We've all seen it. The family outdoor adventure gone terribly wrong. Exhausted, crabby parents dragging kids, sometimes in complete meltdown mode, down trails, coaxing them, in vain, to come out of tents, or generally having to pander to them to get them to go outside at all. I know a lot of parents that fear these scenarios, a lot that have lived through them, and a couple that pretty much have no idea what I'm talking about. Michael Lanza and his wife Penny fall into the latter category.
Ask the elder Lanza's about hiking or backpacking with kids, even with infants, and they pretty much shrug and say, "Yeah, what's the big deal?" Talk to them about taking their kids backpacking in some of the most spectacular parts of the National Parks, and rather than recount mishaps, tantrums, and parenting fails, they talk about how proud they are of their kids, how they are always exceeding expectations. Michael even wrote a book about it, using his year of backpacking with his kids in the National Parks to highlight climate change and the urgent need to show our children the best of these wild lands before they disappear.
Along the way he does a pretty great job of demonstrating that kids can be treated just like anyone else outside, as long as you are willing to accommodate them. Kids need more sleep and more stimulation than us. They can't carry as much and they aren't as good at catching dehydration or hunger before it takes a turn towards grumpy. But they are game, resilient, and have a lot to teach us about ourselves and the world around us.
It IS possible to get outside with your kids, minus the meltdowns. And it's important that you do if we want them to be stewards in the future. So be brave, plan well, keep a positive attitude, load up the clown car, and get yourselves outside.
To read some of Michael's blog or buy his book: