Camping with little kids

My son, Jack, turned five last month and is itching to go backpacking with his daddy for a full weekend - I'm secretly very excited about that happening too and know it's going to be a blast when he's finally ready. He seems to have genuinely inherited my love of the great outdoors and is more than happy to play around in the woods or scramble on rocks with my careful guidance of course. He's also no novice when it comes to backpacking equipment and its correct use - start 'em young I say.

The challenge right now is that he's still only five and if he's deep into the woods with me backpacking and gets the desire/urge to go home - he can't, especially if it's already dark. So I've been trying to take small steps to get him comfortable with sleeping outside in a tent and doing little day hikes.

He's just a bit too little to do and really lengthy hikes, but that okay for now and hasn't stopped us from doing some pretty interesting day hikes. I took the opportunity to sleep outside with Jack in one of my tents while we were on vacation in Michigan recently. Of course he loved it and wanted to sleep out there every night, but the rain put pay to that - thankfully :) My hope is that by gradually introducing him to the fun of being outside he'll soon be ready to spend his first overnight somewhere other than the back yard.

What steps have you taken to get your little ones ready for their first overnight backpacking adventure? Do you have any tips or advice that you can offer? If so, please leave your comments below - I'd love to hear from you.

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