My 15-year-old went camping on his own - and I'm fine with it

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

Would you send your 15-year-old away camping without adult supervision? That's just what I decided to do this week.

Was it the right thing to do? Only time will tell, but I figure now I have two choices: I can sit at home worrying about every little thing that could go wrong, or I can decide to be totally fine with it.

None of my feelings will dictate the outcome of the trip, so I've decided for the sake of my own health to go with the latter. And the pay-off is much greater than the risks, in my book.

I have to admit, I didn't go into this situation with my eyes fully open. My son had talked about this trip for a few weeks and I'd only been half-listening. Yes, I said, that sounds fun, while chopping vegetables for dinner, chasing his younger siblings at bath time, or typing away at my computer racing against a work deadline.

It sounded nice, in theory, but I thought I'd wait until I had more details before deciding how I felt about it.

Then the trip was suddenly upon us, and I realised that the group of eight people going on this trip – who my son knows from scouts – are all aged between 15 and 18 years old. No parents. No adult supervision. No scout leaders.

I thought about changing my mind and telling my son he's too young to go away without an adult. Fifteen is too young, isn't it?

But then I reconsidered. I know the kids going – not only are they good, responsible people, but they are all experienced campers and trained in first aid. And as an official scouts trip, it is regulated by scout rules.

What better opportunity will I get to give my son a taste of independence while still in a semi-controlled environment?


I've always tried to raise my kids more on the free-range end of the spectrum than the helicopter parent end. I feel like this opportunity is an extension of that approach, and that this is a great chance for him to learn some valuable life skills, and create some fun memories that will last a long time.

As children get older, so the leash needs to get longer so they can learn how to take care of themselves, make decisions, and respond when things don't go according to plan. And on a personal note, I hope my son learns to cook something edible that he  can reproduce at home.

So far, from our short text message conversations, I know that my son ate a chicken schnitzel for breakfast, which he found thrilling, and has read the two books he took with him three times each. And he's rediscovered his love for swimming in the ocean, something he hasn't done for several years.

So far, so good. He's got a few days to go, and anything could still happen, but I'd rather he was out adventuring than staying home and staring at a screen all day.

Sure, something could still go wrong, but I don't want to raise a child afraid of the world. I'd rather raise one that knows that there are adventures around every corner and, whatever happens, he will be okay. Because the world is a wonderful place that should be explored.