My teenage daughter and I have travelled many thousands of kilometres across this wide brown land. We crossed the Simpson last year, drove the Birdsville track and explored the Flinders Ranges the year before. We even camped on the snow the year before that. These trips have been great fun and terrific bonding trips for dad and daughter.
Successfully taking kids camping, and particularly on extended trips, requires planning and an awareness of everyone’s age and specific needs. Younger kids will often be happy with a DVD player or an iPad to amuse them while travelling long distances but socially connected teenagers require a little more.
Prior to one of our trips Elodie asked, “Will we be out of internet range?” When I replied that we would indeed be out of range, Elodie’s response surprised me. “Great,” she said. Even teenagers can feel the pressure of being available to their friends 24/7 and sometimes welcome a forced break from this. Being able to check in occasionally will still be important, but at least they have a good reason not to respond straight away.
Going bush doesn’t mean you have to leave all the devices at home, but its also a good idea not to let them rule. Some of the transport stages along the blacktop can be boring, but when on the dirt and camping, there is so much to experience and explore. Technology needs to take second place to what nature and the surroundings can offer.
For kids to enjoy the bush they need to feel safe to explore. Their comfort zones will expand as they experience new and exciting places. It takes time as a parent to engage with them and stretch their perception of what is fun. It is amazing how far kids can walk if they have the lure of lollies at certain milestones.
The bush can be full of dangers such as snakes or steep drops. Talking about what to do if they see a snake before they see one is important. Again it’s the preparation that overcomes the challenges that may
As long as it’s fun, and it generally is, kids love camping and travelling. Laying the groundwork early helps to make even teenagers want to head bush with their parents. It takes effort, but it has great rewards.
From before I can remember, camping has always been a thing my Dad and I have done together. We’ve had so many great experiences from camping in the Flinders Ranges to travelling across the Simpson desert. Whenever I feel like the normality of life and stress is getting me down, I always look forward to when we’ll go on our next adventure.
The one thing that makes me so excited to go camping again is that wherever we go will always be somewhere slightly different. There are so many diverse communities and landscapes that I’ve never seen before. We discover them in new
ways and they nearly always take my breath away.
As I’m a teenager, staying in contact with my friends is a really important thing for me, however sometimes when life feels too full-on, I welcome the chance at being out of range for a couple of days. It’s really nice to get away from basically being on call every second of my life, and just relax and focus on the now. I feel like that’s so important and isn’t something my generation gets to experience much of.
Being connected is still extremely important and Dad has always made this easier for me when we go on our long trips. After we’ve been out of range for a couple of days he’d always make sure we’d come back to phone range and give me some time to reconnect. It’s a great way to upload photos and show everyone what a great time we’re having!
There are a lot of things dad has done to make our camping life easier. The planning is important, as is packing the car with all the gear we need … and not getting too grumpy about how much stuff I insist on taking along! We work together with things, setting up camp, taking photos and preparing meals. It’s so much more fun when we feel like everyone’s putting in an effort making the trip work.
My dad certainly understands that long roads can be a tad boring after we’ve repeated the same playlist of songs about 15 times, so he doesn’t mind when I take the computer out to watch a TV show or a movie.
He always tries to make it easier for the both of us and that’s why I love going on our adventures together because we’re a team. Chatting in the car with the windows down and music up is a great way to spend the holidays as we travel down dusty roads together.
BY GARY AND ELODIE TISCHER