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10/31/2019 3:52 pm  #1

Growing up camping

Hi folks,
Trembling excitement today, I'm within a few hours of welcoming my first child into the world.  As all the emotions that come with impending fatherhood go through my brain, I have to do something to keep from going bananas between contractions.

So I think about the future, what I look forwards and hope to impart on this new life.  I think that the love of the outdoors and the joy of adventure I get canoeing are the biggest part of myself that I hope to pass on.  I know you can't force it into people, but you can encourage it.

So as enthusiasts and with a few other parents in this community, my question is if you could spare any advice from a parenting point of view to get a kid interested in outdoor adventure?  I plan on following the template my parents laid out with myself.  Summer camps and cottaging when we can, as well as focusing on getting the youngling out there as much as possible.  Hoping to get car camping next summer with a big-ass tent and taking him on as many little trips to a forest as possible until he can toddle his own way down a portage.  Depending on how he is, I'd love to get him out on an overnight trip to somewhere like Canisbay with the first few years.

Like I said, I'm just trying to find a little source of sanity right now and this is where I come for that.  Camping in Algonquin is one of the things in this world that I think I know.  Let me know what you think about this new aspect I'm wading into!




10/31/2019 7:23 pm  #2

Re: Growing up camping

Hey Ian,

That’s great news. Congratulations and good luck with the next few days. I remember waiting for my first. I was so amped up, could barely focus. Best wishes to you and your wife in the coming hours, I’ll be thinking of you.

Now to your question. I think the best way to get kids interested in camping is to make sure they’re exposed to it. But, just as important, show them how much you love it While you’re out with them. If they see that, they’re going to want to love it too. That’s one of the best things about little kids: for a little while you get to be the coolest thing in their universe. They model themselves on you, so just make sure they see how great camping is and how important it is to you.

Good luck and have fun these next few days. (Take lots of pictures because your memories are going to be a blur 😀)



11/01/2019 5:36 am  #3

Re: Growing up camping

My experience is that as a child, time is protracted. I find it hard to reconcile that those experiences took place over a relatively short period of time when my recollection is that they made up most of my childhood. My point is to make it fun and to have things to do for them while making sure they are comfortable. And by comfortable I don't mean bundling them up to the point that they can't move.


11/01/2019 8:09 am  #4

Re: Growing up camping

Congrats man!
I had my first in June and have been taking him on hikes and day trips since he was 8 weeks.  He's probably seen more of the beautiful Ontario north than most people I know in his short time. 
I was exposed to the outdoors super young and my dad always made sure it was fun, even in bad weather etc.  I think Drew nailed it, show them why you love it and why it's so fun/important to get out and they'll follow your lead pretty quick. 


11/01/2019 8:11 am  #5

Re: Growing up camping

My advice - just do it. A toddler who is camping with Mom and Dad figures that is normal. If you're excited and having fun they will. 


11/01/2019 11:03 am  #6

Re: Growing up camping

Congratulations on the new arrival Ian! 

Sounds like everyone has the same message which I'll echo, just keep getting out there.  Initially when we started having kids we continued our usual trips canoe camping but we did start car camping more.  We live near Bobcaygeon so sometimes being in campgrounds like Rock Lake it feels like you've headed toward the city not away from it.  But I've also had to keep in mind that just because I really love a lake in the middle of nowhere doesn't mean my kids always will.  Going through their early years the kids loved bicycling in the parks and going to Park activities like salamander or cricket hunts, hiking interpretive trails, and interacting with other kids - and they still do.  That being said, when my oldest turned 11 she was already asking about solo tripping : )  We have found that a balance of front country and back country worked best for us and gives the kids a whole ranges of perspectives.  Enjoy the new journey, you've got lots of work ahead of you but it is all very much worth it


11/01/2019 11:17 am  #7

Re: Growing up camping

Congratulations on the impending event - it is life-changing and only truly understood once you go through it!

I think you are on the right track - exposure to the environment and finding the joy in all things will lead to fulfillment for each in their own way.  You may find that it is not his cup of tea or you may find he revels in the outdoors - but providing the environment for him to figure that out is the best you can do. 

Make it as easy as possible at first but not so much so that he is insulated from the extremes of the joys and challenges.  Some of the best trips from my childhood were some of the worst conditions and situations but teaching that you make the best of any situation will yield the best results as well as empower him to feel competent and capable of managing challenges in the woods and in the world.

Make it fun and creative - plan trips that focus on what he really enjoys and finds stimulating (you'll discover that as he ages and develops) so that the time passes quickly and in a highly engaged manner.


11/01/2019 12:32 pm  #8

Re: Growing up camping

My only advice, in addition to what everyone above has mentioned, is to also not get discouraged if the interest in the outdoors waxes and wanes with your child. With my daughter, there was very little interest when she was very young, then a period where she really enjoyed it. She then would not enter the woods due to WOLVES AND BEARS etc but I did not push the issue too hard. She then started to really enjoy it again, and we are back enjoying time together in the outdoors. Children are funny little creatures, and are typically stubborn little things.
Good luck!


11/01/2019 4:14 pm  #9

Re: Growing up camping

Congratulations Ian! From now on every step will have its consequences - tread lightly on land and water
No advice here, but in my experience most important is early start, I mean really early. I got a child carrier when my son was 6 months old and we walked a trail for hours 3-4 times a week - and we still do, though the carrier is replaced by a balance bike. He was on his first canoe trip before he could walk. Now he's 4 and being in the woods or in a canoe is more comfortable for him than playing at home.

"Experience breeds competence only if you do things right." - Cliff Jacobson

11/01/2019 6:08 pm  #10

Re: Growing up camping

Congrats! Baby steps! Day trips.Backyard camping.  Local Provincial park. Car camp. Paddle in. Single portage and so on. Startem young. Although make sure your partner is comfortable with it too. No sense rushing any of you into it. Ours are 12 15 and 18 now. They all have different comfort levels when it come to camping. The middle is most adventurous and Im looking forward to our annual winter cold tent trip in Feb. He's a trooper.

Last edited by Shayne74 (11/01/2019 6:12 pm)


11/02/2019 8:13 pm  #11

Re: Growing up camping

We love the Algonquin backcountry but only get out as a family once per year, for the last two years. Both trips were a success, as we expected, because in general we try to take our daughter on all sorts of adventures so that she is comfortable being a little traveler. I think it will be helpful if your kid is used to sleeping in strange beds before you take them into the backcountry. Then the tent become just another strange place to sleep, another adventure.

Also, why wait years to bring them into the backcountry? I’ve seen a tiny months old infant in a canoe coming off North Tea Lake and they all looked happy. At 11 months I strapped my daughter to my chest and bushwhacked to a site because we couldn’t find a life jacket rated for less than 20 pounds. The following year she was excited to be in the bow of the canoe or riding on mommy’s shoulders as we single portaged. Having a kid means you’ll pack a little heavier but they don’t have to slow you down too much. Enjoy the adventure!


11/03/2019 8:12 am  #12

Re: Growing up camping

Ian - Congratulations!  Here's hoping that everything went spectacularly well.  It was a long time, probably too long before I got my kids backcountry camping.  My son is not very into it (I'm hoping that changes this coming summer when he takes a trip with his scout troop), my daughter enjoys it.  My wife enjoys it too, but the route has to be physically non-demanding; for some reason she doesn't enjoy half-killing herself on portages like I seem to. 

We had the kids in the canoe paddling around pretty early, and that was ok for short outings.  We got nailed by a surprise thunderstorm one time and I think that's what left the impression with my son.

Anyway, what I have found is that unless you are fishing (and have selected a place where fishing is a slam dunk for success), it is best to have two kids with you.  They entertain each other a lot more than you'd think, and given their abilities to be so creative with so little, two kids can make an outing pretty entertaining.  And by the way they love tent camping in the back yard on a Saturday night.  Or in the living room. 

To me, little ones - by which I mean kids aged 0 to maybe 8 or so - are the greatest thing God ever put on this planet.  They can be pretty hilarious and a whole lot of fun to be around given the chance.  When I was a Cub Scout Master, I developed a saying that holds true every time: "Given the opportunity, a child will never disappoint you."

Look if I don't suggest a second child one of the grandparents will, so.....there's no hurry but grandma will probably drive you crazy as she awaits number two.

I'll leave you with the parenting advice my mom gave me.  This was not took long before Alzheimers started taking her away.  I was half-joking, half-worried about what the future would bring and my ability to cope with it over the years.  She said "Just love them". 


11/04/2019 12:09 pm  #13

Re: Growing up camping

I agree with the 'just do it' plan. 

We waited a couple years with the first, but the second had to come as soon as we could through the blackflies and rain to Big Bob lake. She was 6 months. 

If there's anything that makes it better, it's to have other kids or people there. Go with another family. Or take someone else's kids as well - maybe leave that till theyre older than 6 though. 

Kid carrier backpacks are helpful for the regular hikes and being outdoors stuff. We had one with a hood for snow and rain.Make sure the seat is adjustable so they can fall asleep nicely. 


11/15/2019 3:00 pm  #14

Re: Growing up camping

Thanks for all the great advice!  We picked up a baby carrier the other day and now I'm looking at the day trip options close to developed sites for next summer.

Rowan Samuel Tendy was born last Tuesday morning and everyone is healthy and happy.  Thanks again for the great ideas, looks like next year is gonna be interesting!

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11/15/2019 5:26 pm  #15

Re: Growing up camping

Congratulations on becoming a father Ian! Beautiful baby boy you have.


11/15/2019 6:02 pm  #16

Re: Growing up camping

Congrats Ian!


11/15/2019 6:02 pm  #17

Re: Growing up camping

Rowan Samuel Tendy is an awesome name.  What a handsome little guy, just a little tired right now.  He's taken quite a little journey recently and needs to catch up on his sleep.  Congratulations to you an mom!!!


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