Reading to Kids about Bears on a Camping Trip | Good Idea or Great Idea?

Maybe you’ve seen the image or read the tweet:
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Except for bears, bears will kill you.”

Bears hold an important part of our imagination, especially on camping trips. It’s just turned autumn. Autumn is a beautiful time of year.
Among the pleasantries of autumn are annual grade school class camping trips. I participated as a chaperoning parent in our children’s class camping trip – all memorable in one way or another – but one particularly memorable as to my choice of a campfire book.

My oldest son’s 4th-grade camping jamboree had all the makings of a great trip – great campground near a river, a Gold Rush town nearby, walks in the woods full of history and the warmth of a large campfire.

Everything was going great – an excellent hamburger dinner, Gold Rush style music, and camping under the stars – 0h – actually camping in a canvas tent. It was lights out. Everyone left to their respective tents.
Fathers were in one group of tents with the boys, and mothers were in another group of tents with the girls.

My tent was well placed in the campground, and it was my job to oversee five boys. I’d planned well for the trip – warm clothes, hiking boots and a book that I knew the kids would love – Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance.

I knew that my storytelling aided by the book would add to the wonder of the wilderness. Once we were safe, all zipped up in our tents.
I turned on my flashlight and asked the boys, not quite sleepy yet, if they would like for me to read them a story.
The answer was a resounding yes; Oh, what dreams they must have enjoyed that night! Research shows that reading aloud enhances classroom instruction and improves academic achievement.
I can’t say I was aware of that the investigation, but I figured that evoking the presence of bears on a campground full of fourth-graders was just what the doctor ordered.

Not long into a chapter of Bear Attacks, one of our young campers announced he wasn’t feeling too good and made a lightning-fast exit for his mother’s tent next door.

Momentarily pausing the story, I considered the possibility that the magic of reading aloud to children about killer bears might occasionally have a downside.
No other parent chaperone, however, could bring the wonders of the wild to life quite as I could.
The next morning I learned that Cory’s mother and some other chaperone mothers did not approve of my campground reading selection.
Upon a two-or-three second reflection, I thought she made a fine point.
For all remaining Fourth Grade Camping Trips, Bear Attacks stayed at home. Stalked by a Mountain Lion, I learned, proved much more kid-friendly.

I hope these give you some great ideas for your next camping trip.

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