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Author Topic: Backcountry with kiddos  (Read 2816 times)

Offline Jpmiller

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Backcountry with kiddos
« on: December 14, 2017, 06:55:31 AM »
I'm going to try and put together a backpacking trip with my toddler next summer. He loves camping and loves hiking. Not anything extreme and may just end up walking down a decommissioned logging road but I want to get him out there and excited.

Anyone have any experience with young kids? Anything to think about other than normal kid stuff? He will still be three. Really looking forward to it, thanks for any help!

Offline jamesfromseattle

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2017, 07:00:29 AM »
I have no experience doing this but we have a kid on the way and have already been thinking about it. Would love to hear the tips that others have.

Offline boneaddict

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2017, 07:10:56 AM »
-Remember not to overdo it.  Their world is a lot bigger than ours.
- They donít regulate their tank very well. Full throttle then nothing left in the tank. 
-Bugs....from skeeters to yellow jackets.   As a family we got into a hornets nest. I held back and took most of the hits, then finally ran up and scooped em and ran with them.   I was very happy to have a couple Benadryl in my pack.  You never know what they are allergic too.   
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Offline Karl Blanchard

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2017, 07:21:49 AM »
Bone hit on very good points. I will add that it HAS to be a positive experience.  There will be time later in life to learn some mental toughness and face adversity head on but at 3 it isn't time yet.  Keep outings short and fun.  Next thing you know the hooks will be set deep and he'll do anything to chase dad around the mountains!
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Offline cbond3318

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2017, 07:35:34 AM »
These two already covered great points. I will add, put yourself in the mind of a toddler while hiking, stop and point out everything. The bugs, the weird moss, the squirrels fighting. Tell a tall tale of how old mans beard came to be. Check out all the tracks and scat. Point out noises, weird trees with a hollowed our stump. Keep their imagination sparked and youíll have the time of your life.  Itís not about how far you get but what you do along the way. Bring snacks, stay ahead of their hunger and throw him/her on your shoulders to cover ground


Good luck! :tup:
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Offline Karl Blanchard

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2017, 07:39:43 AM »
These two already covered great points. I will add, put yourself in the mind of a toddler while hiking, stop and point out everything. The bugs, the weird moss, the squirrels fighting. Tell a tall tale of how old mans beard came to be. Check out all the tracks and scat. Point out noises, weird trees with a hollowed our stump. Keep their imagination sparked and youíll have the time of your life.  Itís not about how far you get but what you do along the way. Bring snacks, stay ahead of their hunger and throw him/her on your shoulders to cover ground


Good luck! :tup:
  absolutely nailed it :tup:  can't believe I forgot to mention snacks!!!!  So many snacks :chuckle:
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Offline poopooheaddad

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2017, 07:53:01 AM »
definitely snacks, hot chocolate, and kids love flashlights and those snap stick glow sticks miss those times...
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Offline swanny

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2017, 08:15:33 AM »
I have no experience doing this but we have a kid on the way and have already been thinking about it. Would love to hear the tips that others have.

No experience with toddlers (yet), but my wife and I made it our goal to hike 100 miles before our son turned 1 in September. We started when he was about 3 months old doing day hikes, did a couple of overnight backpacking trips also. We figure we still have a couple more backpacking trips through the Spring/Summer before neither of us will be interested in carrying him in the pack any longer. Get a good kid carry pack, get out there and have fun! Keep the trips reasonable, make sure you pack all the necessary snacks, clothing, water/milk, etc. Our typical packing was one of us carries the kid and in his pack was all his needs, while the other carried both of our gear whether day hiking or backpacking. Refining your gear list with lighter weight options will help greatly! Fitz has loved hiking and seen all conditions, in fact his first hike was in 6" of snow! The coolest part is seeing them roam around the woods and how they play/interact with the natural environment.

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Offline jackelope

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2017, 08:37:29 AM »
Did a pretty fair amount of hiking with our daughter from age 1 to current(10). Now not so much but earlier on, a highlight of the trip for her was a treat at the lake or whatever the destination was. The big hits were the mountain house desserts. Also bring something to do once you get to where you're going. Fishing, bug catching, a tree or wildflower ID book(even if you know what all the trees are). We kept it to under 2 miles one way until she was maybe 6-7 years old. We're planning a Goat Rocks overnighter next summer. I'm thinking maybe 10-12 miles total with 1 night spent out.
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Offline jamesfromseattle

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2017, 10:21:43 AM »
The discussion of snacks reminded me of something my family used to to when I was little:

Occasionally one the grown ups would run off in the woods to scout for "M&M rocks", "gummy bear bushes", etc.  If we were lucky they would call us over and we could discover a rock with M&Ms or other candy growing out of it.  This sticks out to me as one of my favorite parts of early hiking trips and is one of my earliest childhood memories.  That being said, it left me with a pretty warped understanding of geology and botany.

Offline cbond3318

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2017, 11:00:44 AM »
Another cool thing I do with my boys is pack a couple of my small sheds and let them ďfind ď them along the way.
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Offline pianoman9701

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2017, 11:06:06 AM »
You have to decide first if the trip is for you or the kid. If it's truly for the kid, backcountry camping won't cause fun memories. Find a camping spot close to water so he can swim and/or fish. Make sure you can have a fire and shame on you if you don't have hotdogs and s'mores ready. Hot chocolate and pancakes or waffles for breakfast. Bring his favorite toy or game. If he gets bored, he won't have fun. Taking kids camping and having a good time takes planning.
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Offline Ridgerunner

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2017, 12:13:05 PM »
Lots of great advice here, snacks, easy destinations with something interesting to explore.

The first time I took the kids backcounty camping, I had two 9 year olds, two 5 year olds and a 11 month old. I made sure the trail in was short, about 2 miles with minimal elevation gain.  Kids all had a great time, we made sure there was a lake destination for them to explore, also made sure that the woods were open enough that they had space to run around off trail when we got to our destination.  One thing they all enjoyed as making little floating "boats" out of leaves and flowers and sending them down the creek.  The older 4 carried packs that they had snacks, lightweight clothes etc but were pretty light overall.  Everyone had a awesome trip the first day, that night one of the 5 year olds started throwing up, I ended up carrying him back out to the trailhead.  Thankfully I had been training for a sheep hunt so I ended up carrying him all the way back to the vehicle but you never know what is going to come up in the backcountry.  A few years later I've done a few more trips, the oldest kids aren't all that into the woods and backpacking although they do enjoy camping.  The younger ones love it. 

Biggest thing is the trip has to be about them, trying to combine with a scouting trip is probably asking for disappointment on your end. 

Offline blackveltbowhunter

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2017, 02:13:57 PM »
Alot of great advice. I started all of my girls in a backpack. And just went until they started to complain and then push past that a bit. Same thing once they started walking. They're tolerance increases quickly and they have been doin couple mile hikes for sometime now. This last summer they both did several mile hikes, and 20+ mile bike rides at 9 and 10.

Snacks, and breaks are huge. Bone hit the nail on the head they will run then crash. Its like they have no intermediate pace. Lol. But they learn it. Make sure trails are decent, obstacles that seem like nothing, are serious to them. Creek crossings etc....  I also have avoided  trails that have any "sketchy" sections.  But they will love having small streams and rocks, it builds their confidence. I have found the best motivator to be another friend, either another kid or 4 legged variety will keep them occupied and entertained instead of just trudging. Whenever possible have a destination, a waterfall, lake, etc. Some kind of goal. Mostly be mindful of your attitude, I really struggled in the beginning wanting them to experience all of the sights and areas i enjoyed, not being mindful those were simply out of reach of their capabilities even some seemingly simple hikes. Once i realized that they were making their own memories and to them a half mile away from the road is "backcountry " it got alot easier to relax and go with the flow. Push when needed but adjust my expectations to reality.

Offline Fl0und3rz

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2017, 02:36:03 PM »
I took my three year old out one year.  We did lots of stomping on caterpillars, saw some sign, had a nice hike and a good lunch out.

- Lot's of snacks.

- Keep the walk flat as possible.

- Be prepared to take lots of stops and detours.

- Be prepared to carry him/her.  This is difficult with a rifle, pack, etc.  I might have just taken a pistol, if I had a hunting capable one at the time.

- Stop, look, and listen to everything.  Leaves, rocks, caterpillars, sign, poop, etc.  It's all cool when you are three.

- Take trinkets like compass, walkie talkies, etc. to goof around with.

- Don't get to bent if he/she is not quiet or not interested.  It won't be fun for either of you.  Enjoy every minute.

- Water features are cool, too, because who doesn't like throwing rocks in water.


I can't wait to go again on longer outings now that he is a little older and more into it.

Offline Jpmiller

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2017, 10:28:56 PM »
Thanks for all your input! I'm definitely not planning on this trip being anything other than a get him out in the woods trip. I think I'm settled (for now) on an area I am very familiar with and a one mile flat hike down an old decomisioned logging road that ends in a meadow with a little creek and a shale cliff I can almost always find goats on.

Definitely going to up my food for the trip but it's just a one nighter so weight should be fine. He has a little backpack and I think I'll let him load a handful of his own stuff so he can feel like he is doing some packing too.

I'm getting really amped up for this trip now.

Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2017, 05:21:55 AM »
Be careful goats have been know to horn people.

Offline grade-creek-rd

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2017, 08:07:02 AM »
There's a lot of good advice on here already...all I will add is be careful with your wishes. I took my oldest son everywhere with me when he was little, fishing, hiking, hunting, etc. and he loved it, until I pushed him too far, too much. My youngest son I pretty much ignored for the first few years where he was old enough to go, sure I took him "once in a while" with his brother (they are 2 years apart) but I made him wait an extra year for hunters ed, an overnight camping trip, and such...my oldest is now 14, only bird hunted one day (he had both multi-season tags and a doe permit...wasted) but my youngest who is 12 has pushed me to my limits in the backcountry this past summer, killed his 4ht deer (first one with a muzzleloader), a turkey (I've never killed one), and a bunch of birds, plus fished buoy 10 and floated the Satsop in the pouring down rain in Nov...and all he talks and thinks about is hunting/fishing/hiking/survival...because I had patience for him it made him desire it even more!

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Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2017, 08:13:34 AM »
Well at 14 you know there is 2 legged things out there that are fun to chase. :chuckle:

Offline grade-creek-rd

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2017, 12:47:24 PM »
I hear ya Sky!!!...he says he's not into girls yet...but looking at his text on his phone, hmm...I see why he grabs it every time the text chime dings! He still likes to shoot guns so I hope someday he'll return to deer camp, until then, I'm reminded every day how much closer he is to getting his drivers permit...

Grade

PS. I need to pick your brain on AK...looking for an early season bou hunt where I can drive up and back with the youngest kid in late August...or just a fishing trip maybe. I know there's one up along the slope (archery only within 1 mile of the road/pipeline).
There's more to life than hunting...there's fishing too!

Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2017, 12:52:06 PM »
Yea 5 miles within the Haul rd corridor in most places. It's all about the experience up there!!

Offline DOUBLELUNG

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2017, 01:15:01 PM »
When I took my toddler son fishing, he and I would stop at the convenience store, and he could pick out what he wanted to eat and drink.  That was the only time he got to pick things out at a shop at that age, it made a big impression and positive association.  I learned that one from my uncle, when he would take me fishing and I got to eat junk food I was never allowed by my health food Nazi mom.  I can still taste those Yoohoo and Bama mini pecan pies!

Interludes are not big on the toddler fun meter.  The best fishing is for overstocked ponds full of stunted fish that never let a bobber sit still; if they have to wait between bites they need something else fun to do.  Mine loved throwing rocks in water - resist your instincts, you are fishing and having fun.  Like many little ones in potty training, he was fascinated by poop.  Pointing out goose poop and other scat was a neverending source of amusement.

They are knowledge sponges, and it is all new to them.  Don't be afraid to point out flowers, bugs, berries, trees, birds, rocks, etc.  A campfire is an endless source of fascination, day or night.  Your backcountry hike doesn't have to be any further than out of sight of the vehicle.  Keep it fast and fun, and if they get tired or grumpy, stop for a nap.  As long as you keep them warm, dry, fed, hydrated, rested and otherwise comfortable, you're golden.  Not the time for introducing character building.

When I was two, my parents and I camped for most of a year, March through October.  It wasn't until I was in my twenties I realized we'd been homeless!  My dad would leave each day to do odd jobs and look for work, and my mom kept me occupied - in the tent with books from the library and art supplies when it was wet or cold, otherwise outside at our many camping spots by a creek or in the woods.  I have nothing but positive memories from that year of camping, and I give my parents credit for keeping a reasonably desperate situation fun and positive.   My mom was a city girl, and I think she learned most everything she now knows about nature from the constant stream of library books she checked out to keep me engaged and learning.
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Offline Calvin Rayborn

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2017, 12:00:07 AM »
Deuter Kid Comfort

Offline E35alex

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2018, 05:49:10 AM »
Great advice from everyone. Here's my  :twocents:

First time taking my son out, we went on a 5 mile one way hike (10 mile round trip). Elevation 800ft. He was 5. Ran out of energy on .5 mile, after a snack, had enough energy for another .5 mile. Lets just say that most of the snacks were gone by the time we made it to our destination. Long story short, he gets bored if we go on a "flat" or "short" hike.  :dunno:
Planning on doing a 3 say backpack scouting trip in the spring. should be fun.

He wants to do the Pure Elevation course with my this year, he is 9 now. Still can't get him to sit quietly for more then 1 min.  :chuckle:

I guess its all up to how your child acts. no one knows but you. Some like the challenge, others don't.

The closer I get to nature, the farther I am from idiots.

Offline Fl0und3rz

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2018, 10:01:00 AM »
I am looking forward to spring and some dryer weather to get out again this year.

Offline AJ Howard

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2018, 03:59:08 PM »
It has been awesome seeing all of the different pieces of advice to offer! I have an 18 month old right now. We did two overnight backpack trips but one thing we are struggling with is their sleeping situation. My wife nor I have a big wnough bag to accommodate one of us and the baby (toddler now). So I am wondering what others have done. Because if it is backpacking, weight doesn't sound enjoyable. But is it just one of those things to do? But is it safe for them to have their own sleeping bag? Just curious what everyone else has done..

Offline Moe the Sleaze

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2018, 04:17:15 PM »
I had a pair of fleece pants.  Those smaller kids fit right in one of the legs.  Tie a knot where you need it.

Offline Moe the Sleaze

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2018, 04:27:42 PM »
Second Beach out at La Push is a great place to camp with kids.  The "backpack" down to the beach can be a challenge because there are some stairs, but it's less than a mile.  Build sand castles, fly a kite, watch for Bald Eagles, explore the tidepools, have a nice beach fire.  My kids loved it every time we went.  Supplies are not that far away if you run out of something.

Offline thom9719

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #28 on: February 05, 2018, 01:45:00 PM »
It has been awesome seeing all of the different pieces of advice to offer! I have an 18 month old right now. We did two overnight backpack trips but one thing we are struggling with is their sleeping situation. My wife nor I have a big wnough bag to accommodate one of us and the baby (toddler now). So I am wondering what others have done. Because if it is backpacking, weight doesn't sound enjoyable. But is it just one of those things to do? But is it safe for them to have their own sleeping bag? Just curious what everyone else has done..

My wife found a pair of heavy duty sleeping footy pajamas that don't require a sleeping bag. My son was 18 mo at the time and slept between us (with each of us in our own sleeping bag). He was plenty warm at night and so tired from the day's adventures that he passed out immediately!

We now have 2 kids 1 and almost 3, and are looking to try backpacking with both of them. Fingers crossed we can make it work. They both seem to love the outdoors!


Offline CAMPMEAT

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2018, 01:58:12 PM »
Something to suck on so their mouths won't dry out while hiking. I learned that from hiking into the Goat Rocks years ago.
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Offline swanny

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #30 on: February 06, 2018, 09:25:21 AM »
It has been awesome seeing all of the different pieces of advice to offer! I have an 18 month old right now. We did two overnight backpack trips but one thing we are struggling with is their sleeping situation. My wife nor I have a big wnough bag to accommodate one of us and the baby (toddler now). So I am wondering what others have done. Because if it is backpacking, weight doesn't sound enjoyable. But is it just one of those things to do? But is it safe for them to have their own sleeping bag? Just curious what everyone else has done..
My wife and I had the kid sleep in between us on our trips last summer. Except one warmer trip where he slept on his own at our heads on a foam mat with has blanket. We also had good luck with those synthetic puffy and/or fleece suits that Columbia makes for kids.  We use an EXPED SynMat HL Duo mat with a 2-person quilt in our tent to fit all 3 of us on.

Offline Calvin Rayborn

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2018, 01:33:30 AM »
Deuter Kid Comfort

Offline Shawn Ryan

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #32 on: March 16, 2018, 11:41:50 AM »
JPMiller, in contrast to most everything else written here:  My main hunting buddies and I took our kids (four boys, three girls) on a lot of trips, hunting, hiking, shed hunting, scouting, cold creek swimming, frog finding, etc.  and pushed them much harder than most, apparently.  Lots of miles, carry some of their own stuff--more as age allowed, all day, make their own fires, carry the elk bones they want to take home, push their own bike when they were too tired to pedal, etc.  Sure, we had lots of snacks, kept them hydrated, carried them on shoulders or in packs when they were 3 and too short to hike all day. 

Those kids all developed different desires for the outdoors as adults based on their personalities, but all of them still enjoy the outdoors and find renewal in the wilderness.  At least two get more outdoor time as adults than any of us parents ever did.  I've backpacked with them as adults in the Hells Canyon, Bear Tooth, Flat Tops, Cloud Peak, and Pecos Wildernesses on 5-day trips. Headed to the Sawtooths with them soon.  My buddies' kids are adamant that we get together at least once a year in the wilderness.

My parents did the same with me.  Me and my 5 siblings all backpacked as teenagers carrying all of our own gear.  My week-long, backpack hunting trips started at age 14 in the Wenaha Wilderness.  Those times were important in developing my desire for the outdoors.

Kids are resilient and usually in far better physical shape than their mental toughness.  Grit is learned from tough and demanding times.  Demanding doesn't necessarily mean "fun," but "enjoyable," "worthwhile," and "rewarding" may be more valuable than "fun."    I'll probably get bashed here for not being PC and for being old-school, so I'll guess I have to just rely on our unique and particular results.

Good for you for desiring to get your three-year-old out in the woods.  I hope its the beginning of many trips.

Offline Jpmiller

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Re: Backcountry with kiddos
« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2018, 06:10:01 PM »
That's kind of how i parent at home lol. My kids fail alot over and over but they eventually get it and it seems to work. I'm really hoping not to make the outdoors no fun for him, something to think about...

 

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