Camping with kids can be tough right? For those of you who have never camped with kids it doesn’t have to be a complex operation. Simplicity is key. Most people would think planning and conducting special operations is overly complex, when in reality simplicity is the first principle in special operations planning.
I’m pretty lucky to be able to go camping and call it work. I justify to myself that shutting the doors on the business for day or two during school holidays and getting away is a part of work. I get to try new products and put our new tipis to the test, but the ultimate test is getting the kids out of their comfort zone, off their devices and into the great outdoors.
Lessons learned when camping with kids
Make camping with kids a mission. You don’t have to Free Solo El Capitan - it can be simple, get them to cook some noodles! Give yourself and your kids one goal to achieve out of the whole trip and see the kids (and yourself) work towards it - a simple household ’chore’ when performed in the outdoors is the gateway to freedom and life lesson learned that will never be forgot, and the chances are it will be a bonding moment between you and your kids.
Lighting a fire within
With two high energy boys that are over reliant on tech I feel it is our duty to disconnect them, get them dirty and get them outdoors. I am not risk adverse and are a huge believer in letting them find out the hard way and camping is a great place to teach them team work, resilience and dare I say it in this day and age - man(kind) skills. Fire, edged tools and weaponry is what separated us from the animals when we were cave man and the inner (cave)man in us all still loves to play with all of the above.
When many choose to flick on the TV and let Mark and Samantha from Survivor show us in the comfort of our own home, or watch Alone and commentate on what they could of or should of done - for me, growing up camping, fishing, shooting things, hunting and generally getting myself in trouble set me up for several long careers and I try to emulate my own experience with my boys who are six and nine.
Camping is the ultimate digital detox for kids
What we do at home with the tear of a packet and the push of button we do mindlessly but when you get into the outdoors and do it, well, it bonds you. The simple act of cutting wood and food, lighting a fire and gathering around it can have more power than any App or TV show.
With my boys who normally squabble over the the TV remote, Nintendo or the one block of lego - when I give them a ferro rod and tell them to light a fire they work as a team, they gather tinder, ferociously swing an axe to chop wood and what ever they can to light that fire, it ignites something primal in them and they refuse to fail. The inner pyromaniac and urge to survive kicks in. They become a unit and work together. Rather than hover over them, I choose to teach them enough skills to be a little dangerous and let them go. I feel it forms a mutual trust. I let them know I feel they are big enough to do adult things and they feel that they want to succeed to show their father that they are capable of bigger things.
The reward that never ends
There are no ‘treats’ or rewards needed to get them to participate. They get the self-satisfaction of seeing flames come out of a pile of dry grass, or taste the amazing noodle dish they cooked themselves. The smiles we all share when we all feel accomplished at the end of a long day of working together towards a common goal is the true reward. Mission accomplished.
Written by Dave Parker, edited by Allison Tomazin Parker.