Confessions of a First Time Cathole Digger

October 11, 2020 Comments (0) Blog Posts

BIG Adventures, with little feet

During pregnancy, one thing we knew for certain was that we were having an ‘adventure baby’, whether he liked it or not.

As parents, we were not intimidated by the idea of taking a baby into the hills, only pondering at what age, and what kind of adventures were appropriate? Turns out a good place to start is 9 days old, and celebrating your Dad’s birthday by going on your first tramp.

Since then we’ve progressed to overnight and multi-day trips. Huts and tents, canoes and tramping boots. We’ve gone from exclusive breastfeeding and sharing a sleeping bag with Mum (Yay minimal to carry!) to solids and tailored sleeping systems. Our son Kāhu has got heavier (a whopping 9.5kg and counting) and Dad’s pack now carries 3 sets of everything.

The GOOD news is: the world of babies and kids is overwhelmed by inventive devices and ‘must haves’ to make your experience camping with children ‘easier’.

The BAD news is: the world of babies and kids is overwhelmed by inventive devices and ‘must haves’ to make your experience camping with children ‘easier’.

Disposable everything! Nappies, plastic bags to wrap used nappies, change mats, baby wipes, breast pads, single use collapsible baby bottles (from the website- ”Suddenly a day out doesn’t seem so daunting!”), disposable bibs, every kind of individually packaged food item you can imagine… the list goes on and on. And it pains me to admit I’ve used some of them, not all of them, but certainly a few.

Here are some ACTUAL QUOTES taken from a website (that shall remain unnamed) on tips for camping with babies… which even uses the phrase “LNT camping”!

“Choose a campsite with amenities like maintained bathrooms so you can easily throw out dirty diapers”

“To dispose of the soiled items, put the diaper and wipes in a sandwich bag, and stuff that into a bigger Ziplock”

“A good middle-of-the-road option is to get reusable covers with compostable liners; wash and hang-dry the covers and bury the liners.”

Yes, these tips might make it ‘easier’ to adventure with a baby… but at what environmental cost? (For the record if not already obvious, never, NEVER bury any kind of nappy liner in the ground!)

The common environmental dichotomy is, environment vs. ease of use. When it comes to travelling and camping you are forced to also consider environment vs item weight.

But it’s more than just packing out all this waste to be deposited into the rubbish bin back home. For most parents, these decisions are not specific to camping. These choices have an enormous environmental impact from the very moment your little one arrives and their lower half is quickly wrapped up to catch the mess.

Arguably, the most impactful environmental choice is how you approach raising a child, especially in those early years.

So, why bother focussing on LNT in such limited times when heading into the wilderness? Here are some key reasons for consideration:

  • There are few places where a single person can have a bigger-than-normal impact on the environment. Choices made in urbanised areas just don’t play out the same as those choices made in the wilderness.
  • What we do and how we choose to act ‘out there’ in those wild places… sets the tone for what we do in our everyday lives.
  • Teaching and role-modelling Leave No Trace principles with children helps instil lifelong, generational respect for nature. Embrace these lessons every chance you get!
  • The essence of Leave No Trace is actively choosing a harder (heavier, longer, more difficult) choice that is for the greater good of the environment. Effectively making it less about ‘you’ and more about the environment around you.

In summary, there is a never ending tide of baby stuff out there. Some of it is ridiculous, some of it is useful, none of it is environmental. You have to figure out what the balance is for you, both in the back-country, and in your everyday life.

For me, it comes down to this: I practice Leave No Trace so future generations can enjoy these wild places too. The purpose of Leave No Trace is to keep the wilderness wild. Wild enough that when my son is perhaps a parent himself, he can enjoy the same experience with his kids.

– Cassandra Colman

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