Took my ten-year old son on his first long trip last week, an eight-day trek into the Domeland Wilderness in the Southern Sierra. (We had made several overnight trips to prepare.) Here are a few of my observations:
Kept him to a bit less than a quarter of his body weight (16 pounds including water -- he weighs 68 pounds), and he handled the load with no problem. In fact, he about walked my legs off. I think next time I'll let him carry more of the food.
On the subject of food, I packed waaay more than we needed. I'll pare down the food load next time. On the other hand, never had to hear those dreaded words: "Dad, I'm hungry."
He really likes his REI Comet pack. He found it comfortable and it fits him well. It's adjustable, so he'll be able to use it at least a couple more years. I butchered and re-built the pack, lessening the weight by almost a pound and a half (I'll try to post some pictures of my handiwork sometime when I have the chance).
I brought some light-weight games to pass the time (home made Risk board, Yahtzee dice and playing cards), and these came in handy. Not once did he complain of boredom. Did a lot of fishing as well to help pass the time.
Should have brought a star chart; in the clear air the Milky Way was clearly visible and he found the night time sky very intriguing.
Instant hot chocolate may be heavy, but for him it's indispensable. Instant pudding mixed with Oreo's is a great dessert. And pancakes are a bit of a hassle, but were a big hit at breakfast time.
I made him his own "essentials" kit, and he had fun learning to read a map and compass and learning how to clean his fish with his own knife. It made him feel like a grown-up to carry his own first aid stuff, even if we didn't need it. I also brought a length of rope, and he spent hours practicing different knots I taught him.
In all, it was a great trip, and at the end he gave me the best gift I could have hoped for: He said "Dad, I can't wait to do this again!"
My blog on politics, the environment and the outdoors: Haiwee.blogspot.com