Backpacking with a Grade-Schooler

12:18 p.m. on July 4, 2009 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Backpacking with a Grade-Schooler"

Backpacking with a grade-school-age child can be a magical experience. But keeping that child safe and happy calls for a little forethought on the part of parents, friends, and Scout and youth leaders. Whether it’s a weekend overnight or a thru-hike, keep three concepts in mind: packing, playing, preparing.

Full article at

1:57 a.m. on July 5, 2009 (EDT)
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The Boy Scouts always backpack with grade schoolers and high schoolers too.

Our Troop has taken new 11 year old Scouts out on their FIRST back pack to Bear Lake near Sonora California as a NIGHT backpack, always very successfully too.

In the winter we have taken new Scouts snow camping... with a previous thorough gear training and gear check, as well as training in how to camp in the snow. (I help teach adults and older Scouts Basic Backpacking and Winter Camping for the Council's H.A.T. Team [High Adventure Training])

I have a friend also a BSA Leader on the H.A.T. Team, who went on a weeks family b-p at 5 years old... that was 55 years ago. His mom made him a backpack, he carried the family's bread supply... all of two loaves.

He still has that b-p and the photos to prove it.

The point is, that even at 5 years old, he was able to contribute to the group's effort.

1:30 a.m. on July 24, 2009 (EDT)
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That's cool. My kid loves to hike, and we go camping. So far, we haven't gotten the chance to take him backpacking. I guess we need to do that.

4:44 p.m. on August 3, 2009 (EDT)
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I recently read Barbara Egbert (the author)'s book, Zero Days: The Real Life Adventure of Captain Bligh, Nellie Bly, and 10-year-old Scrambler on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I found it an enjoyable read about a backpacking family, well perhaps I should say an extraordinary backpacking family.

Here's the description from Barbara's website:

"Zero Days" is the true story of how two middle-aged Californians and their daughter hiked the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2004. Published by Wilderness Press in Berkeley in 2008, "Zero Days" tells the tale of the trail from the viewpoint of author Barbara Egbert, photographer Gary Chambers and 10-year-old Mary, aka Scrambler, as they learned which family values could survive six months of blisters, dirt, and extraordinary exertion amidst some of the world's most spectacular scenery.

Families interested in doing more backpacking with their kids will find Barbara, Gary, and young Mary inspiring, and yet still familiar.

8:37 p.m. on August 4, 2009 (EDT)
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I was quite impressed with a 10 year old daughter hiking the entire PCT. My youngest son asked for backpacking trip with just me and his (at the time) 17 year old brother for his 10th birthday last Nov. It was both sons first trip. My youngest has been twice now, and my 9 yr old daughter has been once. They both did well, and ultimately liked it. Its the whole walking with a pack that my daughter hated.

12:42 a.m. on August 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Great article! I'm ramping my son's endurance up for a late fall weekend hiking trip above Idyllwild and Barbara offers some excellent tips and perspective!

April 21, 2018
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