Youth Conditioning: Preparing your Child for a Summer Backpacking Trip in Yosemite
By; Juliet Ramirez, Assistant Program Director
The summer season is quickly approaching! The flowers are blooming, the bears are awake, and summer camp backpacking trips are right around the corner. This is an exciting time, and amidst that excitement, It is a great time to be asking- Is there anything my child can do to prepare for their upcoming backpacking trip? Yes-There are many things that will not only make your child more prepared, but will also ensure that they more fully enjoy their trip!
Here are a few tips that will help your child have the best experience possible:
- Engage in Regular Physical Activity
The best thing your child can do to prepare for backpacking is to become comfortable with physical activity. If possible, get out there and discover the local trails in your area. Have them go out on a hike. Visit the parks near your home. Explore the great outdoors, or explore the streets around your neighborhood. If that is not an option in your community, try other activities that simulate hiking. Visit the local gym and hop on the stairs stepper or take a job on the treadmill. Any and all physical activity, even sports or active games, will ultimately help ease the introduction into backpacking. Once a routine is established, try to increase that amount of activity in the weeks leading up to the trip. If hiking, try to increase distance and hike further. If in the gym, have your child increase time or intensity gradually, so that they can build endurance without risking injury.
- Gear Up
Wearing brand new boots on a backpacking trip can bring about plenty of blisters, aches, and pains. If your child is getting new boots for their trip, have them wear them as much as possible prior to their trip. The same goes for any other gear they may be bringing. If they have a pack, have them break it in before it is full and on the trail. If they don’t have their own backpacking pack, have them practice hiking around with some weight. A school backpack full of water and trail snacks can serve a great substitute on a day hike around the neighborhood.
- Condition emotionally by preparing together!
Conquering physical challenges can be tough and foreign for some children. Start small. Go on a small hike with your child. If the challenge seems daunting for you or them, encourage each other. Set goals together. Decide how many miles you want to do or even how much time you want to spend being active. Challenge each other to push outside of your comfort zones and grow together. This will set you and your child up for success. You will be reassured that they are prepared, and they will have them emotional stamina to know that they can push through challenges. It will also communicate to them that you support them through their wilderness journey, even when you aren’t physically together. Take this time to bond, and perhaps, it will inspire a backpacking goal for you and the whole family as well.
And finally, have fun. Whatever activity will get your child moving and having fun will benefit their future trip and ultimately make them more excited about their upcoming Lasting Adventure. Also have fun with your child! Get out and condition with them and you will be creating memories that last a lifetime on your own.