Many children are fascinated by the outdoors and harbor fantasies of long trips into the woods where they can be self-sufficient and independent. A great way to support a child's interest in camping and hiking is by gifting her with some camping equipment of her own. As camping equipment can be spendy, it helps kids get a head start. However, certain potentially hazardous camping items, such as lanterns and stoves, are generally best left to the adults.
One of the cornerstones of any backpacker's equipment, a tent is a great gift idea in that it serves not only as a shelter, but also as a learning tool. Backyard camping is often a starting point for many young campers, and doing so in your very own tent just adds to the appeal. A simple starter tent that a child can learn to assemble by himself is simple to find at most outdoor supply stores. Frame or dome tents are both good choices for a child's first tent. If your child is planning to hike with only one other individual, a two-person tent is perfect, both for backyard camping and the real deal when the time comes. Even if you plan to share your child's tent, however, make sure that you act as a guest and not a co-owner. Setting up a tent teaches many additional skills necessary in camping, such as finding a good location for your campground, clearing a sleeping area and cleaning up after yourself.
Practically every child owns a backpack, whether it is for school, sleepovers or day trips, but a child-size backpack that features hip straps and a design to center load weight is a specialized piece of equipment and an excellent gift. Having a separate backpack that is not for everyday use makes using it that much more exciting. North Face and REI both carry a wide selection of smaller backpacks that are great for beginning campers. A backpack gift can also be accessorized with an assortment of accessories, including a compass, water bottle, inflatable pillow and glow sticks.
Another camping essential, a sleeping bag that is designated specifically for camping and not for sleepovers can be a memorable gift. If you are going to go to the expense of getting a serious camping sleeping bag, get one that is rated to a temperature of at least freezing. Any camper who is 12 years old or up should also generally be given an adult-size sleeping bag. Smaller children can be given bags that are designed for women, but of course, boys should not be made aware of this.
Article Written By Beau Prichard
Beau Prichard has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He specializes in fiction, travel and writing coaching. He has traveled in the United Kingdom, Europe, Mexico and Australia. Prichard grew up in New Zealand and holds a Bachelor of Arts in writing from George Fox University.