Based on my experience, when telling a 6 year old "we're going camping this summer!" you tend to receive much happier feedback than when you say the same thing to a 16 year old. As your kids get into those teen years it is harder to get them to do anything, much less agree to be stuck in a car while you drive to a 'boring' campground and spend family time among the dirt and trees and campfires. And worst of all you ask them to put their cell phones away!! How dare you?! Granted there are always exceptions - like my dear husband Jason, who looked forward to every camping trip no matter his age. But for now we're going to stereotype all those teenagers we love.
Lucky for us, we have an amazing teenager in our lives whom we can talk to, laugh with, and then send her home when she starts acting like a typical teenager! My not-so-little sister Danielle (Dani to her friends) spends a lot of time with our family and enjoys the outdoors a great deal. But she's still a teenager who makes me want to pull my hair out and doesn't always want to do what we want. I know there are so many of you out there who are up against the same thing - maybe you're dreading an upcoming camping trip with your own teen or don't even bother planning a trip because of their feedback. This season in life should not stop you from enjoying these moments with your family - maybe we just need to try a different approach?
So today we're launching a new series called Teen Travel Tips (T3) to guide us through camping and road trips with teenagers and Dani will be our leader! First up, I wanted you to get to know her better so we're starting with a little Q&A:
Hey, I’m Danielle, I am 14 years old and Mandy’s younger sister. My sister asked me to share my opinion on some questions that involve participating in road trips and going camping with teenagers. I have been camping with my family since I was six-months old, and in all honesty I still love it today.
1. What is your favorite camping or road trip memory?
That's a tie between the time mom lit the camping stove on fire while making breakfast and my three year old nephew stood behind a tree and yelled "that's not supposed to happen!". And the very same trip where we were woken up by a heard of buffalo walking by the campground.
2. What is your favorite camping destination?
My parents and I don't go camping in a wide variety of places so I would say Golden Gate State Park.
3. What is your favorite thing about camping?
I love being in the mountains for sure. And of course camping food tastes way better than regular food! Why is that? Pretty much just the whole experience.
4. Do you like camping with your family?
Yes. Because I feel like being in the mountains and how that forces us to get off our phones because there is no service.
5.What are your favorite activities when camping?
Hiking, bike rides, playing board games, and I really like when the rangers do those discovery classes at the campground. Definitely not fishing, I only do that for Dad.
6.What do you want parents, grandparents, and siblings to know about the “rules” of camping with teenagers?
I would have to say that the number one “rule” is give your teenager some freedom. I know that as a teenager, I personally long for some freedom and independence. My advice to you is that if your teenager asks you if they can go off on a walk by themselves go ahead and let them. When I am camping with my parents they let me go off on my own for a bit, but they set some boundaries. Off the top of my head I know that if I want to go off the trail my parents tell me that I have to stop and turn around when I don’t see our campsite anymore, or if we brought my bike on this trip my parents normally say that they don’t want me going past the ranger station.
Another piece of advice that I would have to give is let your teenager come up with something that they want to do for the day. For example, if you are going on a four day camping trip come up with one day where you teenager has the power to decide what goes on that day. That is how it normally goes in my family and honestly it makes me feel more included in the trip.
I am so appreciative of Dani for agreeing to be a part of our blog and to be so honest with us - I know that she and I have a mutual dream of helping just one family bond over a campfire and we will be forever happy! Come back next week when we talk more about why teenagers just don't want to come along on camping trips.