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Topic: What Age is Safe?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2012, 3:40 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've been hiking and camping with both of my daughters since they were babies, and have the skills to keep them safe.  However, with other people and their kids along, when do you all think a kid is big enough for wilderness camping?  This goes for wilderness car camping too.
It seems like it depends on the kid, but it is good to have a set age to avoid any issues.
I'm thinking 13, unless you are friends with the family.
Thanks!  :D


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2012, 6:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

25, maybe 30.  Oh, you mean to take along with your family.  Opposite sexed friends-- under 8 or over 30.  :)    Same sex friends, 10 -12, depending on how well they listen to instructions.  I issued whistles to every child  (7-15) at a family reunion camping trip. Told them they could blow it as much as they liked for 5 minutes, then it was for emergencies only.  Worked like a charm.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2012, 9:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As in backpacking? My oldest was doing it at 5. My two youngest will start much younger. It depends on the parents and how comfortable they are with their kids - and how the kids react.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2012, 10:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My kids have been hiking since I had to carry out all of their diapers !!

This is from a 19 day, 120 mi thru hike when they were 5 and 10 years old.



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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2012, 11:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In case anyone missed it, I was mostly responding tongue in cheek, to the thread title.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 22 2012, 1:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As a mom who's taken other people's kids out too, I'd say old enough to know what they're getting into, so they can make an informed decision, and not get scared, maybe 10. If the parents will be along you can talk to them about any dangers or concerns.
As for hiking, as long as they can and will follow basic safety & emergency instructions, I'd worry more about their getting tired and wanting to quit.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 24 2012, 9:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

PB's been sleeping mostly in his own tent while backpacking since he was 5 y.o.  He's 14 now, and the only time he has shared a tent with an adult (i.e. me or my sister) is when it logistically just doesn't work to bring an extra tent, i.e. we are flying somewhere and can't squeeze in an extra tent.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 24 2012, 3:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sharing our love of the outdoors with other adds a whole new facet of enjoyment. I love sharing with new ones. In two weeks I will be taking my brother and his two children on their first trip, an overnight. Will be a lot of fun I am sure.
In the original post her though, I see two issues:
1. Child with a parent or legal guardian going.
2. Child without a parent or legal guardian going.
The first is my preference of the two. I usually involve the parent in the planning and sizing up the abilities of the child in view of our plans. Day hikes are great for seeing how people both young and old respond to the trail.
The second is a little more of a challenge. I still involve the parent as much as I can in planning and so to keep them informed. I also require that for any minor child to go with me with out a parent, I must have a signed consent letter that also gives me permission to get medical attention for the child in an emergency. On the letter I also ask for information about any known allergies, medical conditions, child's doctor, other contact information, etc. Date the letter effective for the period of the trip plus a couple days perhaps. I will not take a minor with out this step. No exceptions.
Let me give an example. Here recently a child fell 35 foot off a waterfall on a local day hike trail. I do not know detail of the situation, but imagine you were taking a friends child for the day, the child's parents decide to take advantage of a child free day themselves going away themselves, and this occurs. If you have not planned ahead, an accident has just become a 100 times worse. I think you see the point. Ones will tell you , "well they have to treat the child any way" this is true to a point, but it is much better and safer to just take the time to dot the i s and cross the t s. I have never had a parent have an issue with this. Actually they have commented that they appreciate the efforts to care for the child so well. I use this on any trip.
But that said, do things right and don't hesitate to share you passion with others. Your joy will increase so much as you see others young and old take to the outdoors.
Happy trails :)
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 25 2012, 12:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Re: other people and their kids ... there are plenty of adults I wouldn't take in the woods.  Most of them, in fact!  :p

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 26 2012, 12:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have never taken anyone else's kid along without a parent, and in fact haven't gone with anyone who wasn't already a backpacker.  I think I would only take a child who was very close to my kid/s, and was used to sleeping over,so that I would know of any potential issues.  That's probably being on the cautious side, but I really wouldn't be very comfortable being responsible for someone else's kid.  I'd feel like I had to be more on watch, and couldn't let them have the same freedom we give ours.  

Though I guess I'd be pretty comfortable letting Sarbar's or Cajun's kids come along and take care of themselves, since they know how.

FWIW, our boys have slept in their own tent since they stopped nursing at night (not quite true.  Eldest Son shared a tent with us his first summer.  The next summer he slept alone in a tent, because his baby brother displaced him.  But we didn't BP that summer, so he slept in the same port-crib he used most of the time).


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 28 2012, 2:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"was used to sleeping over,so that I would know of any potential issues."
For me this is key.... but having taken many peoples kids out camping as a scout leader, it is often EASIER if their parents ARE NOT along!!!  More often then not, the whining and attitude is worse with the parents there than it ever is without them.
10-11 years old is about the youngest age for me to take someone elses kids out.... and the offer only goes to kids I know will behave.

"Here recently a child fell 35 foot off a waterfall on a local day hike trail".... irronically he was with his MOTHER!!! It was a 5yo boy that went off trail.... I hike this area about once a month.... trail is WELL defined - young kid too far away from parent on a marked trail to 'Big Lyon Falls'.... need to watch the little ones closely!
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 28 2012, 8:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Funny about the whining--our kids dropped it like a hot potato as soon as there were other adults around, even when we were there.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 28 2012, 8:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I started mine when they were around 5.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2012, 2:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great stuff everyone!  Thank you.
See, the good folks on this forum are already outdoor enthusiasts.  The issue I see is taking city kids into an unfamiliar backcountry, filled with mosquitoes, ticks, blisters and opportunities to fall off cliffs.  We live in a mighty soft world, and a lot of folks expect full service.  These are the ones I worry about.  Not just the kids either...
My youngest girl was on my back into Middle Santiam Wilderness at 2 months old!  And the trees seemed to calm her.  Lovely life.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2012, 12:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Depends on the kid, and on the trip.  My son's first overnight was when he was 6, but I was carrying all the gear.  Every year thereafter he did more and more backpacks.  

In scouts, I take 11 year olds on trips, but we check their gear and make sure they are equipped and their pack is light enough that they can carry it. Their trips are generally easy at first, working up to harder trips.  Having a parent of the kid along is a big safety factor, but the parent can end up waiting on the kid also.  "Here Jimmy, I'll blow up your air mattress for you.  I'll start your stove.  I'll set up your tent."  Its hard for some parents to break that habit.  

Also, if its a 1 mile hike, like my son's first overnight, the bail out option is pretty easy.  So its a combination of the kids age, sturdiness mentally and physically, proper gear, parental presence for backup load lightening duty, length of trip, ease of bailing out.  

One thing you have to adjust is your goals for the trip.  The trip has to fit the weakest person's abilities, so any goals you have of reaching your favorite lake, forget it.  Set the trip to the kid's abilities. Also, plan on doing some entertaining, with stories around a campfire, singing songs, having popcorn or marshmallows, etc.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 26 2012, 10:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I took my son hiking when he was 3 weeks old :)  We're going to try car camping here in a week or two, before he's 3 months old.  Hope to go backpacking before he's 6 months old.  My parents did much the same with my sister and I, and in my work I see plenty of infants/toddlers going hiking and camping with their parents.  I believe that starting younger is better.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 27 2012, 1:02 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Like the OP and just about everyone else who has responded, I've been taking my own children since they were infants.  I've led dayhikes and overnighters for youth groups several times, with expectations clearly stated, an adequate number of adults, and signed release forms. I've led dayhikes for our neighborhood play group of toddlers and pre-schoolers, but only with parents along.  I've never taken young children without their parents, and I'm not sure I would.  I'd have to know the kid and the parents very, very well to even consider it.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 11 2012, 12:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My kids started out when they were in diapers, but there you have it, "Leave No Trace" takes on new meaning, since we all need to pack out what we bring in. When it's your own kids, assess the risk, and know that you could always run into problems. When it is someone else's kids you take into the outdoors, treat them as would your own and understand that you are caring for the absolute treasure and love of someone else's lives. Base what you do on that. "It takes a village" takes on new meaning too.

Any form of waivers, permission slips, health info, and the like is there to protect you at some level, and them. Know their medical history. Let parents know there is always a risk, and the kids. The older the kids, the more responsibility they can have too, and walking through absolutely everything with both the kids and the parents is an absolute. If you take your own kids, do the same. they need to know what to do in emergencies, and how to prevent them. We have "First Aid parties", where the kids take the basic first aid class together, then we celebrate with pizza (don't choke on the pepperoni). Older kids can get in Wilderness First Aid courses, which are available if you look in your community. If something happens to you, or someone they are with, knowledge can make a difference. It also empowers them to learn as much as they can at any age.

How old? It depends on where you are going. With the younger ones, it isn't a bad idea to stay close to civilization, so to speak. If they will be doing their own hiking, then always keep it very short to start with. And by all means, visit the same places through all the seasons, kids relax when they get to know an area, and are less whiny about hiking in the first place (go back...again and again).Go at their pace. When they need to rest, rest.

Watch them closely to make sure they are hydrated and well fed. Maybe be more vigilant than you would be for yourself. They depend on you. Watch for signs of heat stroke, hypothermia, headaches, tummy problems, and treat them immediately if they show. But better yet, prevent any of that from starting in the first place. Know what you need to carry with you to treat anything that might come your way.

Keep eyes and ears open for danger...it is out there, but enjoy the time with the kids, share the experience with them. Point out what you see or appreciate casually. They will remember everything, and maybe pass it on to their own kids. My oldest is now 24, and takes her own friends on trips. My youngest is 12, and I take his buddies out whenever I get the opportunity. They and their parents give me thank you's, making all the instructions of how to poop in the woods worth it. I take kids out in my community that have never been out hiking before. I see them grow.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 14 2012, 10:50 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've seen two different ideas in the this thread.

1) taking your own kids
2) taking someone else's kids

You own kids . . . . whenever you feel like it.

Other people's kids? I guess I don't see backpacking any different than any other activity like going to an amusement park or concert. If I am going to accept the personal responsibility of the child, then I want to be comfortable with their parents.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 14 2012, 11:28 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's funny you say that (about the amusement parks). The bargain I made with kids, for the second year in a row, is that they get in backpacking, camping, and dayhikes with me, then I would be their chaperone to the local amusement park. The best of both worlds for the kids (including my own). Although I'm usually toast after the first day at the amusement park (I don't like crowds), their parents are grateful for me keeping these kids busy. Takes a village...
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