The Art of Getting Kids Outdoors

My generation had an extensive range from home base.  We’d disappear for a day.  No helicopter parents, no cell phones.  If we crashed our bikes, we fixed them as best we could and limped home.  I took a nice header five miles from home (I still have the scar on my knee), used a t-shirt as a bandage, made it home, and from there to the emergency room. I got 8 stitches and a great story to tell my friends.

As the owner of a company which produces family camping tents, I am often asked, “When is the best time to start taking kids on outdoor excursions?”

My answer is always the same: on the way home from the hospital. We owe it to our kids to get them outside.  We owe them scratches and scrapes, summits and snakes, sunburns and sunsets.  We owe them an authentic life.

Practical Matters

Kids are not little adults.  Their needs are very different, and if you want to enjoy your time with kids, pay attention.  There are five things I tell people when they ask about taking kids camping:

o   They get cold faster.

o   They get hot faster.

o   They get hungry faster.

o   They get bored faster.

o   They want to be helpful.
They get cold faster.  It’s simple thermodynamics. Little bodies lose heat faster than big ones.  They get cold before you do, so don’t assume because you’re not cold that your little ones aren’t either.  The solution is easy.  Take more clothing than you think necessary.  Because their clothes are smaller, it’s no big deal, and after a certain age (around six for our kids) they started carrying a lot of their own clothes and gear.

The first line of defense is good outerwear.  Make sure it fits: boots, raingear, hats, gloves, etc.  The difference between a good raincoat and a poncho is not worth it, especially when you have a wet and tired and hungry five-year-old.

They get hot faster.  Keeping kids comfortable in the heat is just as important as keeping them warm. Again, you may not notice because you’re not hot. A red flushed complexion is a good sign things are toasty.  Make use of evaporative cooling.  A baseball cap dipped in water can cool them off quickly, and a wet bandana around the neck is helpful too.

It goes without saying that many adults forget to apply (or reapply) sunscreen.  If you forget, chances are it’s not even on your kid’s radar.  Make it a point to reapply every hour, even if it’s just a touch-up.

They get hungry faster.  That’s probably not exactly true, but it is a fact that kids will not tolerate hunger as well as an adult.  Count on feeding them snacks throughout the day as well as good sized portions at breakfast and dinner.  Keeping high-energy snacks handy is critical and can help avoid meltdowns.

They get bored faster.  This is especially true with passive activities when they’re younger, like sitting in a canoe while Mom and Dad do all the work.   While in camp, have lots of quick, easy and fun activities to keep kids engaged and to prevent boredom.  Finding cool bugs, or looking for different colored rocks are examples of simple, but engaging  activities for kids.  Coloring books, plain white notebooks and crayons and colored pencils are great.  Anything to stimulate their minds.

They want to be helpful.  Kids want to be part of the action, and there are lots of fun duties that will make them feel like they are little campers.  At four, a kid can collect twigs for tinder; at six, pump a water filter.  At eight, they can help start the fire, and at ten they can start the fire themselves.  At twelve they help with dinner; by fourteen they’re cooking dinner. Kids want to be useful.  Resist the temptation to do everything because it’s faster.

About Safety and Risk

Taking these axioms and applying them without an eye toward safety is foolhardy.  Clearly, you want to pay attention to safety, but realize that there is inherent risk in outdoor activities.  The key is to minimize risk through education.

If you are going more than a 9-1-1 call from help, you’ll want some training.  Wilderness First Aid (WFA) is a weekend course designed to give you a basic understanding of dealing with injuries and other mishaps that happen outside.  If you’re hard core, the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) is an eight-day comprehensive course that teaches you how to provide some pretty serious aid while waiting for the professionals.  If you’re an EMT, there is specialized training for you to fill in the gaps when it comes to wilderness.

Some folks still question my sanity for taking my kids into wilderness areas.  My response is that I minimize risk through planning, education and keeping my wits about me.  I also tell them that the risks of not taking my kids to the rivers and woods are far higher than if I take them.  Risk cannot be eliminated, but it can be managed.  Only a foolish person faces the wilderness with a

pocket knife, a piece of twine, and a can-do attitude.  A wise person educates themself, teaches others, and shares their knowledge and love of the outdoors generously and graciously.  After all, we all had a mentor who taught us our skills.  It is only right that we pass them on to the next generation.

 

Cooky Jason’s July Recipe: Camping Scalloped Potatoes

Who doesn’t love scalloped potatoes? These can be prepped ahead of time and transported to the campsite in zip-top bags or plastic storage bowls. Once again we’re “pouching” here. So this can be done on a grill, over an open campfire, or at home in the oven. This is the basic recipe, but feel free to experiment with different cheeses, combinations of cheeses, and fresh herbs.

Major Players

· 6 large russet potatoes, sliced into 1/8 inch thick slices
· 6 green onions, sliced
· 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar
· 1 ½ cups heavy cream
· 1 cup diced mushrooms (note: you can substitute the cream and mushrooms with 1 10oz can cream of mushroom soup)
· ½ cup butter
· ½ cup crumbled bacon (cooked crispy)
· 8 to 9 garlic cloves, finely chopped
· 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
· ¼ cup olive oil
· ½ cup butter
· Salt and pepper to taste

Down to business:

Combine the potatoes, green onions, cheddar, garlic, parsley, heavy cream and mushrooms (or 10oz can cream of mushroom soup), bacon, salt and pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl or zip-top bags. (It may take more than one zip-top bag. That’s also a perfect way to transport this.) Tear off 6 to 8 squares of aluminum foil. Add a pad of butter to each and then evenly distribute the potato mixture among the foil squares. Seal the foil squares and place on medium heat for about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve…

How about a game changer?

Combine all ingredients but leave the potatoes out until ready to cook. When ready, brush the potatoes with olive oil and grill on each side for about 3 minutes, until you see grill marks. Then add them back to the cheese mixture and proceed as before. Add a few pinches of cayenne pepper. Done.

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.

Celestial Navigator – July 2014

There are few things more enjoyable during a night in camp than staring at the night sky.  Now you can be a celestial expert and dazzle your camp mates with your night sky knowledge.  There’s lots going in the July night sky, so grab your telescope and your tent and get out there!

July events:

July 12 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 11:25 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Buck Moon because the male buck deer would begin to grow their new antlers at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Full Thunder Moon and the Full Hay Moon.

July 26 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 22:42 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

July 28, 29 – Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by comets Marsden and Kracht. The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23. It peaks this year on the night of July 28 and morning of July 29. This should be a great year for this shower because the thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

excerpts from seasky.org

The Gear Doctor for July 2014

The old adage, “Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you” is an important truth to live by for campers, and one that is seldom more true than when it comes to your tent. At the end of a long day you’ll want your tent to be clean, comfortable and able to adequately protect you from the elements. Follow the suggestions below and you’ll have a tent that will take care of you and give you years of service.

When you get a new tent, always open it and set it up before you take it out in the wild. This allows you to practice setting up your tent and become familiar with the procedure before heading out into the wild.

Proper Storage – Let’s face it, unless you’re camping every weekend or hiking around the country, your tent will spend the majority of it’s life in storage. Proper storage will help extend the life of your tent.

1. Make sure it’s dry – nothing will start the downward trend of degradation in your tent like the mold and mildew caused by storing it when it’s not completely dry. If circumstances force you to break camp in the rain or when the tent is still damp, take it out and set it up to dry and air out as soon as you can.

2. Fold or roll it differently – folding your tent, or even rolling it, the same way every time you store it will cause creases to develop. Over time, those creases can and will result in damages to the material.

3. Store the poles and stakes in their own bags – every tent I’ve ever seen has a separate storage bag for the poles and stakes. Use them. Otherwise you could poke a hole or cause a rip in your tent.

At the Campsite – following a few simple guidelines will help prevent damage and extend the life of your tent.

1. Check your campsite before pitching your tent – make sure you’re not placing your tent on top of rocks, roots or uneven ground that can cause damage to your tent and an uncomfortable night for you, and that the nice, flat, smooth area you find is not the lowest point on the campsite. Otherwise you could be flooded out in a storm when all the water runs downhill into your tent.

2. Use a custom footprint – this helps protect the exterior floor of the tent as well helping to prevent water from gathering under the floor.

3. Keep it clean – Inside. Remove your footwear at the door to avoid tracking dirt and water inside the tent. The new PahaQue TentRugs add a layer of protection, comfort and warmth to your tent floor, and make cleaning out your tent super easy!

4. Keep it clean – Outside. There is almost no way to avoid getting dirt, stains, bird droppings, tree sap droppings and lots of other various things on the exterior of your tent. Always use clean water and a soft rag or sponge to clean up those stains or dirt as soon as possible.  Mild detergents are okay but be careful not to damage the tent fabric coatings.

5. Make repairs as soon as you see the problem – keep a tent repair kit on hand which contains at least a tube of seam-sealer, fabric repair tape,

Your tent is your shelter in bad weather and your protection from the elements in the great outdoors. With proper care, a quality tent can last many years and provide you with many days and nights of clean, warm, comfortable shelter