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Outdoorsman Peter Brown Hoffmeister offers his advice for answering the call of the wild with kids in tow.


Start a Conversation 

“Being free from the distractions of home makes for an ideal setting to talk to your family,” says Hoffmeister. “Share personal stories of failure or success, or add sentences to a made-up story. You can also try the ‘Fortunately/Unfortunately’ approach: Someone says ‘Fortunately’ and gives a positive declarative sentence; the next person says ‘Unfortunately’ and gives a negative one.”


Weather the Storm 

“The mantra to remember here is, ‘There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.’ Instead of fearing the forecast or using it as an excuse to cancel your trip, find activities that are better in so-called inclement weather. If it’s raining, play mud football. If it’s foggy, get out the map and compass and create a navigation challenge.”


Let the Kids Lead 

“A sense of responsibility is empowering for children. Ask them to choose the campsite; they will relish finding the flattest spot and clearing it of rocks. Or go on a hike and put them in charge of choosing the lunch spot with the best view. Kids are generally more creative than adults. If you let them make some decisions on their own, chances are you’ll have more fun yourself.” 


Make Only Loose Plans

“It’s OK to hike slowly. It’s OK to stop and stare at the clouds. It’s OK to sit and rest in the grass. Slowing down will help you relax, which will in turn help your kids chill out. So accept what comes your way rather than trying to stick to a packed itinerary. You’ll get more enjoyment out of the experience if you don’t have a specific outcome in mind.”


Peter Brown Hoffmeister is the author of Let Them Be Eaten By Bears: A Fearless Guide to Taking Our Kids into the Great Outdoors


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