So get the kids on the road and into a tent this summer. They may not appreciate it now, but they'll make memories that will last a lifetime—and you'll expand their world beyond concrete, iPads and soft, pliable toilet paper. They'll thank you for it in about twenty years ... maybe.
They Learn to do Something Physical Without Getting Points for It1 of 8
My kids have trouble with the idea of going for a walk. They typically say something like, "We're just going to walk for, like, forever, and not go anywhere and probably get lost?"
To which I reply, "Well, you've got some yes's and no's in there. I just want to get outside and walk around for a while."
To which they say, "Fine. That will give my Hairball Dragon egg time to hatch." That's not exactly the spirit I was aiming for, but I'll take what I can get.
Getting out into nature is about just being there, and in my opinion, kids don't get enough chances to do something solely for the experience. And if a bunch of dragons morph or hatch or whatever the hell they do while we're gone, then that's nice, too, I suppose.
They Learn How to Make do With Less2 of 8
Kids should have to deal with not having easy access to everything they want at least occasionally. This is especially true for kids like mine who are better off than others.
They should know what it's like—even if it's just for a weekend—to not be able to get whatever food you want out of the fridge at any time. They should feel what it's like to have one set of clothes with nothing to change into if they get wet or dirty. They should have to figure out how to entertain themselves without electricity.
They Learn How to Poop in the Woods(Important Survival Skill for the Coming Robot Apocalypse) 3 of 8
Given the current state of the world, I have had to move my estimate for the onset of the robot apocalypse up by a few decades. When it comes, the only place that is going to be safe is the woods. Our kids need to learn how to poop there.
They Learn What Quiet Sounds Like4 of 8
Unless my kids are asleep, they rarely experience what I would consider true quiet; there is always the ping from someone's phone, the revving of an engine or Maroon 5 playing somewhere.
When you go camping, sometimes you can find spots where the only thing you can hear is the sound of your own breathing. Well, your breathing and the voices of your kids asking if they can have a snack. They might not get it yet, but some day they'll be able to appreciate the silence.
They Get to See Animals in Their Natural HabitatsNOTE: Don't Let Your Child Get This Close to a Raccoon 5 of 8
Sometimes the wildest animal my kids see is Ron, a particularly nasty squirrel that lives at the local playground (Ron enjoys Goldfish crackers, but he is not to be trifled with). It's pretty magical the first time your kid sees a deer in the woods or a fish that's in a river and not an aquarium.
They learn that we don't own this world, but we share it and have to protect it. They also learn why Mommy said to pick up all the chips they dropped earlier in the day when raccoons are crawling around outside the tent at night, making them cry.
They Learn the Joys of Swimming in Rivers and Oceans Instead of Pools6 of 8
Swimming in water that doesn't have a chemical smell or any Band-Aids floating in it (that we can see, at least) is almost more fun than my kids can handle. The water outside is cold, fresh and seems to go on forever. There might not be a water slide, but I'll take it over splashing around in a pool of warm bath water with strangers.
Sure, your kids might find a tire in the riverbed or a crack pipe in the sand (both true stories), but then you can teach them about pollution and the dangers of drug use and ... you know what, maybe pools aren't so bad sometimes.