Don't Underestimate the Capabilities of Kids

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Submitted by damien on

This post is for you men out there who think that kids are a ball-and-chain holding you back from the life of adventure you are dreaming about. Here are a few statistics that you may not know about:

  • The youngest child to hike the Pacific Creat Trail (PCT) was 10 years old in 2004. The PCT is a 2650 mile long trail that runs along the West Coast of the United States, starting in Mexico and ending in Canada. To learn more about the PCT, check out the Wikipedia page. To read more details about this 10 year olds journey, check out this website.
  • The youngest child to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) was a 6-year-old boy who completed a flip-flop with his parents in 1980. In 2002, another 6-year-old boy completed a flip-flop thru-hike with his parents and 8-year-old sister. The AT is a 2175 mile trail which starts in on Springer Mountain in Georgia and ends at the peak of Mount Kahatadin in Maine. To learn more about the AT, check out the Wikipedia page. To read about other noteworthy AT hikers, check out the AT website.
  • The youngest person to solo thru-hike (i.e. without parents) the AT was 15 in 1995.
  • Jordan Romero has a goal to be the youngest to climb the 7 summits - the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. He is currently 12 years old and so far he has completed 5. To read more about Jordans adventures, check out his website.

Don't wait until your child's 16th birthday, and then try to coax them to join you on some big adventure.

Start the adventure now, when they are young, as soon as you can. Sure, you may only be able to walk a mile in a local park, but you have to start somewhere. Think long-term, this is a life-long relationship you are building, so make sure it has a solid foundation - built on love, trust, patience, fun, and friendship. In no-time the kids will be on-board for practically any crazy adventure you can imagine. Before you know it, you will be the one struggling to keep-up.



Damien, this is such good

Damien, this is such good advice (I know I'm your wife but really it's still great advice). I'm so happy you're committed to having our children join you and that you aren't leaving us behind as you pursue outdoor adventures with "the guys". You're such a great dad!

If you wait until they're old enough it's too late.

I am only 8 years into parenting, but here's my one somewhat original thought:
If you wait until the kids are "old enough" for an activity, then it's too late. They will have moved on- if they do take up the activity it may be without you.

Still, I presumed that just a few miles was probably the limit for small kids. Silly considering how easily they wear me out with all the running around. After reading Zero Days I realized that there's no reason kids can't put in an honest day's hike. We just have to plan it more through their eyes than ours.

Dad to 8 year old daughter and 6 year old son. Going camping tomorrow!

Great advice

Good for you on this post! There are way too many Dads who pursue adventures without kids. I love the references - amazing stories. I need to think more about this, and do a better job including my boys.


[...] Sathre-Vogel wrote a great post on living your dream with your children. We couldn't agree more! Don't underestimate what your kids are capable of, and in 20 years find yourself, as Mark Twain said "...more disappointed by the things that you [...]

I couldn't agree more!

Great post! One of the things I've said over and over again is that a parent should never, ever underestimate their kids - not even for one nanosecond!! Our boys cycled 9300 miles around the USA and Mexico when they were in third grade - and loved every minute of it.

Now, they are out cycle touring yet again - this time riding bicycles from Alaska to Argentina and are trying to break the world record for being the youngest people to do so. So far, they have pedaled over 8000 miles in 10 months on this trip - and they are only 11 years old. Kids are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for!