Can't get past fear of bears etc while with my children

Discussion in 'Boondocking' started by jcrew6311, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

    Feb 24, 2015
    Perhaps boondocking for me would be better left for when my kids are teenagers or it's just my wife and I. I don't know, I just can't shake the idea of being comfortable in any place other than actual rv parks for my children's safety. We have a 1 year old and 4 year old, and anytime I consider the idea of going out into the woods, I worry and stress deeply about the night time and their safety. The problem is the best sites are typically found out in the woods.

    I guess I'm asking on here to see if anyone else feels the same way? Any time I look at places online and see them remarking about bear safety in the area I just immediately scratch off that location for fear for my children. I know anything could happen anywhere but I feel I would be devastated if anything did ever happen, knowing I could have just paid a few bucks to stay a little closer in town. How do people sleep at night knowing there could easily be numerous predator animals right outside their door? I also don't feel comfortable carrying a gun yet with my children so that's off the table.
  2. NMroamer

    NMroamer Active Member

    Apr 21, 2016
    Albuquerque NM
    I have been camping in New Mexico for the last thirty years and have had at least five bear encounters while camping.
    All five resulted in the bear running away real quick. Carry bear spray and keep your kids close by and you should not have a problem.
    Camped in Alaska with two small boys and did not have a problem. Don't let the idea of a bear encounter keep you out of the woods, they will stay away if you do not leave food out for them.
    theseus and Carlsbad like this.
  3. sleach

    sleach A short run will get you within walking distance.

    May 17, 2014
    Boulder, Colorado
    I/we have been camping in some of Colorado's best bear habitat since 1964. "Camps" have ranged from roll up in the canvas tarp to trail tent to enclosed tent, and on up to a few nights in a hyper-luxurious fifth wheel. Currently camp in the Aframe about 75% at informal "boondocking" sites and 25% in USFS/NPS/BLM/Colo P&W sites.

    In all that time there has been only one bear encounter.

    Suggest you train your kids much the same as NRA advises for small children and firearms: "Don't touch! Leave the area! Tell and adult!"
    kitphantom likes this.
  4. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2014
    Never worried about it when my children were young and still don't worry about it now camping with my grandchildren.

    Do what you are comfortable with.
  5. Aladin Sane

    Aladin Sane I'd rather be camping

    Jul 3, 2008
    Since I have not been able to calm my wife's bear phobia,i will not attempt to resolve yours. All I can say is look at the number of negative bear encounters nationwide and consider your chances of it happening to you.
  6. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    My mom is one of those..."oh my gosh the bear could eat you" mind frame and I can't change that in her. However I camp alone or with my tiny dog and the only bears I've come accross were running away. Now I would carry a whistle while hiking and if in a very bear active area would carry bear spray. Most bears unless you are carrying food on you and flaunting it are more interested in getting away from you. I have no problem taking my little side kick hiking with me in the woods. Yes, I'm on a trail and not just walking out in the middle of nowhere in the woods. The kiddo knows to stay close and not wonder too far. Now I would probably be more fearful in late winter early spring when the bears first wake up from hibernation.
  7. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    You probably have a better chance of a tree or tree branch falling on you than getting hurt by a bear.
    Mausinn likes this.
  8. xvz12

    xvz12 Well-Known Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    New Plymouth, ID
    I've camped, both with family & with scouts all over both the Payette & Boise Nat'l forests, & out in the Owyhees for the last 30 years or so, have only ran into one bear that whole time, & he was more scared of us then we were of him. TBH, I'm more concerned about moose than I am bear. There's not many moose around here, but I have ran into several, & every one I've ran into was ready to take exception to my being there....we just quietly went the other way,
    unclemark likes this.
  9. wmadoty

    wmadoty New Member

    Oct 14, 2016
    I do not let fear run my life and I have taught my children the same. Know the risks, take precautions, and proceed with your intentions. I guess if you can't do that then the KOA's might be a better place for you and yours.

    Do keep in mind that wild bears with little exposure to humans are less likely to be around people. The bears that hang out at the KOA have gotten used to us, know we have something to eat, and have lost a lot of their instinctive fear.
    Redbird934 likes this.
  10. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2012
    Northwestern New Jersey
    Better watch you kids more closely at the mall.
  11. XKPin

    XKPin There's no situation so bad it can't be made worse

    Oct 28, 2016
    Gloucester, Virginia
    We always bring a friend we can all out run:eek:!
    --Honestly though, we can list all the horrible things that can go wrong in life and never avoid them all. I was so concerned about bear encounters when I camped with my grandkids that I took a concealed weapons class and got certified. Seems everyone I met who did the same voiced more concerns for the two legged threats in the backwoods (can you twang [Guitar] Dueling Banjos?) than bears.
    --Over the years I have mellowed though. I have camped frequently and bear threats were fleeting. Threats from snakes, yes, bears no. My biggest complaint (not my smartest wish :rolleyes: I admit) is that the bears would hang around long enough so that the whole family could get a glimpse.
    --I'm not sure where you camp, but you may gain more insight from those camping in your favorite locals. Also asking camp hosts and park rangers is recommended.
    ALSO: Don't cook, wash dishes or store food in your pup. Odors encourage 'investigation.'
  12. Adirondack PUP

    Adirondack PUP Active Member

    May 8, 2015
    Upstate New York
    When I started going into bear country 25+ years ago I was pretty paranoid. I'd read just enough scary bear stories to make myself extremely anxious and jittery while I was in the backcountry. Early on in my backpacking days I had a bear encounter that I'll never forget. It entered our camp and stared at us from 12' away. I went into panic mode. Yelling, banging pots, etc. All my fear just spilled out. The bear just stared at me for a few more seconds and then it slowly walked across our camp and into the woods. It was curious and probably looking for an easy meal. It was not interested at all in dealing with humans.

    Returning home I realized I had to change something. I loved being outside in the wilderness but my bear fear was taking all the fun out of it.

    I started to read and learn about bears and their behavior. I avoided the "horror" stories about bears and read the science based accounts. Turns out I began to really appreciate bears and my fear was replaced by knowledge.

    Over the years we've had close to a dozen black and brown bear encounters in places like Maine, New York, New Hampshire and Alaska. If I had let my fear dictate my experiences I would have missed out on some special adventures.

    I say all this to encourage you. Talking about your fear is a great starting point. Learning about bears and their unique traits and behaviors might be the next step in overcoming your worry. Worry is funny in that it usually creates a much larger shadow for an issue than it would naturally cast on its own.

    Best of luck!
    jmkay1 likes this.
  13. sgip2000

    sgip2000 Member

    Jun 16, 2010
    Hillsboro, OR
    Spend the night in a hotel in the bad part of town and you'll adapt quickly.
    NMroamer and bob barnes like this.
  14. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

    Feb 24, 2015
    The funny thing is is before even KNEW there were bears in our state back in college and he, I used to run through the woods over 90 miles a week with no fear and never once saw any bears. It's a totally different story now that I have kids. Statistically speaking I know my fear isnt really warranted, but I can't get over the what ifs. Perhaps our best bet for me is just camping in developed camp sites with other people near by for now at least.
  15. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2016
    King George, Virginia
    We have been around them all my camping life... This all started in the 50s for me... Tent camped alot in the AZ high country and Texas River country... I fear the Hogs in TX more than the bears haha...

    I use this photo alot saying my fresh ground and brewed Coffee is great coffee. I wake up to my friends waiting for their coffee fix... I'm told the bear shown here is real but the other two characters are props haha
    Google Image

    It really is just not quietly walking up on a Moma bear and her cubs... She will really get excited when you do this... Tent Camped and POPUP trailer camped around bears alot in the TN and NC high country... Just make a lot of noise hiking down the trails to let them know you are coming... Always carried one of those UDAP Bear spray belts that the rangers carry on them... Wasp Spray at the camp site is great to have on hand as well and something that makes alot of noise...

    The only death I am kinda personally aware of was this one lone camper picked up some BBQ in Gatlinburg one evening and took it with him where he was camping at ELKMONT same place we was Tent camping at... He apparently didn't clean up very good with his BBQ ribs when he was finished with them... He was found dead in his tent the next morning from a couple of Bears attack. He was camping pretty close to where we was camping along the creek side. The only other Bear Attack reports is usually a hiker walking up on a moma bear and her cubs in the TN mountain trails...

    Roy Ken
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
    bob barnes and XKPin like this.
  16. Adirondack PUP

    Adirondack PUP Active Member

    May 8, 2015
    Upstate New York
    Having kids will motivate people to re-evaluate the level of risk they're willing to take. It sure did for me but mostly in the areas of rock and ice climbing. As for camping around bears you do what you feel comfortable with. Don't feel bad if now isn't the right time to venture too far from the road and other people. It's all about having fun and making memories. If you're stressed it defeats the purpose.
  17. daschnoz

    daschnoz Active Member

    Feb 9, 2015

    I bring along a 12 gauge pump with 1oz slugs if we go far enough from civilization in bear country. Load the tube but keep the chamber empty. So far, no bears. We did have a raccoon that was the size of a beagle visit our camp site last year though - every night around 21.00.
    tzmartin and XKPin like this.
  18. Uncle Phill

    Uncle Phill New Member

    Jun 5, 2017
    Driving to the campsite is a greater risk to your family than bears. Seriously.
    Minimalist and unclemark like this.
  19. yetavon

    yetavon everything is better around a campfire.

    Mar 11, 2010
    Western NC
    That and...your kids are more likely to get snake bit than bear bit....
    Being bear cautious and observant is good, but don't be afraid and keep the great outdoors from your kids.
    Minimalist likes this.
  20. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

    Aug 8, 2015
    DFW, TX
    What part of the country are you in? Your kids are still very young - plenty of opportunities to do stuff still. I personally have zero interest in boondocking. I much prefer regular campgrounds with facilities. When my son was younger we did cub scouts and he had a blast - staying at state parks, roaming around the woods, etc. That was awesome enough. Now we are in boy scouts and our camping has gotten more adventurous. He did his first backpacking campout this spring and loved it. However - he really likes it when we take the pup together and go somewhere. Having AC in the heat of summer is really nice. Our trips consist of some hiking/biking along with exploring the local town - visiting historical sites, museums or just looking at the old town square. Every trip is different, and the experiences and memories are what we look for.

    Everyone is different, and not every camping activity would be a good fit for your kids. Take it easy and enjoy your time outdoors however you choose to spend it. Don't force yourself or them into something they are not ready for - that just breeds resentment in my experience.

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