My wife and I have been married for 45 years. Roughly a year after our marriage a few buddies and I planned a camping, fishing, and bear hunting trip. This was to occur just before school started so I really looked forward to time in the outdoors before classroom activities required most of my attention.

After we had everything organized, I enthusiastically announced our plans to my new wife. Her response was not what I expected. She gave me an icy cold stare followed by the comment “what about our anniversary?” Perhaps more importantly, she wasn’t referring to any anniversary, but our first wedding anniversary.

I immediately reconsidered that outing, made my apologies to the guys, and from that point on tried to include my wife in all of my outdoor planning. That was fine as far as it went, but she also liked the outdoors so I soon began including her in many outdoor activities. Over the years I’ve tried to expand this strategy to involve children, grandchildren, and siblings. Many of my friends do the same. When I was growing up, most outdoor activities seemed only to involve a group of “guys.” Some still stick with this approach although it’s difficult to understand why.

Including family doesn’t mean eliminating trips with your hunting and fishing buddies. There are clearly some opportunities appropriate for family and others that are not, or at least not for the entire family.

For instance, my wife isn’t interested in a 10-day bird hunting trip to Montana or a backcountry hunt for elk. However, she enjoys camping, fishing, hiking, and picnicking, especially if our grandkids are involved. Similarly, kids and grandkids can’t go on long outings even if they want to because of school and/or work commitments. So, it’s important to plan some activities that are more inclusive, allowing spouses, children, and grandchildren to participate.

Family outdoor adventures don’t have to be complicated, big-budget affairs. A simple fishing trip or day hike can be lots of fun and something most family members can participate in.

My wife and I began to include our girls when they were quite young. An early outing with our oldest daughter, Jenny, involved a hike to a high mountain lake with friends Tim and Erica Craig. Jenny was quite small so when it began to rain, we put her in Tim’s backpack and continued up the mountain. The next year found us backpacking in the Copper Basin. Jenny soon tired so I let her ride on my pack frame; shortly thereafter she began to think that backpacking was when Dad packed her up the mountain on his back.

Our early family outings have morphed over the years from simple day trips to multi-day camping, fishing, and hunting events. We purchased a camp trailer to provide security for younger children and a bit more comfort for the adults, especially during inclement weather.

Family outings are only limited by your imagination and, of course, your pocket book. They can include picnics, hikes, fishing, hunting, and visits to the local zoo. They can last from a few hours to several days and designed to accommodate a variety of interests and abilities.

For example, our fall bowhunting campouts allow my grandson, son-in-law, and me to enjoy bowhunting for elk and deer. My wife enjoys the beauty of the countryside and watching our granddaughters play around camp. My daughter looks forward to roasting marshmallows with the kids over our campfire.

Southeast Idaho offers tremendous outdoor opportunities with plenty of places to explore with your family. These trips are about making memories and those memories will be treasured and talked about by family members for years to come.

Jack Connelly has lived in Bingham County for the last 42 years. He is an avid outdoorsman and has hiked, camped, hunted, and fished over much of the U.S. as well as parts of Europe and Asia. Connelly worked as a biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for over 30 years. He now enjoys retirement with his wife Cheryl raising chickens and bird dogs at their home in Blackfoot.

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