I took her camping; she took her iPod.

We started taking our kids camping when they were both still in diapers. They were used to playing outside anyway, so camping seemed normal, only better, since they got to sleep in a tent and roast marshmallows around a live fire.

By the time they were five and seven, they could hike all day — as long as we included picnics, tree climbing, rock skipping, tag and other games to keep them engaged and their minds off what they were actually doing: walking up a big hill, then walking down again.We also bicycled to local parks, visited horse stables, went to the zoo, and prowled the botanic garden. Going with friends whose kids were the same age as ours made it more fun for us all.

During several spring breaks, we camped at Cinnamon Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It's a wonderfully safe place where children can flit about wild as birds and find endless fascination in hermit crabs, land iguanas, bats, and the myriad fish they see when they snorkel. My son eventually joined the Boy Scouts. My daughter became a dancer and a musician as she entered middle school, but we still made it a point to go hiking as a family a few times a year.

One summer, we spent a week white-water rafting, kayaking, rock climbing and rappelling in West Virginia's New River Gorge. I was thrilled that everyone was so "unplugged" from commercial culture and "tuned in" to the environment. Our last night, my son built a roaring fire so we could make s'mores. My daughter threw a few small logs on the coals, toasted her treat, then casually bid everyone a contented good night. When I checked on her a little while later, I found her snuggled up in the tent, her sleeping bag over her head, a mischievous smile on her face. She was plugged into her iPod, watching an old episode of The OC.

So…the best laid plans! I took solace in the fact that she was still under the stars…and doesn't a beach figure into The OC somewhere?

How do YOU keep yourself and your kids connected to Nature? Here's how the members of the Green Moms Carnival do it, courtesy of The Green Phone Booth.

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9 Responses to I took her camping; she took her iPod.

  1. Camper Annie May 11, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    I think just getting the kids out to enjoy nature is 90% of the job. If your daughter had a little down time in her tent at the end of the night, she still experienced the great outdoors. Sounds like you have made a good camper out of her. She didn’t whine, she just took herself away and spent a little time alone. You’ve made some good campers, congratulations.

  2. Betsy (Eco-novice) May 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    Yes, I think just getting them out is a big accomplishment. I’m not a fan of camping with very little ones, but hoping to get on this path soon. I have a lot of good memories of camping as a kid, teen and young adult.

  3. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking May 14, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Oh I think having your children outside doing activities together as a family is helping to make some wonderful memories.

  4. Lori Popkewitz Alper May 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    You were all together-what could be better? Nothing wrong with a little OC late night if that keeps your daughter happy. Some of my kids best memories are from their annual camping trip with a group of dads while the moms have a weekend away at on a yoga retreat! I’m willing to bet that a little technology makes its way on the trip every year.

  5. Green Bean May 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Doh!! Reading the title, I thought, oh well, if they’d started when the kids were little. Guess not but it is still just a brief respite in an otherwise unplugged trip!

  6. Dmarie May 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    *chuckle* and when she is older, she will take her children camping and while she sits by the fire enjoying the night air, they will be sneaking peeks at their technological playthings of the future. love it that you’re taking her camping. keep up the good work!

  7. Ruby (Science Camp) November 30, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    Congratulations! You have a very well brought up daughter. Their generation is probably the hardest to unplug and enjoy camping. But your daughter still do enjoy the outdoors with her family. And that is already amazing!

  8. buck knives February 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Nowadays it’s so hard to convince kids to immerse themselves in things that aren’t plugged. Take the effort to connect your children with mother nature once in awhile. Don’t let the gadget age take them entirely.

  9. sleepaway camp April 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    I see a lot of ipads in the camping grounds. When I go camping, I am sure not to bring any gadgets for the thrill of the experience.

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