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Doing Camino with Family

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Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances - May/June 2019)
Ok, I've been lurking on these forums for some time and couldn't find any posts on this... so hopefully, this isn't too redundant of a question.

I'm looking to do the Camino in May/June 2020 (likely start 5/24 and target finish by end of June) with my wife and two sons -- one will be almost 16 and the other will turn 14 on the Camino.

For those who have been, do you see families doing the Camino?

I assume it's most common to see individuals or couples or perhaps older family groups - as adults perhaps.

I guess I'm asking you who been on it - do you see any families with younger (teenage kids) and what are your thoughts in general on bringing two teens. I know they are nervous about being away from friends for a month, but I'm hoping that the life experience far outweighs those teenage concerns.

I'd love your thoughts/comments on taking my two teenage sons with us.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 (2019) CF
2013 Arles/Aragones
2015 & 2017 HærvejenDK
Yes, I have seen a few families with teenagers walking the Camino Frances and in a couple albergues when I was a hospitalera - everything seemed to be going well for each of the families. I think the key to a successful family-Camino is for the teens to feel positive about the walk, to spend time walking 10-15km in comfortable shoes or boots before departure, and being part of the planning process. Watch some YouTube videos together to get an idea of some of the terrain and towns you will experience. If you know someone in your area who has walked the Camino, it would be helpful to get together to ask questions and clarify information. The Camino Forum and videos were helpful in planning my first Camino, but I got the most relevant and practical information from face-to-face get-togethers with people who have walked it. You will have a wonderful experience!
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I suggest that you use the Search function (upper right on the screen) to search for posts by @Kiwi-family and @shefollowsshells . From there, you will probably get lots of leads to other threads.

Edit: They both have kept blogs as well. @Kiwi-family has hers listed under her signature, and @shefollowsshells is at shefollowsshells.blogspot.com ]

Here is another thread on doing the camino with children.
 
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Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
In my five caminos (one of which lasted ten weeks) I’ve seen quite a few couples with a child in a stroller, one mother with a young boy struggling on a bike, one Spanish mother with two elementary aged kids who we walked with for a couple of days. “We” were - depending on which trip you look at - anything from parents with octogenarian Grandpa and eight kids ranging from 6-18 years to just me and two, three or four of the youngest kids.
My very youngest commented on our last Camino when she was 12 that obviously she was no longer an attraction as people didn’t ply her with chocolate or say how amazing it was that she was doing her own washing or cooking any more! So your kids will likely be treated as adults - this is one of the gifts of the Camino I believe.
Between Sarria and Santiago is the only place we have encountered big groups of teens walking together as part of their school programme.
None of my kids took devices and I would encourage you to consider the same - one of the school groups we spent some time with took no devices, another allowed phones but limited their use to an hour before going to dinner. This is key for helping your kids be present and not concerned about what they are missing at home.
If you search “Camino with children” you’ll find lots of posts but I would really encourage you to think of your children as young adults in this venture!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances - May/June 2019)
Thanks to these replies... so far. I've done some serious backpacking with the 2 boys (they are half-mountain goat apparently) in the Wind Rivers, Wyoming (Soshone Indian Reservation). They were week-long, 50 mile (hard up/down elevations at high altitude 10K+ feet) and it went well. The boys (and I) suffered a little physically but we bonded tremendously and got away from electronics (other than my camera). It was what wanted me to take them on the Camino.

We are planning roughly 40 days for the Camino (if we go fast enough, we'll continue to Finisterre) or enjoy a couple break days.

@Kiwi-family, I will read your blog, I'm sure there will be great gems there.

I think we'll work on some 'rules' of the Camino, that will allow them to have some independence and deal with the fact that they are much faster than me (if they want to be) and I'm faster than my wife (if I want to be) - so, giving them some opportunities to go ahead.

@C clearly, I will check out those threads, thank you.

@marylynn, thanks for the positivity! As a dad, I'm very nervous. Not about the physical part, they are both good athletes, but I know *separating* them from the modern / daily teenage life will be hard... but I hope, worth it. I'm sure I'll get some "why are we doing this?" at rough moments - but I believe a lot in the Jungian view that we find treasure/answers in the last places we want to look, often found in hard experiences. I hope the trip gives them an antidote (of sorts) against some aspects of modern life.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
As a dad, I'm very nervous. Not about the physical part, they are both good athletes, but I know *separating* them from the modern / daily teenage life will be hard... but I hope, worth it. I'm sure I'll get some "why are we doing this?" at rough moments - but I believe a lot in the Jungian view that we find treasure/answers in the last places we want to look, often found in hard experiences. I hope the trip gives them an antidote (of sorts) against some aspects of modern life.
Welcome to the Forum, Adam. I agree with the suggestion to do a search on 'family' and 'children' using the search engine. It will bring up a lot of good information. :)

If your teens survived backpacking in the Wind River Range, then the Camino will be fine. In fact, they will be far closer to modern/daily teenage life on Camino than they were in the Wind River. After all, you will be walking town to town, not campsite to campsite :)
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
I’ve just asked my youngest three (13-16 years) for some advice

* keep a journal
* connect with other people you meet, talk with them
* enjoy the food!
* don’t worry about your friends- they’ll still be there when you get home

My youngest has a special piece of advice for the parent;-) It’s something I did spontaneously towards the end of a very long day to give them something to think about - I offered each of them 5 euros to buy the whole day’s food for themselves. No strings attached. They ended up joining forces into two groups of two and had a memorable time choosing their rations! We have done this a number of times now (even at home sometimes) - they have become wiser in their food choices but that first time is remembered with great fondness.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances - May/June 2019)
I’ve just asked my youngest three (13-16 years) for some advice

* keep a journal
* connect with other people you meet, talk with them
* enjoy the food!
* don’t worry about your friends- they’ll still be there when you get home

My youngest has a special piece of advice for the parent;-) It’s something I did spontaneously towards the end of a very long day to give them something to think about - I offered each of them 5 euros to buy the whole day’s food for themselves. No strings attached. They ended up joining forces into two groups of two and had a memorable time choosing their rations! We have done this a number of times now (even at home sometimes) - they have become wiser in their food choices but that first time is remembered with great fondness.
Great ideas - this is very helpful.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 (2019) CF
2013 Arles/Aragones
2015 & 2017 HærvejenDK
.@marylynn, thanks for the positivity! As a dad, I'm very nervous. Not about the physical part, they are both good athletes, but I know *separating* them from the modern / daily teenage life will be hard... but I hope, worth it. I'm sure I'll get some "why are we doing this?" at rough moments - but I believe a lot in the Jungian view that we find treasure/answers in the last places we want to look, often found in hard experiences. I hope the trip gives them an antidote (of sorts) against some aspects of modern life.
[/QUOTE]

It sounds like your boys are strong and hardy, and have had a good experience with hardcore backpacking. I just returned from a five day, 50km backpacking trip in the mountains in Quebec. The mosquitoes ate me alive, I got locked in an outhouse, a bear growled at me, it took 10 hours to walk 10.4km one day, the trail and elevation was rough enough that I had to keep my eyes on my feet to avoid tripping on rocks and roots, and I worried all five days about whether or not our water had been filtered and purified enough so that we didn’t get sick (no one did)...and all that time I had visions of the Camino Frances dancing in my head and feeling very thankful to be able to walk a trail that is so kind to pilgrims in terms of terrain, landscapes, history, albergues, locals, bars, and weather. It felt like the Camino Frances truly was a ‘walk in the park’ - relatively speaking. The Camino Frances’ terrain and elevation gives me time to look around and to feel ‘in’ the Camino without worrying about survival. I think your boys will appreciate the personal freedom that the Camino Frances provides and will enjoy being ‘in’ the Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Completed one 550 Miile and six partial caminos
Ok, I've been lurking on these forums for some time and couldn't find any posts on this... so hopefully, this isn't too redundant of a question.

I'm looking to do the Camino in May/June 2020 (likely start 5/24 and target finish by end of June) with my wife and two sons -- one will be almost 16 and the other will turn 14 on the Camino.

For those who have been, do you see families doing the Camino?

I assume it's most common to see individuals or couples or perhaps older family groups - as adults perhaps.

I guess I'm asking you who been on it - do you see any families with younger (teenage kids) and what are your thoughts in general on bringing two teens. I know they are nervous about being away from friends for a month, but I'm hoping that the life experience far outweighs those teenage concerns.

I'd love your thoughts/comments on taking my two teenage sons with us.
There is a young family who have walked the Camino at least four times complete with push chair for the youngest.
The Mam and Dad met whilst doing the walk.
So the answer is a big YES
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
We walked with our son the first time when he was 8, and then we walked again when he was 11,12,13 and so on. Last year, when he was 23, his backpack was bigger than mine, and he knows everything about walking caminos. It's simply a thing we DO as a family, at least once a year.

Let them have their phones, so they can run ahead to the next village instead of having to wait for you, and let them be in charge of ordering meals, getting stamps, checking for bedbugs, and as many things as possible. They will grow up while you're walking.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis SJPP April 2016,
August 2017, May 2018
Camino Portuguese
2019, May Porto, Sept Lisbo
Ok, I've been lurking on these forums for some time and couldn't find any posts on this... so hopefully, this isn't too redundant of a question.

I'm looking to do the Camino in May/June 2020 (likely start 5/24 and target finish by end of June) with my wife and two sons -- one will be almost 16 and the other will turn 14 on the Camino.

For those who have been, do you see families doing the Camino?

I assume it's most common to see individuals or couples or perhaps older family groups - as adults perhaps.

I guess I'm asking you who been on it - do you see any families with younger (teenage kids) and what are your thoughts in general on bringing two teens. I know they are nervous about being away from friends for a month, but I'm hoping that the life experience far outweighs those teenage concerns.

I'd love your thoughts/comments on taking my two teenage sons with us.
Great question..I think your kids will love it...my son asked me to do my second Camino Francis with him in 2017....it was a wonderful experience that we still talk about. He was 34 yo. My favourite you tube about teenagers on the way, with a positive attitude is "World Towning" where they walked the whole CFrancis in 2018. They also had to do home schooling. My son said to take them, they'll love it.
 

Gumba

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF March 2018
CF Dec 2019/2020
We walked last year with our 9 and 11 year old boys. We are walking again later this year - they will be 11 and 13. As 9 and 11 year olds we let them walk ahead. if they hadn't seen us for 15 minutes or more they sat and waited for us. For this reason our boys will have phones so we are in contact. They were expected to order pay for things in Spanish. My 13 year old is planning on making a Vlog on kids walking the Camino, so he will definitely have technology. I see Kiwi's point about not having technology though. And I laughed at ....

My very youngest commented on our last Camino when she was 12 that obviously she was no longer an attraction as people didn’t ply her with chocolate or say how amazing it was that she was doing her own washing or cooking any more! So your kids will likely be treated as adults - this is one of the gifts of the Camino I believe.

So true, Rachel. Kids were revered by the locals. Fellow Pilgrims will treat them as equals, not as kids.

It is a wonderful experience to be walking with your children.

To answer your question, we walked at a relatively quiet time of the year but still saw plenty of children. I dont think they missed their friends really - although they sent lots of postcards! (they are not allowed on social media - perhaps this is a concern for older children?
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Ok, I've been lurking on these forums for some time and couldn't find any posts on this... so hopefully, this isn't too redundant of a question.

I'm looking to do the Camino in May/June 2020 (likely start 5/24 and target finish by end of June) with my wife and two sons -- one will be almost 16 and the other will turn 14 on the Camino.

For those who have been, do you see families doing the Camino?

I assume it's most common to see individuals or couples or perhaps older family groups - as adults perhaps.

I guess I'm asking you who been on it - do you see any families with younger (teenage kids) and what are your thoughts in general on bringing two teens. I know they are nervous about being away from friends for a month, but I'm hoping that the life experience far outweighs those teenage concerns.

I'd love your thoughts/comments on taking my two teenage sons with us.
In 2016 I walked with my son who turned 16 in Carrion de los Condes. We walked in July and August (so he wouldn't miss any school). In our camino cohort, we didn't come across many teenagers his age. There were a couple Spanish families with a teenagers we saw for a few days at different points on the Camino (one by Pamplona and another on the meseta) and that was about it. There was also a Korean family walking with two younger children (5 and 7). Almost all of the pilgrims were university age and older. So there were probably some 18 or 19 year old teens, but that is a big gap for a 14 or 15 year old.

That said, it was a great experience. I only had one teen, but then again, I only had one parent, too. My wife and daughter were left back in Canada. I later overheard my son telling my daughter that the Camino was where he discovered how cool I am. What parent could ask for more than that. He did, however, feel disconnected from his friends at home in his age group and spent a fair amount of time when he wasn't walking trying to keep in touch with them via texting etc. That was important to him then. Later, he said that one of his regrets from the Camino was that he spent too much time trying to connect with his community at home and not enough time in the alberguers connecting with the pilgrim community. A lesson for his next Camino.

If you are interested, there is a family (mother, father, 14 year old daughter, 10 year old son) who walked the Camino more recently and documented it extensively with a nice YouTuble vlog. You can find them by going to YouTube and searching for "Worldtowning".
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues May 2019
I also weigh in on limited use of social media devices- I took my 14 year old niece to Ireland one summer and found that her constant texting to all her friends (and mother) about everything we were doing a constant frustration. I felt left out, and that I was taking all those people on a trip that was just for us two. She resented my frequent suggestions that she put away her phone and take in what was around us. To her credit, months after our return, she apologized to me about the constant phone/texting and admitted that in retrospect, she realized how much she had missed. While, I am at an age where I will probably never understand the need to be in contact with others constantly, I would like to offer that I have found travel to create memories, insights, and knowledge (of self and other), that often needs to be digested and integrated before sharing with others, and some experiences might not be shared at all but kept in one's soul. But a traveler needs time to sort those out.
 

Ellen Montague

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2016
I think it is great that you are taking your kids. My daughter and I walked the Camino Frances together when she was 14 and I think it really helped her with being confident in high school and avoiding peer pressure. Walking together also really strengthened our relationship.

My daughter is now 17 and is walking the Camino Frances by herself. She is almost done and has met really great people and had an amazing time. She has one more year of high school to go but I think of this trip as her rite of passage/ her walkabout into being an adult.

I think I have worried more about her, even though I know it is irrational, because I'm so far away in America. I just have to keep reminding myself that she already did the most dangerous part of the trip which was the hour it took on the highway to get to the airport.

Walking with your kids will be an experience of a lifetime that you will always remember.
 

omi1

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to SDC (2014)
Porto to SDC (2015)
Astorga to SDC(2017)
SJPdeP toBurgos (Oct 2018)
"World Towning" on youtube has a series of videos made by a family walking the camino together. The kids are around 10 and 14 yo. I quite enjoyed watching their journey.
Edited to add: sorry, i just realised Miki Goldie had already mentioned this.
 
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Silus

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP (Oct 2018)
Portugués (Oct 2019) Coastal/Spiritual
Finisterre/Muxia (Oct 2019)
My wife and I took our son who turned 18 (day 3) while we were in Pamplona last year. For the first week or so there was another couple with a slightly younger daughter. Other than school groups and some very young children we saw one or two other parents with older children/young adults during our full CF.
Having said that one of my work mates is considering taking her son over this year to celebrate his finishing school, and moving into the world as an adult.
My son had various periods on his own or with other pilgrims including 10km from Herrerias to O’Cebreiro (our entire days walking). Considering how shy and introverted he is this was quite the achievement.
In terms of a life experience and shared family memory I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
 

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