Why I Taught My Kids to Poop In the Woods

Today we welcome John to the blog as we finish out this week celebrating dads.  I first “discovered” his writing over at on the Tubbs Snowshoes site and have loved his stories and push for family adventure.  Please welcome John (and, as always, feel free to leave him some feedback in the comments!)  More about him (and where to find him) at the end of the post…


image-1My parents always joked that they wanted me to do well in school and get a good job so I could support them in their old age. Whether that’s in the cards or not remains to be seen, but their thoughts on investing in the future by investing in their kids has certainly stuck with me.
I don’t expect my kids to support my golden years, but I do expect them to understand the value of nature. And if that means I get to hike and camp with them when they can go farther and faster than I can, so much the better.
My kids all started “hiking” when they were under two weeks in age. Over the last 10 years they’ve gotten stronger and learned to love nature in much the same way I do. Aside from make sure they know they are loved and providing for their basic needs, this is my greatest accomplishment.
My investment strategy was simple: Easy hikes, fun destinations, the ability to stop and smell the flowers/splash in the puddle/poke the dirt, and at least one night on a backpacking trip each year.
When each of my three children was three we spent a night in the tent in the backyard. We’d done plenty of car-camping before, but always with Mom or the other kids nearby. This was just Dad and Kid time.
The next year, we headed out on a one-night backpacking trip with a friend and their dad. The distances of these first trips were small. Each was under three miles a day, minimal elevation gain, and ended at a lake or a stream where we could play until it was time for dinner. The kids carried almost nothing in their backpacks and the only requirement was that we got somewhere level enough for our tents.
Since those initial easy trips we’ve had some amazing overnights on the trail. I’ve seen my two daughters (nine and seven at the time) holding hands while gazing at Mt. Rainier above Summerland and my son (five) crush out a 1,200 foot climb without complaining a bit. I even snow-camped with my oldest this year.
Most importantly, the kids love these trips as much as I do.
We have our permits all set up for this year (two nights for the girls in Berkeley Park and one night for the boy at Snow Lake, all in Mt. Rainier National Park) so now it’s just down to the weather. Hopefully, we won’t have to revert to backup destinations on the dry side of our state, but no matter what we do I’m sure it’ll be time well spent.

I’m a father, a husband, an adventurer, and a hacker. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and I never consider leaving, even when it rains for 100 days straight. I dream of days when I can turn off my computer and explore our amazing world with my family.

You can find us where the road heads up into the mountains, tucked against the river, at the end of a dirt road. I write at moosefish.comtubbssnowshoes.com, and wta.org. I’m also on twitter as @moosefish.

2 thoughts on “Why I Taught My Kids to Poop In the Woods”

  1. What an awesome post to kick off Father’s Day weekend! And I love the headline! We have two daughters, 1 & almost 4, and they’ve both been running & hiking since before they were born. We can’t wait to take them on their first backpacking trips. Happy Father’s Day!

  2. Hey, John, it’s great to see you on here! I love seeing other parents getting out with their kids. I like your gentle approach that you recommend. Taking time to play is really important, as is getting that one-on-one time with Dad.

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