When the time is right for adventure, it pays to take baby steps, advises Michael Lanza, author of "Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest to Explore America's Most Endangered National Parks" (Beacon Press).
"Begin with short hikes and gradually work up to longer outings," says Lanza, who gathered personal experience as a field editor with Backpacker magazine. "Evaluate your child's readiness for something new based not just on its physical difficulty, but how well your child handled previous experiences that presented comparable stress."
Lanza's book chronicles his family's yearlong trip through our national parks. Their adventure included sea kayaking and wilderness camping in Glacier Bay, Alaska. He determined that his children were ready for such an outing because they had previously backpacked, rock-climbed, floated and camped on a wilderness river, and cross-country-skied through snowstorms.
"They had managed stressful situations well and understood the need to follow instructions and that trips have uncomfortable moments," said Lanza. "Despite how wet and raw it was, they loved Glacier Bay."