"Set the hook!" I barked, as the bluegill pulled my daughter's bobber under. With a quick jerk the fish was caught. She battled the panfish to shore where I took a few photos and presented a kiss to her forehead. At the age of 13, taking orders or accepting advice is an event that is not accepted as well as they were a few years earlier.
Immersed into the action of catching fish for camp supper, my daughter's occasional, teenage-sassy attitude was absent. I couldn't help but to think back to the times when she and I shared the outdoors before the teen years arrived. The flow of, "Why do they do that?" or "How does it sleep?" questions, were transformed into, "I know, Dad" (with rolling eyes) answers.
As a parent, one does not look forward to their children entering the teen years, because of the rebel attitude that some teens acquire. Another reason a parent resents the teen years is, the unpleasant thought of their child growing older and the time spent together will soon be reduced. Even though camping has been a pleasure so far in the teen's life, it may now seem less desirable. It's the parent's duty to keep the welcome mat in place at the campsite for the teenager to feel welcome during these trying years.
While planning a camping trip, remember to get the entire family's input. By including the teen in the planning of a trip, the need to have their opinion heard will be fulfilled. Camping chores should be enjoyed, not resented. Letting the teen choose which chores he or she wishes to do would quench the teen's thirst for a share of control. Include the teen in the planning of meals, you may be surprised to find that you have a Betty (or Benny) Crocker in the family. Of course don't forget the quest to build the campfire, which can be entertaining for first timers.
The teen's gear bag may need to include a few new pieces: personal CD player, notepad and pen, a book, an electronic hand-held game, and camera. Most teens enjoy a few minutes alone, listening to their favorite music, writing a letter to a friend back home, keeping a journal, or taking photos for their own album can enhance the teen's trip.
What Are Friends For?
The thing teens seem to enjoy the least about family camping trips is leaving their friends at home. Actually, the friends of teen campers are usually excited to try camping. Even if you only have half of your teen's attention, that's better than none. The teen years only last for a short time and the rewards of pleasant memories of the happy family camping trip will last forever.