By Michael Lanza

“That sounds totally boring.” “Other parents don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to do.” “I hate (fill in the activity).” If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard these responses from your child, or any of an infinite number of variations on them—like a personal favorite that one of my kids, at 14, laid on me: “You get to choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.” If you’re trying to persuade a teen to get outdoors with you—which often entails pulling him or her away from an electronic screen—your child can summon powers of resistance that conjure mental images of Superman stopping a high-speed train.

My kids, now 20 and 18, have taken far more backpacking trips and other outdoor adventures than they can remember, paddled whitewater rivers and waters from Alaska’s Glacier Bay to Florida’s Everglades and Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and skied and rock climbed since they were preschoolers—and they are still eager to take trips with my wife and me. Although we no longer encounter blowback to our plans to do something outdoors together, that certainly persisted well into their teen years. But as teens, our kids usually looked forward to most of our adventures. This story shares the reasons why.

Following up on my popular “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids,” mostly intended for parents of younger children, the tips below summarize what I’ve learned from many outdoors adventures with increasingly independent young people—who happen to share my genetic makeup.

Click on any photo to read about that trip. Please share your thoughts on my advice or your own tips in the comments section at the bottom of this story. I try to respond to all comments.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A teenage boy backpacking in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains.
” data-image-caption=”My son, Nate, at 15, on a father-son backpacking trip in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains.
” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Cloud3-010-Nate-backpacking-Patterson-Peak-White-Cloud-Mountains-Idaho.-2.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Cloud3-010-Nate-backpacking-Patterson-Peak-White-Cloud-Mountains-Idaho.-2.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”600″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Cloud3-010-Nate-backpacking-Patterson-Peak-White-Cloud-Mountains-Idaho.-2.jpg?resize=900%2C600&ssl=1″ alt=”A teenage boy backpacking in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains.” class=”wp-image-47366″ srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Cloud3-010-Nate-backpacking-Patterson-Peak-White-Cloud-Mountains-Idaho.-2.jpg?resize=1024%2C683&ssl=1 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Cloud3-010-Nate-backpacking-Patterson-Peak-White-Cloud-Mountains-Idaho.-2.jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Cloud3-010-Nate-backpacking-Patterson-Peak-White-Cloud-Mountains-Idaho.-2.jpg?resize=768%2C512&ssl=1 768w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside
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