Last weekend, I took my seven-year-old son on his first backpacking trip. For my ten-year-old daughter, it was her fourth trip into the wilderness. Why do I take my children on these overnight adventures when we already live in a place more wild and natural than designated wilderness areas? The minimalist experience and little bit of suffering endured along the trail has made my children better people and me a better mother.
Backpacking is not just about physical endurance, there is a psychological factor as well. Feeling the strain of the heavy back as you ascend upward towards your final destination, which in our case is a high alpine lake, overcoming the feelings that you can’t make it, only taking the essentials, the communal nature of shared meals and equipment….all of these factors create an experience that can’t be beat by any amusement park!