I took my son camping this weekend - just me and him - and we had a blast. I think that getting out in the woods and doing things, rather than watch other people do things on TV, is very important. And I get to - slowly - teach him some skills and values that will be helpful later in life. Doing it while camping just makes it more fun for both of us!
We stayed one night in Raccoon Creek State Park
, just about 45 minutes west of Pittsburgh. The campground there has quite a few nice, somewhat secluded, campsites for a modest fee. I can't wait for him to be a little older so we can go backpacking, but for now we'll use a tent at a real campsite until he's ready.
After setting up our tent, we headed down to the lake and rented a canoe. We paddled downstream for the first twenty minutes or so and stopped often to investigate anything and everything. Several branches from a submerged tree broke the surface and quite a variety of marine life was darting in and out. Paddling beneath a willow tree that angled out over the river was a treat – it became our fort and we staged several attacks on the ducks that attempted to invade. After an hour or so of cruising around the lake (paddling solo is definitely more work!) we headed back to the campsite and got our fire going.
We bought a few bundles of firewood but there wasn't enough dry kindling to scavenge, so I got to show him how to use a knife - Benchmade Rant 515
- to baton some of the logs into various size pieces for kindling. Possibly overkill for what we needed, but he got to see different ways that knives can be used as tools. He is very familiar with knives as I always have at least one on me. He will be the first to tell you that knives and firearms are tools, not toys, and that they should not be played with – only used when needed. It was awesome letting him help use them correctly and help him get some tangible experience to back up the verbal lessons he gets at home.
After dinner we sat by the fire and toasted some marshmallows before heading to sleep.
One of the highlights of the trip - for both of us - was when I gave John his first knife - a Kershaw Squaw Creek
with a two-inch blade and rosewood inlaid in the handle. He was very excited and wanted to use it to cut everything. I reiterated the dangers of a knife and how to use it safely and he was thrilled when he got to use it to cut up his hot dogs at dinner. It now lives in his tackle box at home.
I'm proud of the kind of guy John is becoming and hope that he continues to be interested in camping, hiking, and boating in the years to come!