I am spotlighting one adventurous family every month. I have sent the family a questionnaire that they have answered, sharing with us their adventure stories, their lessons learned and their tips and experiences on how they adventure as a family. I am hoping this will inspire, motivate and encourage all of us to get outside with our tykes.
Here we are with our second adventure family:
1. How many tykes in your family and how old?
One son, Owen, who is almost 8, is at home with us. We also have an older son,
Matt, who is 18 and lives in a group home to help him manage the challenges of
2. Have you always been an outdoorsy family?
Yes! My husband is a former National Park Service employee, and our lifestyle
has always reflected our love of nature and outdoor recreation. I’m also the
daughter of a forester, and my own childhood was spent hiking, camping,
snowshoeing, and exploring the woods. I don’t think I stayed in a campground
until I was an adult.
3. What’s your favorite outdoor activity to do as a family?
Currently, hiking and mountain biking seem to be the family favs. As our
youngest son matures, we’ve noticed a definite pull toward more challenging
hikes and bikes, and it’s fun to be able to include him on our favorite trails.
4. How old were your tykes when they went camping, climbing or hiking for the
I think our first camping trip was in South Carolina, when Owen was around
five months old. We survived falling ticks, screeching raccoons, and 90-degree
temperatures. Then we moved to Alaska.
5. As new parents were you anxious, scared, apprehensive or excited to go on your
first outdoor adventure with your tyke?
I was excited; I grew up camping, and my parents made it all work so smoothly,
so I guess I never really thought of it as anything but perfectly natural. Not that
we didn’t have challenges, of course. But I think with the right gear and a good
attitude, parents can take their kids anywhere and enjoy the experience.
6. Share a favorite story of hiking, climbing or camping as a family.
Our most recent trip was into the extreme backcountry of Alaska, deep in the
Wrangell Mountains. We stayed at the Kennicott Glacier Lodge and used it as
a base camp to hike around the Kennecott Mines area. This was the first true
test of our son’s ability to hike uphill for longer than a mile (10 total), and he did
wonderfully. I was so proud of him. The scenery and wildlife certainly helped, as
did my husband, who made up poems along the way….
7. What advice do you have for NEW parents who want to camp, climb or hike with
their tykes for the first time?
Just go. Equip yourselves with enough gear to be safe and happy, and go. Kids
are remarkable for their ability to have fun, no matter the conditions. I love that.
8. Did you receive any advice or wisdom from other parents about adventuring
outdoors with tykes that have made things easier?
See above. But add – try a shorter trip before hauling everyone and their kit
and kaboodle far from home for an epic adventure. The whole family needs
to take time to adjust to this newfound way of traveling/exploring. Take the
misadventures with the adventures, and laugh. Please laugh.
9. Do you have a piece of MUST have gear that you never leave home without
besides the necessities (ie. Backpack, tent, sleeping bags, etc.)?
We NEVER leave home without the best rain gear and fleece clothing we have.
Weather in Alaska can shift from sunny and warm to cloudy and snow in a matter
of minutes. Warm and dry kids are happy kids, and thus, so are parents.
10. Any parting words for parents that will encourage them to get outdoors with
Life is too short to worry about the little stuff. Kids get dirty. They fall down. They
put holes in their pants. But they’ll remember that stuff way less if we don’t sweat
the little mishaps. Every second of outdoor bliss is worth it.
Erin is so right. Life IS too short! Get outside! I hope you are inspired as much as I am by the Kirklands. If they can get out and play in the Alaska weather we can do it here in the lower 48.
Erin Kirkland is a travel writer and publisher of AKontheGO.com, a website dedicated to Alaska family travel and outdoor recreation. She and her crew have hiked, biked, paddled, and floated most of the state in an effort to promote the benefits of traveling together as a family. She wouldn’t live her life any other way.
Do you have any questions or comments for The Kirklands?
If you are an adventurous family and want to be featured or if you know a family you think should be featured shoot me an email at melissa(at)adventuretykes(dot)com.