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Adventure Upgrade: Take the Family Hiking and Camping

Use these tricks to get your kids begging for another trip outside.
camp pizza bailie 445x260Camp Pizza (Justin Bailie)

Reader Brent Bauer, 45, Broomfield, CO
» Problem “When my 7-year-old gets bored, she’ll basically boycott the rest of a trip. How do I make hiking fun and comfortable for my kids?”
Expert Jen Aist, author of Babes in the Woods: Hiking, Camping, and Boating with Babies and Young Children
» Solution “There are three things that go into making backpacking trips great for kids. First, bring comfort food, like pizza; it will boost the morale of even the biggest grumps. Second, plan trips that won’t be too hard. Third, pack games or invite a friend, and set goals that will make hiking fun.”



Plan Kid-Friendly Hikes
Prep right and choose no-sweat trails.

» Practice. Dayhike with kids fully outfitted, so you can fine-tune their gear. Practice backyard campouts, too.
» Set realistic goals. As a general rule, plan a half-mile per year of age, and schedule a rest stop every 45 minutes.
» Snack and hydrate. Make sure everyone’s snacking. Active kids (between the ages of 5 and 12) need 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day and as much water as adults, about 64 ounces.
» Pick kid-friendly destinations. Choose trails with playgroundlike features, such as streams and boulder fields.
» Give kids control. Teach them about layering, pack clothing appropriate for the lowest temps you expect, stand back, and let them self-regulate. “Kids are very capable,” says Aist.

Camp Pizza
Cook up Aist’s kid-friendly pie, and
see page 56 for a complete family kitchen kit.

14 ounces of ready-made dough
1 1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/4 cup each of 2 to 5 pizza toppings
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
 
At Home
Form dough into four 8-inch rounds and prebake (check package directions for oven temperature) until dry to the touch. Cool and wrap in foil. Pack sauce in a spillproof container. Chop toppings and store in zip-top bags. Crusts will last three to four days in your pack.
 
In Camp
Oil your pan and grate the cheese. Place one crust in the pan, add one-quarter of the pizza sauce, toppings, and cheese. Cover and cook pizza on very low heat for 5 to 12 minutes (until cheese is melted). Repeat with remaining crusts until complete. Serves 3 to 4.

Make Hiking Fun
Entertain and Challenge kids.

» Bring lightweight toys. Binoculars, magnifying lenses, Frisbees, fishing rods, and kites are amusing, but not heavy. For high-flying, portable fun, try Prism Designs’ Stowaway Parafoil kite ($35; 4 oz.; prismkites.com).
» Turn chores into challenges. Make a game or race out of camp projects. For example: Who can pitch the tent fastest, or gather the most kindling?

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