Are you taking your older kids backpacking for the first time?
Here are six factors you need to consider:
1. What are your plans?
When planning your scout’s first backpacking trip, you need to consider several questions. What are your goals? How many days and nights will you spend away from home? What are your kids’ limitations? How far can they hike?
By knowing the answer to these questions, you can then plan carefully on how to best accomplish your goals.
2. Are your scouts ready?
Your older kids may be more capable than your younger ones. However, you should still take into account their mental and physical readiness.
Have they done training hikes before? Have they built up their skills, endurance, and muscles for the whole backpacking trek?
If they haven’t yet, it’s best to teach them the basics first, build their outdoor skills & ease them physically into backpacking so they can build up especially the leg, back and mental muscles they will need.
3. Are your scouts in an excellent mental and physical state?
Trekking requires not just physical fitness but also being in a good state of mind. After all, going on a long, arduous journey on foot will surely exhaust your energy and can tax the mind.
I was once in this troop with a kid with schizophrenia, and he kept wanting to walk home. It gave us quite the problem.
I have also heard about scouts in wheelchairs. If your child needs one, make sure that their gears are up to the whole adventure.
4. What nutrients do your growing scouts need?
Are you bringing the right food and treats for the whole trek? Do their foods account for the high-calorie burn rate of the adventure? If yes, that’s great! If not, you need to pack plenty of treats to meet their nutritional needs. The last thing you’ll need is a scout collapsing from both hunger and exhaustion.
5. Have you checked the weather forecast?
Some years ago, there were a few cases of scouts dying on camping and backpacking trips due to heatstroke and lighting strikes. Clearly, it pays to check the weather forecast before heading out for a hike. Not only will it keep everyone safe, but it will also let the scouts enjoy the whole adventure to the fullest.
6. Are your scouts using the right gear?
A backpacking journey is usually long and taxing, so be sure that your scout has the right gear for their size. This usually comes in two forms: 1) the weight of the gear and 2) your scout’s ability to carry it.
For long journeys, it’s ideal for a scout to carry less than â…“ of their body weight & all their gear should properly fit them, like their sleeping bags, nothing is worse than freezing at night because you “will grow into it”.