10 Incredible Reasons On How Backpacking Prepares a Teen For College
In today’s crazy electronic, social media, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest world it is important that we continue to educate and have children and teenagers explore the Great Outdoors.The fundamentals and independence that they learn while participating in the outdoors will be the best gift any parent can give to their children to prepare them for life. Everyone at Outpost Wilderness Adventure loves to watch that moment when a shy or insecure teen breaks out of that shell and confidently embraces the next phase of their life. We like that feeling so much that we wanted to write our top ten reasons on how a simple activity like backpacking can prepare a teen for college and taking their first steps away from the nest.
1. Simplicity of Life
Teenagers have a lot of stresses. They have school, maybe work, and tons of extracurricular activities they can participate in. There is also the huge stress of preparing for standardized tests and getting into a college. Just like everyone teenagers need to de-stress and sometimes may need guidance in how to do this in a healthy manner. Backpacking takes life back to basics and simplicity. You have everything you need on your back. It’s a reminder or an eye opener of how little one needs and turns into a great appreciation of what one does have.
2. Cars, Planes, and Trains
Backpacking will take you wherever your feet can go. There are views most people in the world won’t see. This can be treasured and makes for some great photographs. It also can teach the importance of a carbon footprint and how walking can make a difference. This can be transferred to walking or riding a bike to classes or work. Lots of freshmen and college students in general don’t have cars. Walking to class will feel like a breeze compared to walking up a mountain!
Worried about your teen going off to college and not knowing how to cook? Backpacking teaches the easiest most simplistic form of cooking so at least you know your child won’t starve if not in the dorms. We cook lots of different meals around a stove or campfire. Some of those are teen favorites, mac and cheese, Ramon noodles and bean and rice. All good appropriate college foods.
4. How to Poop in the Woods
This one can really stress some people out. So much that there is even a book about it!
Most often than not college dorms have shared bathrooms and showers. If one can poop in the woods they are more than likely going to be less shy about doing their business in a community bathroom. Plus they can daydream about the amazing views they had when pooping in the woods. We are obviously having fun with this one but it is a concern for kids and we added it to the list as dorm/college life is stressful and this is a concern for teens.
5. Trip Planning Responsibility
We always tell our campers this is your trip! We expect them to help cook, clean the dishes and plan their trip. They are given maps and compasses and are told where the campgrounds are located. This is teaching them a new skill in case maybe their Iphone dies one day. It also gives them the responsibility of being in the woods and needing to get to their appropriate destination. When they are in college, there is no one there to really guide them on the right things to do. By planning trips and having some large responsibilities those experiences can transfer to planning their college class schedule and other activities of their day to day life.
Unfortunately the Freshmen 15 does seem to occur. We have campers that loved how it felt to be up and walking and really challenging themselves to walk up different peaks or to push the extra mile. If a teenager is already actively working out that will help when college starts to keep with a routine. Or maybe instead of going to crazy college spring break they go on a backpacking trip to a place such as Lost Creek Wilderness in Colorado.
7. Campfires, Memories and Ghost Stories
Some of the best memories to be had from backpacking are after a long day of hiking. You just had a great experience with new friends and as you sit around the camp fire and relax, you get to chat with people and get to know them better in a beautiful setting. These are experiences that people will remember for the rest of their lives. And when things are tough and college starts to wear down on your teen sometimes these memories can create a smile and remind them that life has its up’s and down’s and that they can relax a little and push through.
8. Character Building
There is nothing like seeing a true personality coming out when backpacking. They might be tired, have blisters, or be craving some pizza. They might have had a hard day with the last five miles of hiking or they may feel better than they ever have in their life when the climbed to the top of a peak in the Winds, Wyoming. Backpacking trips will bring out sides of yourself that you didn’t know you had and usually for the better. We often see campers encouraging others and helping their friends or chipping in to make dinner and help put up tents. College can be tough when you don’t have family around so trips like these can show the importance of friends and helping others.
9. Facebook and Instagram
In the end of any backpacking trip (especially with OWA) your teenager will have some cool pictures to post to their friends and family showing the cool things they did that summer. Check out our Facebook page at for some great pictures and information of previous backpackers who had a great time and had a life changing experience.
Backpacking is amazing with family but sending your teenager on a backpacking trips with friends and a guide is a great learning experience and feeling of independence. Outpost Wilderness Adventure has adventure summer camps that are not traditional large scale summer camps and we also create packages for teens to go on private group backpacking, climbing and mountain biking trips. For more information check it out here. We also work with Baylor University who brings Freshmen to our lodge for their orientation where they go on a backpacking trip. The universities are seeing the benefits of getting these students outside. There are many benefits to enrolling your teen in these life changing opportunities and you would be doing them a tremendous favor by helping to prepare them for the next phase of their life. At the very least you will give them something to remember for the rest of their lives.
Good luck to your child going off to college. We hope they have a wonderful experience.