Your relationship with your children is like an orchid, the more you cultivate it the more it will flourish. Like a marriage, it will change as time passes. Your children are constantly evolving as their experiences change but the one thing you can do to keep their faith in you and the family is to spend quality time with them. For some of us, that’s hard to do. As demanding jobs and responsibilities take their toll, your family is often left behind.
While that may not change at the moment, there are things you can do to improve your time with them. Quality does not mean quantity, there are many parents who because of divorce or for other reasons see their children periodically. But how you spend that time and what you do during those moments can change your child’s perception of who you are and what you believe in. Camping is an excellent way to bond with your child, particularly during the early years. In my own experience, my son’s first camping trip was described as a rite of passage. A time-honored event passed down from generation to generation.
My son and I spoke often about my first camping trip and about how my father used those trips to create a lasting bond that lives on until today. That bond and how to strengthen it are the crux of my relationship with my son. Not because I could not develop my own repertoire of lessons to pass on to my children, but because simply put what my father did worked and created an atmosphere of love and trust. At eight years old, I took my son camping. We had the right tent, food, and weather but I could not get the campsite that my father introduced me to. But not to worry, we had a great time. My son was enamored with the fire, he stood up all night watching it, feeding it and it was a special moment for both of us. It brought us closer together and he was now part of a tradition. Today, we have camped, hiked, climbed, and paddled our way to a great relationship and we learned many things along the way. Not only about the outdoors but also about each other.
Camping can do that for you too, the mesquite smells and the nights in front of the campfire give you those moments that if done right are unforgettable. Include experiences like hiking, climbing, and kayaking and you will have the picture-perfect moments to connect with your child. Don’t waste time by talking nonsense, have a well-thought-out conversation that will take advantage of the openness that being outdoors will provide. Make great meals together, be happy and teach your child to savor those moments.
Of course, none of this is easy, because striving to be more than just a good parent takes extra effort, and going the extra mile. But it’s not hard and only requires a little research to determine a great campsite, preferably by the water with a view. Excellent weather, because nothing will dampen the moment more than rain. Great equipment, food, and beverages help to develop the mood as well. Pay attention to detail and create the moments that you want your child to remember. If you can find campsites that also rent kayaks, that would be great. After two days of camping, take your child on a climb or rappelling session. This not only builds your child’s confidence but will help your relationship flourish as your children will crave more of this adventure. Zip lines, white water rafting, and hot air balloons all offer exciting experiences that are well beyond boring beach trips. Remember creating shared experiences with your children will have the added bonus of bringing you closer.
While you are there, give your child responsibilities. Let them experience and learn how to thrive in these conditions. If you have experience in the outdoors great, if not you can learn together. Keep things light if you screw up, laugh don’t get frustrated. Teach them to get up every time they fall, by getting up yourself. There are lessons to be learned out here. I have sought to teach my children the lessons in things that many consider uneventful. Collecting water, putting up the tents, cooking the food, setting up the fire, and caring for the equipment all present opportunities to teach lessons in family, teamwork, and work ethic. Values that have been lost in today’s day and age. But camping can be your connection to times and values lost long ago and virtues that endure the test of time. Camping may be just camping to you but to me, camping represents an opportunity for me to connect with my children on a level that is beyond ordinary. Because nothing is more unforgettable than those experiences that have been forged in adventure. Now get out there with your kid. Happy Trails.