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How To Prepare For a Backpacking Summer Camp

So you’ve signed your kid up for a backpacking trip with Lasting Adventures this summer; now what? You and your child can do several things to prepare for backpacking summer camp beforehand to ensure a fantastic experience for everyone. 

Top Things to Prepare for Backpacking Summer Camp

Prepare Physically

Backpackers hiking into a canyon in Yosemite National Park.

The best way to prepare for hiking is, well, hiking! Get out on the trails in the weeks leading up to the trip. Utilize local parks and trails, or even take walks around the neighborhood. Prepare a backpack with water bottles and heavy items to mimic the weight of a backpacking pack. Create some challenges to make it fun and explore new places. Don’t forget to add in elevation with hills or even stairs if you live someplace flat. Being involved in school or intramural sports also helps kids tremendously when backpacking. The key is to come into the experience with some fitness level so that backpacking is enjoyable from Day 1. Backpacking is a challenge but embracing that challenge is where the growth happens!

Prepare Emotionally

One of the best things you can do for everyone is to ensure they have spent time away from home. Backpacking is usually a step outside our comfort zones, so ensuring your child is comfortable being away from home will help tremendously. On top of that, talk about the trip and help your child set goals centered around what they want to get out of the experience. 

Get Your Gear On

A smiling backpacker on top of Clouds Rest with Half Dome in the background.

Literally, get the gear, and try it on! Lasting Adventures provides kids with some basics for backpacking; a sleeping bag, backpack, and sleeping pad; however, there are some required items you’ll want to come prepared with. 

  • Water bottles (2-Liter capacity): These don’t need to be fancy; in fact, SmartWater bottles are the bottle of choice for thru-hikers trying to shave weight from their pack. Nalgenes are durable bottles (BPA Free!) that can carry hot or cold beverages and are also perfect canvases for stickers. Bladders like Camelback are permitted as long as there is also a 1-liter hard-sided alternative in case of malfunctions. Whatever you do, leave the heavy and massively oversized Thermoflasks at home.
  • Hiking Footwear: It is crucial that whatever shoes you choose, they are bought well in advance and broken in. A good rule of thumb: if you usually wear boots, wear boots; if you usually wear trail/hiking shoes, wear those. One thing to be aware of is the passing of hiking gear from generation to generation. It’s incredible to spread the love of backpacking, but it’s a bummer to come out of the backcountry with duct-taped boots or nasty blisters because they had been sitting in a closet for ten years and didn’t quite fit right.
  • Sandals: These are not only great for changing into at camp after hiking all day but are for stream crossings as well. That is why there must be a strap on the heel. 
  • Rain jacket: People often ask if they can ditch the jacket if there isn’t any precipitation forecasted. This is a hard no. The weather in the mountains is highly unpredictable, and storms can come out of nowhere. It is better to have a jacket and not need it than to need it and not have it. Rain jackets also are excellent wind barriers for the cold. Make sure to check that the jacket is, indeed, waterproof. If it is quilted, it probably is not. 
  • Personal clothing: There are many items to pack, so use our Equipment List to fill in the blanks. 
  • Accessories/Toiletries: Don’t forget chapstick with an SPF of 15 or greater, sunglasses to protect from UV rays at higher altitudes, and a mosquito head net. 

The equipment list for a backpacking trip may seem overwhelming initially, but you may already have many items on this list. For the things that you need to purchase, start looking early. Many retailers have seasonal sales like REI, and other stores have coupons simultaneously to rival REI, like Garage Grown Gear. Other stores to check out, especially for clothes, are TJMaxx, Ross, Marshall’s, REI Used Gear, and Goodwill. It is easy to spend a lot of money on gear and clothing that your child may grow out of quickly, so it’s worth the extra effort to find some deals now!

Get Excited!

An excited Summer Camp backpacker jumping for joy with their instructor.

Backpacking Summer Camp is often the highlight of the summer or even their entire teenage years. Get excited about it! Look at our website together and peruse pictures from past trips. Follow us on social media and start learning about the parks that we operate in. Go shopping for some gear together, followed by ice cream. Whatever you can do to make preparing for backpacking summer camp exciting, do it! The best thing kids can bring to these trips is a fantastic attitude and stoke for the adventure ahead!

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