Sage Advice for Camping with Children

Camping with kids presents special problems, so we asked a family-camping expert for some answers.

Should I buy my child a special ergonomic telescoping titanium trekking pole? 
Only if you hate nature. There is no way that pole is not going to be used to whack the crap out of trailside vegetation (and probably your ankles and your child's little brother). Balance is a learned skill—let them learn it! Save the $99.50 for a better air mattress. Yours is not good enough. Trust me. 

What’s the proper response to trailside tantrums? 
Chocolate. (For you, not the child.) Savor it slowly and ask yourself: Is my child overly tired? Too many Pop-Tarts for breakfast? Backcountry meltdowns mean something. Usually, they mean: I want to go swimming. Give your kid a break and you’ll live to hike another day. 


Should I let my children feed the squirrels? 
Only if you don’t like them (the children). Squirrels bite—even the cute ones—and they also carry rabies, West Nile virus and, believe it or not, the bubonic plague. 

When hiking or backpacking, how many Nalgene bottles full of Chardonnay can I reasonably expect my child to carry?
One 16-ounce bottle per year over the age of 5. Additional bottles may be added if said child is the reason for the drinking. 

Originally published in July 2010

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