Go Camping!

by Kevin
(Warren, MI)

Go camping with your teenagers! There is nothing more fulfilling than tackling and enjoying the great outdoors, so why not introduce the world of camping to your kids or to your group of teens?

As a teen, camping opens the doors to do things one might not be able to experience on the average weekend at home. Days spent hiking through the woods, cooking outdoors, and canoeing rivers and lakes leave a lifelong lasting impression. During the night, teens can see the night sky in a way not attainable in the city. They can build a fire for cooking and warmth. And of course, they can appreciate a real S’More. Learning the outdoor skills to make a successful camping trip can be applied to many aspects of life.

The best part about taking a teen camping is the endless versatility to the outdoor outing. At this age, teenagers can do everything from cabin camping to backcountry backpacking, as long as they are properly equipped. Putting teens, or anyone, in the outdoor element can bring out a sense of self awareness and self reliance which is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in a teens day-to-day life. However, they appreciate it more if it is somewhat challenging but not a miserable event.

Camping Tips

There are several things that are necessary to make it a successful camping trip that will make the teen want to do it again and fully appreciate the experience. The first is to make it as comfortable as realistically possible to first time campers. Having some creature comforts, like tablecloths, cots or air mattresses, and showers, can go along way to make someone feel like they are getting the experience without being too “uncivilized”.

Next, is to find things to do. If you are in the backcountry and the day is spent day-hiking or moving from one campsite to the next, this is not much of an issue. However, car camping or cabin camping will require finding engaging and fun activities to do, which is not difficult. Hiking, biking, swimming, horseback riding, shopping in small towns, or going movies on those rainy days are generally not hard to find. Some things like playing cards or a game of ‘catch’ just seem more relaxing while camping. And ‘doing nothing’ can sometimes be considered something to do too. Remember, this is supposed to be a relaxing vacation.

The final piece of advice when you go camping is to limit the electronics brought by the teen. Too much of our lives and a teenager’s life is dependant on electronics and gadgets. Unless it is a GPS for tracking a trail or geocaching (another great activity you can do with a teen), it is really unnecessary and can really distract a teenager from appreciating the camping trip. Leave the cell phones, mp3 players, and handheld gaming systems off and in the car.

At the end of the day, a camping trip is what you make of it. It can be a challenging multi-day backcountry backpacking experience or a weekend in a cabin at a state park with showers and towns with quaint shops near-by. The good news is that you have a teenager with you and at that age they can do most any outdoor activity.

So what are you waiting for? Go camping!

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