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Taking my 6 year old backpacking on the 21st. Can’t wait. We live in the Willamette Valley and depending on weather we will be going either east to the Sisters Wilderness in the Cascades (alpine lakes etc) or West to the Coast Range (Oregon rain forests). This will be her first backpacking trip and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be doing this. For this trip it will be 3 days, 2 nights.

I’ve been thinking up ideas for skills we can get started learning. I bought her a book on local edible plant-life that she takes on our day hikes and is really cool. I was thinking of giving her one of my many flint & steels, a knife (folding best for kids?), and a compass (along with a basic survival kit). So far I’m thinking we should cover the following:

1. basic fire starting
2. knife safety (she’s chopped veggies but never put knife to wood).
3. plant safety (mushrooms etc)
4. basic map reading and orientation

I would probably cover shelter making, but she’s barely 6 yet and I plan on never being more than 100 yards from an established trail. Any other woodcraft ideas? Any concerns (I’ve dreamt up million)? Any suggestions for a 6 year olds first knife? I’m hoping to fish for trout either in a lake (east) or in a river or stream (west). She’s never cleaned a fish, so I’ll have her watch if we are fortunate enough to land one.
 

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All I can say is try to keep her interested with whatever it is she takes a fancy to. And be quick to give up when she loses interest with something. Move on and teach her where her mind is.

Asking if she hears the sound of a chipmunk will pique her attention and cause her to learn to listen...same with "can you see the hawk way over there" will make her want to see things before you, making it a game, and she'll become more observant. Being aware of the woods, both sight and sound, is a vanishing art. So many people miss so many animals when they're out there.
 

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Keep the hike under two miles. If you want your daughter to go again then it's all about fun!!! As an Old scout leader, at 6 years old she maybe to young for the activities you've plan. Giving a book on edible plants to a child that age is asking for trouble. Bring a coloring book. I don't mean to get down on you, but it seems you're expectations are way to high for a (barely) 6 year old. Give her her own backpack and have her carry some favorite toys, stuffed animal along with a packet of FD food, snacks. When she gets tired stop! Answer her questions but leave the teaching for another time. If she gets bored and frustrated or worse you do, she'll not want to go again. Practice knife safety at home. Whittle a stick at home(fingers bleed alot). Don't want her first memory of camping to be she cut herself. This way if it does happen "no big deal she's done it before". You can show her how to do things and ask for help, ask if she wants to try. If she doesn't let it go, there be other times. You want her to come home with a smile. The last thing you want is for her to come home thinking she disappointed you. Go and have FUN.
 

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She's 6!!!!

Her legs are a foot long, she has a 30 second attention span and is reading on a first grade level, so you are going to give her a wild plant guide, knife, compass and map and expect more out of her than Marine Boot Camp expects out of recruits?

Believe me, you do not want a 6 year old with firebuilding skills!!!

Back off and let the kid chase bugs, throw rocks and have some fun. Quit trying to live vicariously through her.
 

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Maximus
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...
I would probably cover shelter making, but she’s barely 6 yet and I plan on never being more than 100 yards from an established trail. Any other woodcraft ideas? Any concerns (I’ve dreamt up million)? Any suggestions for a 6 year olds first knife? ....
Ohh man don't skip shelter building... Kids LOVE that one! I mean heck we all remember building tents out of our sheets and stuff. Using sticks and branches are even better. Who cares if it is leaking or sucks... you use the tent later. It is just about getting her enjoying and loving it.

For a knife, I like just a standard Barlow. Drop point works well. I don't want clip points for my son yet. Though he is only 4. Blade lock is fine also. But cuts will happen. Just take care of the bleeding.

Fishing is hit or miss. Short attention spans so if you are going to fish don't worry about getting enough to eat. Even a small fry they will love to look at as much as a big fish.

Marsh-mellows are cool, fire building, cooking, maybe make an animal trap (even if it is non-functional and just imaginary).

Do six-year-olds fit into a back pack?
Depends on the pack!!! :D:





LOL
 

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Watchin tha world go by
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Make it a day trip, 6 year olds dont handle dark woods and animal sounds very well.
Plus they dont sit well for prolonged periods, like at night.

Have her start a butterfly collection, or another movement oriented activity.
and be prepared to carry her weight - literally -
 

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Make sure she has her own pack....with important (but light) stuff. Short trip, maybe two miles tops, to a fun location involving swimming, campfire, fishing. Bring plenty of comfort items for her. I had a blast with my girls...now they are some serious teenage troopers! Walk me into the ground these days! She will remember this first trip forever! If you make it too difficult or not fun, well..........
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the replies!

I started backpacking when i was 6. Granted, it was too far. I went 7 miles on the first day.

I think she's going to do great. She's 6, but she's tall for her age and on day hikes she does really well.

As for the teaching stuff, at this point it's all about having fun and getting her feet wet. Absolutely no pressure to perform. She takes her little edible plants book on our hikes and likes it, i don't think i could convince her to leave it if we tried.

As for night time i am a little worried. She normally sleeps from 8:30pm to around 7am so we may be okay. I worry that she'll get bored just "hanging out". Part of the reason i'm planning so many activities and teaching moments.

I think she'll be fine for two nights. I'm looking for a loop hike between 9 miles and 12 miles. That's 3-4 miles a day with plenty of stops to rest, eat, play explore... She has her own pack with good hip support. Her own sleeping bag, knife, headlamp, and flashlight too. Even a little first aid kit with bandaids :)

Believe me, you do not want a 6 year old with firebuilding skills!!!
Quote of the week!! i lol'd!
 

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Living To Ride
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Any other woodcraft ideas? Any concerns (I’ve dreamt up million)? Any suggestions for a 6 year olds first knife?
This is an awesome time but dude chill you already have to much on the plate back it up a bit. Focus on having fun. Remember first impressions and all that let her lead the way. Answer questions, help when asked. Of course keep them safe. Offer to teach them more next time out give her something to look forward too. A mora is a great knife she can have for a life time but no big if it gets broken or lost. Still I would hold off on that use it as a carrot a reward for learning. Let her know she earned it.
 

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9-12 miles is way to far. 3-4 miles is 6 to 8 miles. You want her to finish with plenty to spare not dragging. Short and fun. The aim it seems is to get her comfortable sleeping two nights out in a tent. If the days are relaxed and fun the nights will be to. Little steps for a little girl. Tell her stories of how it was like when you went camping at 6. Tell her stories of your father and granfather. Forget the teaching, bond with your daughter. The distance you take your relationship is more important than the distance hiked.
 

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Paladin of the Midwest
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Take all my kids camping, but there to little yet for hiking any distance. They handle night time very well and like to lay out on a blanket and look at the stars.... well the oldest 2 do anyway. Where we camp, it's just us - the woods - the river and thats it. Always makes for a good time. I would suggest starting out camping and then go into backpacking. Get them used to being in the middle of nowhere first. My eldest boy, six going on seven, is now expressing interest in going back packing now...
 

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The European Outdoorsman
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Taking my 6 year old backpacking on the 21st. Can’t wait. We live in the Willamette Valley and depending on weather we will be going either east to the Sisters Wilderness in the Cascades (alpine lakes etc) or West to the Coast Range (Oregon rain forests). This will be her first backpacking trip and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be doing this. For this trip it will be 3 days, 2 nights.

I’ve been thinking up ideas for skills we can get started learning. I bought her a book on local edible plant-life that she takes on our day hikes and is really cool. I was thinking of giving her one of my many flint & steels, a knife (folding best for kids?), and a compass (along with a basic survival kit). So far I’m thinking we should cover the following:

1. basic fire starting
2. knife safety (she’s chopped veggies but never put knife to wood).
3. plant safety (mushrooms etc)
4. basic map reading and orientation

I would probably cover shelter making, but she’s barely 6 yet and I plan on never being more than 100 yards from an established trail. Any other woodcraft ideas? Any concerns (I’ve dreamt up million)? Any suggestions for a 6 year olds first knife? I’m hoping to fish for trout either in a lake (east) or in a river or stream (west). She’s never cleaned a fish, so I’ll have her watch if we are fortunate enough to land one.
GREAT IDEA! I recently wrote a short article about how we are losing basic survival knowledge. Last week, I took some city kids to the woods to try to show them the same, it was tough because they were wild. By the end of the week, I was able to teach them the kind of wood you need for a fire (dry wood). Other stuff like shelter making and spotting animal tracks was too much for them. Thumbs up to you for showing your daughter whats up!
 

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I think what your teaching her is awesome I have a 5 year old daughter who loves to camp she loves to hike our longest was 4.27 miles with a 735ft elevation gain and loss and she went the whole way not a complaint we just stopped a lot so she could drink from my camel back. She just got a pink camel back scout for her birth day which was July 2nd she actually did that hike when she was 4. She loves to camp and fish as well. As for every one who days they don't sit still long I agree which is when I'm teaching something try to make it short and fun. Some times its easier to teach the same thing thing a couple times then try a long lesson. I found it helps if your lead them but start with lessons around things the like to do. If she likes fishing try a couple knot tying lessons. If she wants to help set up camp (mine does) explain to her about your tent if you bring a dog you and her can make a mini lean to for the dog. Try and include rewards. Rewarding positive behavior and knowledge retention is a great way to keep you attention. Think of it your work is sending you to and incredibly boring and uninteresting class. Probably won't pay much attention but if they said who ever does the best on the test at the end gets a brand new kirafu you will take notes in every thing. Make games out of things make it a little competitive but let her win a couple. Winning is a great way to keep her interested. The picture book of edibles is great. They may not read for them selves completly but can get familiar with the pictures. My daughter memorized car emblems and when we drive shouts that's a Honda that's a Ford that's a Mercedes and is right they can do it with wild plants. Get her a cheap compass don't worry about advanced map reading but when on a hike pull out you map and ask which letter the needle is pointing. Let them help and make sure they know that you know they are helping. Gather fire wood together and have her help you make the "log cabin around the birds nest" and then have her watch while you start the fire with your preferred method. The butterfly idea was good. Just like us kids need something tangible to touch and hold when they try something new. Food taste better when you caught it your self. Water taste better when it boils over the fire in your billy can hanging from the pot stand you made your self. For knives I recommend a basic swiss army knife they are not super Sharp but can still whittle and they have the scissors and other stuff heck let her pick her teeth with the tooth pick. I just thought of this concerning wild edibles get q large photo album with the white back that you can out pictures in and as you collect the plants take a little lice and put it in the photo album write its name and where you got it that's some thing she can keep and look at when not camping and she can show guests when they come over.
 

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First knife - Swiss Army Boy Scout

http://www.swissknifeshop.com/shop/...-knives/boy-scout/swiss-army-boy-scout-sentry

Don't let her out of your sight for even a second. Not even to go potty. A 6 y.o. has a fantastic capacity for getting into trouble. Also looks like a tempting morsel for critters who wouldn't consider taking on an adult.

At that age, "safety" is knowing there are things out there that can hurt her, snakes, poisonous and irritating plants, bees, mammals, etc., and that she should avoid them. Too young to reliably identify plants so I wouldn't even bother trying to teach about edible mushrooms and berries. As far as she is concerned they are ALL dangerous unless she is in your presence and you affirm that they are okay. Trail safety first. Stick to the trails, don't wander off, stay out of the water and if in the slightest doubt, stop moving and start signalling.

Knife safety? Keep it simple. Big difference between chopping some veggies and cleaning a fish or carving wood. At her age "knife safety" is best described as close parental supervision.

May be a bit young for map reading but is is worth a try. Too much info and it will just slide off. Don't try to turn her into a young Sacajawea. She has far more important things to learn, like how much fun it is to go camping.
 

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I am planning a backpacking trip for me and my boys. My oldest is 8 and youngest just turned 6 in may.

They have both been car camping several times and they both really love it.

For our trip, i have planned 4 miles for the first day, stop overnight then 3 miles the second day. I was a little concerned with weight for the little guy so he is carrying the dried food and light stuff like that. His pack isnt heavy at all and he wore it around the house for about an hour to see how it felt for him. This past weekend we took a practice trip to a local park. He was the one who brought up wanting to take his pack to see how it was over a trip, but instead I packed him more of a day pack but ended up with about the same weight. We went 3 mile and he carried it with no issues at all. In fact, at one point I offered to take it from him and he got upset. When his brother picked it up after one break, I let him take my camelbak and he carried that for the rest of the trip. We did 3 miles total and I am confident that they can do the 4. My wife even commented on how well they did.

I was really shocked to see how much water they drank. Make sure you have plenty, and stop often and remind them to drink something. Snacks for on the go are also very important, to keep their energy levels up. We didn't have alot of snacks on our day trip and by the end they were dragging a bit. Not tired, but run down and out of steam. As soon as we got some food in them they perked right up. A bag of M&M's to give out on breaks or something like that would do wonders.

The key is to keep them excited. We spent the last few weeks talking and planning it out. I bought some oak dowels for walking sticks from home depot and they painted and added leather tassels and stuff to it to make them their own, and I put paracord grips on them. I bought them each an emergency whistle, the kind with a crappy compass and empty tube for small stuff. They loved them and I told them I would teach them how to use the compass's. They also each got their own metal cooking cup that the are responsible for carrying. I printed them each out a topo map of the area and they get to carry it. These things might not seem like a big deal, but kids like to have their own of a thing. They really feel grown up when i give them a tool like a map and compass.

I teach as things come up. If I see a track I stop and wonder what it could be, and see if they can come up with it on their own. When we sit down to build a fie, I let them help me set it up so they know how to do it. Same with the shelter. They love setting up a tent and sleeping in it, and the idea of building a shelter from scratch is very exciting to them.

I bring glowsticks and they each get one every night. Works as a nightlight and makes them feel better, plus glowsticks are just fun. They each get a flashlight as well. They have slept in tents before so I don't expect a problem there. The youngest has a small stuffed animal picked out to bring.

I say go for it and let the trip happen as it may. These are the sorts of things that they will look back on and remember you fondly for.
 

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My little girl is 5, we camp in the RV often, short hikes and "play" a lot. She loves to go. She always wants to stay in a tent if her nana comes too. Me...Getting to comfortable with the camper.

I tell her what bird makes what sound and then have her tell me later when we hear the same sound. She has a compass but no knife. I don't think she's ready for one yet. I have her help with the fire but not the lighting of it.

Have her help with packing of food "her comfort food too" She should be able to bring a few light toys as well. When we fish, it's about having fun. When she says she's done we pack up and go.

Don't forget bug spray and remember to check out the stars if she's awake that late.

#1 HAVE FUN!




 

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Great topic! I was just going to post a question on this very thing, as I just got back from camping with my sister and niece. Niece is 5, and we only made about a 1/4 mile of our planned hike, when my niece started complaining that she was hot and tired and could someone carry her. So we turned around and walked back to the car. She was more interested in throwing rocks in a pond we passed. Also, she had only about a 30 second attention span while we were camping. I was getting dizzy from the constant change from one thing to another!
 
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