One of the ongoing debates at Sure Foot is centered around this question: How young is too young for a kid to come to the woods?
Jonah thinks a kid of any age can enjoy exploring the woods. I’ve never been so sure that would be so enjoyable for the parents. (Babies and toddlers seem hard enough indoors!) But last year we had a lovely trip with a 4 year old. And this past weekend our Friends School of Atlanta trip with families included a 3 year old, a 6 year old, two 7 year olds and a 9 year old. I’m happy to report that everyone – including the 3 year old and his dad – had a great time. (It didn’t hurt that our youngest hiker was adorable, with the best hiking pajamas ever – see photo at right.)
But this entire group was super-fun: all eager to learn, willing to try new things, and excited for some good trekking. In two days, we meandered through day hikes totaling about seven miles, pausing for long breaks filled with nutella and water play and spectacular views of waterfalls. After Jonah gave a quick demo about edible wild plants, the 9-year-old gleefully plucked the new growth off hemlocks and chewed the tender needles. Back at camp, the 6 and 7-year-olds played “chase” and “karate” and delighted in some outdoor finds: “crystals” (rocks that glittered) and – less shiny – some real, live, snails. Adults took turns carrying the 3-year-old when he got tired, and then cooled off their feet in the creek while drinking wine before a delicious dinner of African Groundnut Stew. What could be happier?
I’m a big fan of family trips in part because it’s so rewarding to watch parents with their children. One family had decided to spend this weekend together because their 9-year-old would soon be going on a big, three-week-long trip with friends. On this camping trip, families spent meaningful time together without the pressures and time crunches that often inundate us all at home. Facilitating outdoor adventures and family time is as rewarding as it gets! Now this is fun for all ages.