Taking a kid camping? Intimidating, yes—but if you equip yourself with a bit of know-how, mitigate risk, and practice overall good judgement, a night in the woods with a tot in tow is not only possible but also actually rollicking good fun.
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For years, my wife, Ella, and I wandered relentlessly. We guided whitewater rafting trips on North Carolina’s Nantahala River, camped up and down the Appalachians, and spent entire summers backpacking Latin America. When our baby boy Gabriel came along, all of that changed. We mostly stayed home “nesting,” as they call it.
Growing soft, moody, and restless, we decided it was time for our first overnight backpacking camping trip as a family. For young kids, after all, a camping trip marks the commencement of an era, the beginning of a glorious childhood spent exploring the outdoors. Here are the lessons we gleaned along the way: