Am I a bad dad?


Active Member
Jul 3, 2008
Our little one is only two so he gets super excited about camping. I don't even want to think about those teenager years yet. When I used to camp with my parents as a teen I would ride my bike all over the place and keep myself occupied "hunting", I'll just leave it at that.


May 23, 2008
SE Wisconsin
Bad Dad, I don’t think so!

Enjoying time with the wife alone is just fine, after all the first relationship was between you two!

From one veteran to another, thank you. Your sacrifice to serve our country cannot be replaced, and in that lays the issue.
A sacrifice means something was given and something was taken. You freely gave of the relationship you had with your family to serve us, but they had their relationship with you taken away.
The hardest thing to do is to restore a heart relationship, fortunately your kids are young and though most of their developing years for whom they will be is mostly over, they still can be influenced. Just remember two things; one - it’s all about the heart, the heart will tell you who they are on the inside and two – regardless of what people say, research still proves that parents are still the biggest influence on their kids lives.

Show them you love them, your there for them and take them camping when you can, take mom when you can, that’s always fun too.

Take your time and find their heart.


Working on "Camp Burton"...Opening Soon!
Jun 23, 2009
Whitesburg, GA
Well we got a late start on our camping....our three kids were DD 20, DS 17 and DS 16 when we purchased our camper and all had already hit the "I KNOW EVERYTHING STAGE". Our DD was the only semi sane one...the older DS was always in trouble at school and the younger DS was nothing but cars and girls. So me and the DW purchased the PUP for us to reconnect and spent 2 weekends a month camping up till Thanksgiving and plan on continuing the same schedule this year. We went camping last weekend for the first time this year. We plan on going as a family but the kids just want nothing to do with it.


Death Smiles At Everyone -- Marines Smile Back"
Oct 20, 2009
Broadway VA
If I'm a bad anything it's a bad grandad. I won't let the DGK's have any elec items til after dark. After dark they can have their DVD players to watch a movie til bed time. The first couple of times it went south in a heart beat. But now it works fine, They find enough things to keep busy, They are 11, and a great help around the camp. As for my son, he starting to camp on his own, with DGF, We have a blast with family camps it gets crowded but it works out.


Active Member
Mar 12, 2010
You may be surprised at how the kids react. Now, I'm not a parent, but my sister went camping with us last year and brought along my 21 year old nephew, who sometimes emotionally seems much younger. I hate to say it but he's still stuck in the gaming phase of employment (at the time, anyway), no school, etc...just fixated on electronics, cell phones, and sitting on the couch. So, I was expecting a very unhappy nephew out in the woods. Much to my surprise, he had a great time and really enjoyed himself. We did figure out a way to get power to his laptop for a boxing match he wanted to watch (we were tent camping at the time), but aside from that he didn't worry about anything electronic, and he really loved the experience. I had a great time getting to know him a little better.

Good luck, maybe your kids will have the time of their lives!


Active Member
Feb 17, 2007
Rhode Island
Thanks for your service.

I'm a father of 4 (10, 8, 6, 4) and a surrogate father of now 22 year old nephew (we took custody of him when he was 11). Here's my [2C]:

1) Have a heart to heart before camping season starts. Let them know how important camping with them is to you and how you would like them to at least respect that and play along.

2) If they are willing to do that, you will be willing to take that into consideration and allow them some type of reward (not camping related, everyday life related - extended curfew/bedtime for 2 weeks, new video game purchase, etc, all on a per trip basis) This way you are tapping in their natural sense of give and take; you (meaning them) can get what you want but you have to sacrifice for it type of thing. Successful negotiations = successful relationships.

3) Divide the days into parts that everyone gets to enjoy/endure (depending on each person's perspective). For instance, in the am we are going for a family hike, upon return everyone has 1.5 hours free time to do what they like (have at it kids with your electronics), lunch together, early afternoon we all go fishing/or other group outing, upon return 1.5 hours free time, dinner together, go do your 14 year old stuff until 10pm at which time all electronics are off and you are either sitting with us at the fire or in bed. Something like this type of schedule sets clear expectations for everyone.

4) Pick your fights. You want it a certain way, they want it another way. Be the adult and work to find the middle ground.

We found if we let our nephew have control over certain aspects of his life we were all better off for it.

Good luck!


Active Member
Apr 6, 2009
Nashville, TN
No, you are not a bad dad...

We're a family with two 40 something parents a 14 year old DS and a 10 year old DS. I firmly believe the kid's push back on activities is test and make sure we still care. So I make sure to keep pushing to do the activity. My 14 year old DS still gives the 'I'm to old for this look' at board games - but within a few minutes is laughing so hard his stomach hurts. We've had to change the games up a bit to something more age appropriate, but both of the kids have a good time.

Interesting though - this last year the DS gave me the look on our first campout... now his eyes light up and he's extremely helpful whenever we talk about going out - he's in an academically demanding school and enjoys getting out where he doesn't have to be in that role. He's a different kid when we are camping - much more laid back and personable.

Keep it up - you have to be the one keeping the relationship open with the kids - they won't do it on their own.

Good luck



What A Looong Strange Trip It's Been
May 25, 2008
Hudson Valley, New York
My cousin, a TT camper who started as a Pupper, is going through the same thing right now and might not even camp this season. Not to sound negative, still remaining optimistic.


Active Member
Mar 31, 2008
Of course you're not a bad dad. My first clue was, you were asking. If you were a bad dad, you wouldn't be thinking/caring about it at all.

Just got back from a camping trip with my bff, her 16 yo son and my dd 11.

My friend and her son brought a travel version of Scattegories. We all had a blast, and it's going on my camper's Christmas list (would just buy it if it weren't for paying taxes this month) That dd loved it didn't surprise me that much, but that the 16 yo liked it did. He's not a person I would peg for it at all. Not into board games, not into reading at all. We were flexible with the rules, and didn't score.

Another game I've gotten is a travel version of Chinese Checkers. Dd loves this.

I wouldn't push them, but my guess is that if you and your wife start playing and having a good time, they'll join in. Dd is already admitting that she wants to do things she says she doesn't. (Like bike riding.) And that camping trips with just mom are fun.



Camping is a lifestlye and a hobby.
Mar 19, 2010
What a difference a camping trip can make for any parent and child! After our first trip and DD sulked and got a chance to use her multi tool [A] she is now carving her way to happiness when camping! [:D]. She discovered that she can do many things with a multi toll and when she gets tired of doing that NOW she wants to play card games and football! So it does work out and we take her friends along so they can have just as much fun as we do! (BTW- DD and DS try to make it a challenge when they carve out wood to see who can do the best design! [CP]. There is so much good advice on here!


Active Member
Sep 24, 2008
We found if we let our nephew have control over certain aspects of his life we were all better off for it.

Our 10 year old DS gets quite a bit of control over his life, especially when school is out. It really is amazing how quickly they learn from their own decisions compared to how many times we have to keep telling them the same lesson.

The 7 year old DS is learning and trying to compete with his brother. It's fun to watch them do competitions and the older boy is even starting to help his brother out some.

We let them do the wood carving stuff too, mostly they make spears for roasting stuff over the fire. The often compete to see who can make the best, but it's fun to watch our 10 year old try to help his brother learn how to select sticks or carve things then compete with him on making a better roasting stick or getting it done first.


Super Active Member
Jul 8, 2008
East Central Illinois
Many times we all learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.

IMHO, like most everything in life, parenting is best done in moderation. If you are overprotective and too strict kids don't learn how to make decisions and live with the consequences. If you go too much the other way they don't learn discipline.

As far as I am concerned you have to let kids "skin their knees" once in a while so the learn to avoid "breaking a leg" later on. (If you get the analogy.)


Active Member
May 20, 2010
Dad of twin 7 year olds here, and I took them on their first camping trip last weekend. 1 word to describe the experience was WORK! haha... I spent the entire trip making them food, cleaning up after them, helping them up trees, taking them on hikes, digging holes for them to poop in, washing them, changing their clothes, and getting them to go to sleep (That was a job in itself! haha)...

I feel your pain. I am really looking forward to a romantic weekend away with the wife, and no kids for our next camping trip! I didn't feel right until I slept for about 10 hours a night for 3 days in a row after that trip! ROFL...

Don't think you are a bad Dad at all. I think it's important for parents to have alone time once and awhile. It can't always be about caring for and entertaining the kids, otherwise you will end up completely drained and resentful of them. When you have some time away, you are refreshed and more able to be a good Dad when you see them again!


- Hakrjak


May 6, 2009
North Augusta SC
Even though I'm a Mom, I totally get where you're coming from. I have four boys (ages 7, 9, 14, and 17). While the older ones loved to camp when they were younger, they are definitely NOT into it anymore. Especially the 17-yr old, I think he'd rather do anything than be seen with his parents! And what's so crazy is we have a boat and camp at the lake--you'd think they'd wanna go kneeboarding, skiing, etc. But they'd rather be with their friends right now. They only wanna come if friends can come too. And having 6 boys at the campsite is a little much sometimes! Seems like all we do is cook, and all they do is eat [;)]

On the other hand, my younger ones LOVE camping. I feel like it's a constant battle trying to keep the older ones happy while not depriving the younger ones of the camping experience. Add to that my mom's continual lecture that "the older ones are gonna be gone soon, so you need to spend time with them". I find that when we stay at home, they're too busy on their laptops and XBOX to even pay attention to us! So we just arrange for them to stay at a friend's house and then we head out. The lake is only 30 min from our house and we have cell service, so we're close if they need something. May sound mean, but it makes for a much more peaceful camping trip--plus when they do shock us and decide to go with us, they're much happier!

Ahhhhh,'s definitely not for the faint of heart!


May 30, 2010
What a great thread, I am the father of 3 wonderful girls( 11, 9, 6 ). We have camped with them since they were very little, the 9 yr old was less than 2 mos, and as of now they would rather go camping than to do anything else. We spent this past weekend tent camping near Pioche NV, and fishing at a kids derby where the girls all got new poles and a little tackle box to call their own. I am from a large family, and we did a lot of camping "cheap vacation" for family reunions and just to get out of the Vegas heat. As a family we still get together for 2 large reunions each year, one with over 300 attendees and the kids enjoy the outdoors and freedom of being able to wander about without the restrictions of the city.
One of the rules my wife and I have with our kids is that electronic devices are for travelling only, and not what they will be doing while we are out. Some of my siblings do not have these rules, and their kids are always whiny and miserable especially when the batteries die. Another suggestion is to get out of cell phone range.
Good luck and happy camping.


Boldly going camping!
Mar 10, 2010
Things are a little different with us. We just completed the adoption this year, so our 14 year old DS still enjoys doing things with us. He had a terrific time first camping trip. Since we like to daytrip as well as camp and see interesting and fun things he still likes to do that too. Sometimes we bring his friends along too. He's smart and into history and the outdoors, like we are, so we have little trouble finding fun things to do together.

Also, we've stuck to our guns on the cell phone issue - he doesn't have one. We figure, he doesn't need one at school (they're not allowed) and at home he can call people from our land line. He grumbles a little, but he's also a little different than most kids nowadays - he doesn't "get" the whole texting thing, for example and complained this week when people signed his 8th grade yearbook with texting abbreviation (like "HAGS" - have a great summer). On odd occasions when he needs to reach us at his friends house he'll use their phone, like their kids are welcome to use our phone. Given he didn't have a permanent home until a couple of years ago when he moved in with us, he doesn't sweat the small stuff like cell phones. He does prefer to listen to his mp3 player in the car nowadays, which we don't mind. I'm hoping to reward him with a phone for birthday 2011 once he shows he's past the stage where things are destroyed or lost a week after he gets them (he's done well with the mp3 player so far).

He also doesn't have a Nintendo DS or laptop or other portable game system, and he hasn't asked for one.

He brings his mp3 player on the camping trips. We don't mind that. He gets to choose music from his mp3 player on trips to play in the car.

So far, the summer has been a lot of fun for all of us. [:D]


sure - that's fine
Sep 7, 2003
Southern Ontario, Canada
So, I'll just pipe in with my own opinion.... I have a 7yo, so in some ways, I have not hit the tough years. Here are the rules that I live by.

1. Motivation is the key. If kids are not motivated, they will not perform. In my world, that means that if the movie player, DS and MP3 player don't go camping, neither do we. Everyone will be miserable, so what would be the point.
2. Moderation is the other key. As much as my son can have all these things, he only gets so much of it. I try to make it reasonable, but at some point the electronics go off. That applies at home as well as camping and any other place. My son will not be one of those kids; head down in the DS ignoring the world
3. Join in his/her stuff... don't just expect them to do the things that you want. If you join in his activities, he might join in yours. I am 51 years old and do play LEGO, play Wii and all that other stuff.
4. Learn to 'hang out'
5. I have learned that the world does not have to be on my terms only. My son gets to make some of the rules.

All of the above rules apply all the time, not just camping.


Mar 14, 2010
It sounds to me like you want to spend time with your boys but only if they want to do and like the things you do while camping. The way I see it is like this

the younger one you said wants to always talk about you being in hte army, well Im assuming you dont really want to talk about it. Have you tried sitting down with him and telling him that although you served your country, some of the things you experienced are things you dont want to talk about. explain that maybe one day you will but not right now. Try asking HIM about the things he likes. Does he have a hobby, or maybe a sport he likes, talk about fishing, just try to keep the conversation going in a direction not including the time you served.

As for your oldest. Talk to him as well tell him that you want to spend quality time and that you understand his wanting to either take a friend or some kind of electronic device, maybe you can agree to let him have one or the other. either a friend or an electronic device. but in either way there will be things you all do together during the trip and you can allow time for individual exploration as you and your wife sit and relax with the dogs at your feet.

Then again maybe you can plan some trips with the boys and some with just you and your wife.


Active Member
Mar 29, 2010
If you log more than 10 hours a week spending time with your kids (talking, working together on a project, or "playing,") you are a great dad.

The average is about 1.5 hours per week.