$10 Dollar Tree Camping Challenge

Lately my teen son Riley has been talking about camping and wilderness “survival.” I listen intently and try to mold his thinking towards a family-friendly summer outing. I think, “camping could be fun, I went camping with my family when we were kids. I can do this.”

But he ups the ante in a very modern way. “Mom, I found this survival kit subscription on-line and for just $40 a month (US funds) I can get a surprise box of survival tools.”

As you might imagine, I retorted pretty sarcastically and with a big NO. It went something like this…. “give me 40 bucks, even Canadian funds and I’ll go get you a mystery box of survival crap from the dollar store. And I can do this every month until you beg me to stop.”

He laughed.

I said, “I’m serious.”

I think all he really heard was “go to dollar store, buy crap.”

“Let’s go now,” he says. “Let’s do this!

Since I’m quite willing to put my money where my mouth is, I offered up $10 for each of us. I insisted he use his math skills to solve the next step and tell us how much we could buy.

“Seven things!” he says. “We can each buy 7 things at Dollar Tree.”

True. At Dollar Tree, all items are $1.25, plus applicable taxes would get us to $9.90. So we each took $10. Literally, $10. No debit cards or any extra cash. This was a survival challenge after all. LOL

He suggested we meet at the register in 10 minutes. It was now a bit of a race too! On our way, we did agree that 3 things would already be included in our challenge…. tent, food & matches so no need to try to buy those.

The results….

Riley’s choices

He bought fishing lures, fishing line and weights. Plus twine, a pocket knife, cotton balls and birthday candles. He explained that he’d use a knife to harvest a stick to make a fishing rod. The cotton balls are to use with matches to start fires and the birthday candles were to keep the fire going and to transfer flames to multiple fire sites. I couldn’t help but laugh at the birthday candles. I suggested they would also be great if a spontaneous birthday celebration broke out at the campsite. We could even celebrate some stranger’s 50th and still have spare candles. His regret, after thinking it all through… was wasting so much on fishing gear, after all we did say food was included.

Cathie’s choices

I bought a tin foil cooking pan and a long handled bbq fork. I also chose a tarp, a first aid kit, a little hacksaw and a tropical scented jar candle (What I really wanted was bug repellant or a citronella candle but I couldn’t find anything and was running out of time so I grabbed this one.) My last choice, or my luxury item as I call it, was either going to be a bubble blower toy or a deck of cards. I went with the bubbles to be a bit of a rebel, plus it was in a Star Wars package. Hours of campfire enjoyment I thought. Riley agreed the tarp was a good choice, very versatile. He laughed at my Dollar Tree hacksaw and suggested the first aid kit was well paired with it. I tend to agree. Regrets? I have none. I stand by my Star Wars bubble blower and thin blue tarp.

It was a fun experiment. The best part was the show and tell session when we got home with our loot. We laughed a lot!

As you can imagine, Riley is planning the next step. He wants the Dollar Tree hacksaw to see some use. He’s currently in the other room searching out campsites on-line. So, I guess this chapter and this little adventure, is to be continued!

Teens and travel: Posting from Revelstoke BC

I love to travel with my kids and take every chance I get.  You see, I feel like there’s a pending expiration date. I really feel like our time together is limited. Right now my son is 14, but I know it won’t be long before he’s 18 and an adult and travels exclusively with his friends, or (gasp) a girlfriend. So, I’m honestly making a conscious effort to spend time with him now.

This takes me out of my comfort zone. A lot. It’s a constant challenge to plan and search out things that would appeal to him and his teen sense of adventure. I know it’s a time in their lives where they push boundaries, but I can tell you, that as a parent, I feel like I’m the one constantly outside my comfort zone.

Like today. Where truthfully, I’d rather be sitting on a patio sipping a cocktail and reading, I found myself looking at bike rentals, white water rafting brochures and considering ziplines. Yikes.

I’m not telling you that I’m going to do all these things. And I have no interest in being the coolest mom on the planet. BUT, I do want to show my son how to travel and explore.

Here are 3 ways in which I achieve my goals without having to do it all.

  1. Enlist help. Do you have a cool uncle, a friend or somebody in your life who regularly does the activity you’re considering?  Have your teen hang with them for the day. This makes you the awesome mom who can hook them up. This gives your teen a taste of independence and another adult role model.
  2. Let your teen take the lead. Let them find, research and pay for the activity. When it’s their own money, they tend to consider their choices more carefully. It shows them that you can’t do EVERYTHING you see in a brochure.
  3. Look for hotels with added value or partnerships. Does your hotel offer a stay and play package? Ask at the front desk or concierge. The more you ask, the more you learn. You’d be surprised how many tour companies actually pick up at the hotel and offer door to door experiences. There’s so much more than “kids’ club” available. For example, we were staying at the Westin Kierland in Arizona and while a round of golf was well over $200, they offered golf lessons for kids and teens at $25. Or when we stayed in Revelstoke BC, the cabins didn’t have a pool. but they offered FREE passes to the city’s Aquatic Centre.
    The best advice I can give, is to admit to your teen that you don’t know everything and that you haven’t been everywhere. When you learn and travel and explore together you do more than just vacation, you make memories and you make them stronger and more capable in doing so.