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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Backpacking with kids part 1: assessing your ability

Want to backpack with your kids?  Well the first step is to assess your ability.  Well actually, your kids ability.  Although it’s easy to get caught up in the dreaming stage of where you want to go, don’t get too carried away with this one.  Backpacking with kids will be miserable if you bite off more than you can chew.  Often, when you do a trip like this, it can be easiest to just pack in a couple miles, set up a good camp, and then to day trips from there.  If you’re like us, you’ll be carrying your gear, your kids gear, oh and the kids too.  Don’t kill yourself!  Save longer trips for when the kids are older and can be more independant.  Here’s how to assess where your abilities may lie:

1. Do a few test hikes.  This will not only get you used to hiking as a family, it will improve endurance.  Going on hikes before hand will also help you assess how far your kids can hike and how well you handle them when they start whining like crazy get tired.

2.  Practice with a pack.  Don’t wait for the wilderness to get those packs out.  Wear your pack around the house or on short hikes to get used to the feel of it.  When you’re comfortable wearing it, start filling it up with books to get used to the weight.  If you’re having your kids carry a pack (even just a day pack), do the same thing, just go easy on the books!

3.  Prepare a few distractions. Without a doubt, there will come a point in your trip where your kids (or you) will start whining.  Come up with a list of distractions to help pleasantly pass the time. Practice them on your kids before you leave so you know what will be the most useful and how much time they’ll buy you.  By knowing how long you can distract them, you can avoid meltdowns and stop before things get too hard.

As you do these things, you will begin to get a good idea of what kind of backcountry experience will be best for your family.  Because kids usually can’t hike as far, stretching a long day hike over a few days is often a good option.  Start small gradually work up so that you can really enjoy your experience.  Have fun!

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Adventures, How to, Tips

 

Kite flying – who knew aerial attacks were so entertaining

So I watched the movie The Kite Runner and that may have been where I got the idea from, but who knew that a random day out flying a kite would turn into so much fun with Mason!

We were just letting him try out his new ladybug kite that grandma had given him and it turned into a great game. The joys of being spontaneous and trying new things out.

I love his laughs and his comments.  Despite a cold day, he wouldn’t go in and just wanted to keep egging his uncle on to get the ladybug again.

Having kids is a blast because I get to be a kid again and play as a kid. Learning new words like “dive bomb” take on a new meaning when spoken with excitement by a little kid. As I watch my kids discover the world, it reminds me of how simple pleasures in life are often overlooked when we get too busy.  Thanks Mason, for reminding me to keep playing, be creative and see the wonder in the simple things whenever I get the chance.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Adventures, Misc

 

Backpacking with kids… not for the faint of heart!

We did it when Mason was one.  We did it last summer when Mason was 3 and Chloe still couldn’t walk.  Most people consider the fact that we’ve done it twice, incredibly masochistic.  And yet somehow, we love it so much that the urge to take our kids backpacking is taking over us again.  So instead of scouring roadmaps for our next car camping trip, our minds once again return to the backcountry.  Where we can truly get away.  Here’s a brief overview of last summer’s trip and a glimpse into why we want to do it again!

15 miles, 3 days, 2 kids, 1 unforgettable trip.

It all started out like this.  Andrew carrying “the beast” with practically everything, Jessica carrying Chloe and anything else heavy the kid pack could handle, and Mason carrying his water bottle.  Everyone was smiling…

When we hit this sign at mile 1.5, I made Andrew run back to the car in one of those “I’m positive we left the car unlocked” moments (which we did not).

Since we were not so smart and didn’t start hiking until around 6:30, our kids were tired, grouchy and whiney by the time we reached camp.  Oh yeah, it was dark by this point too!  Mason wanted to be carried, but obviously, that was not going to happen.  At this point, we started to question our sanity.

Luckily, the kids slept great and in the morning we started on the epic trip into the Lone Eagle Cirque.
We passed 4 different waterfalls along the way and found wild raspberries all along the trail. We were amazed at how green everything was.

It was definately not the typical Colorado hike, which has a lot of dry areas. We kept passing through moss covered forests, carpeted with lots of undergrowth and wildflowers.  Backcountry at its finest.

Life is good

The mountains kept getting more and more intense and amazing as we went.  Our hard work was starting to pay off.

Then we got to see Lone Eagle peak. We kept getting more and more pictures as we got closer and were amazed at how cool this mountain and the surrounding areas were. We finally made it to Mirror Lake for lunch and a great break.
We were really glad the daypack had our raingear!

We took our time hiking out the next day to savor the experience.  It really was magical.  Perfect, no, but wonderful nonetheless.  Mason hiked about 12 miles on his own, and was dirty enough to prove it so proud of his accomplishment.  A chance for us to really escape everything and push our limits.  That trip was one of our defining moments as parents.  Recognizing the power and potential that wilderness has for us and for our children.  We vowed to do this again, and often.  We can’t put it off any longer.  Stay tuned while we show you how to prepare for a trip like this!

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Adventures, How to

 

Little Monkeys

Through and through, Mason is our climber.  Be it rocks, walls, or trees, the kid is doing whatever he can to scramble up.  So, when we found this awesome tree, he was in heaven.  It’s perfect for climbing all over, without giving me a heart attack about him being 20 feet up in the air!

Since bravery is not a problem, once he’s in the tree I usually won’t help him.  This limits how high he can go and also makes him think more about what he’s doing since he knows I won’t rescue him.  (Unless he’s climbing the scrawny elm in the backyard and I hear him screaming, 15 feet up in the tree while it sways back and forth…you know an ER visit was flashing through my head, I had to intervene.)  

His favorite thing now is to get Chloe to participate in his adventures.

Lucky for my worrying, she’s kind of whimpy about trees, just as a 22 month old should be.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2011 in Adventures, How to, Ideas

 

Let them play with fire!

As long as we’re there that is.  We figure fire is like a lot of other dangerous things in the world.  Most people are either  1 – scared of it because they don’t understand it, or  2-not careful around it because they don’t know how powerful it is.  I think water’s the same way, but that’s a whole other topic.

When we’re camping or having a fire in the backyard, we take that as a perfect opportunity to teach the kids about fire.

Why fire is good, and how it can be dangerous.
Where we build fires.
How to build a fire.
How to act around a fire.
How to extinguish a fire.

 Hopefully, teaching them about fire and how to safely interact with it will hopefully produce smart and safe kids.

We’re really just crossing our fingers that we’re not just really creating mini pyros!

Want more ideas on how to teach your kids about fire?  Check out www.smokeybear.com

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Ideas, Tips

 

Extreme Parenting

Here at Bring the Kids, we’re all about pushing ourselves as parents…but there are limits.

Some friends shared this video with us a while ago…we couldn’t stop laughing.  Although definitely not anything we think you should ever do with your baby, this is quite entertaining

Thank goodness that those are not real babies!

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Misc

 

Balancing Adventure for Both You and Your Kids

A common line that we hear from our friends who have young kids is “I used to climb, camp, (fill in any fun activity)…and then I had kids.”  Being a parent–especially of young kids–does not mean that you have to give up on doing the fun things that you “used” to enjoy.  This is what bring-the-kids is all about; continuing to have adventures with the kids, even because of your kids.

On our annual 4th of July trip to Jackson Hole, WY we tried to do just that, incorporate our kids into the fun and also insure that mom and dad got to have some serious fun as well.  We love to raft and this year the runoff on the Snake River was high, so we wanted to make sure that we got to play on the big rapids. Here are a few highlights of Lunchcounter.

Our kids aren’t at the age yet where we would take them on the big rapids, so how do you strike the balance between letting mom and dad get their fix for adventure and the kids still have a blast? Here are a few tips that we suggest:


  1. Start by selecting kid friendly, easy to access locations – When rafting, we select a section of river that has a good play area at the put in or take out. For climbing, choose a wall that is close to the cars and has a flat area at the base of the cliff.  We went canoeing and the cars were parked 300 feet from the water’s edge.  Whatever the activity, keeping it easy to access simplifies the whole experience and reduces the planning and gear you will need to take. Save the epic backcountry, remote excursions for when they are a little more experienced or older.
  2. Have activities to involve the kids – As you get your turn, the kids will get excited hearing about what you did or even watching you do it. So if possible, find a way to allow them to try your activity as well. For this trip, it involved a kid friendly float trip on a calmer section of the river.  No one needed to sit this one out and the kids loved bouncing around the boat, eating snacks, getting splashed and spraying the other boats with squirt guns.  We did a canoe trip in Grand Teton National Park and let the kids come along as well and they loved it.  
  3. Invite friends and family – With more people around you get two things, playmates for the kids and extra babysitters.  On this trip, grandma and grandpa didn’t want to do the rapids at high water and were happy to spend time with the grandkids, a win-win for everyone.
  4. Take turns – We rotate through who will stay with the kids and who will be either back at camp with the kids or cheering as we watch mom or dad go through the rapids, climbing the wall, or out on the slopes.  It does take some coordination and effort to get people to come, but wouldn’t you rather be able to get out and play, even if it’s just for a short time?
  5. Keep at it – As you keep bringing the kids, they get used to being out and get comfortable with what they see you doing.  Then when they are old enough to start joining you for more advanced activities, they have a good idea of what to expect and look forward to joining you.
 
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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Adventures, How to, Misc, Tips

 
 
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