Travels with Brittany: Goodbye, Roasted Marshmallows. A Generation of Adrenaline-Driven Teens Takes Camping to a New Level
Meadows, Susannah, Newsweek
Byline: Susannah Meadows
Brittany Lagrega, 14, is leaving Long Island, N.Y., in a few days for a camping trip on steroids--rock climbing in the Grand Tetons, white-water kayaking and hiking more than 30 miles with a 50-pound pack on her back, all in two weeks--but on this morning at an Eastern Mountain Sports store, the adventure has already begun. Sales associate Steve Sadowski has broken a sweat delivering, like a ponytailed Saint Nick, all the items on Brittany's equipment list. Two Nalgene water bottles, check; two polypropylene shirts, check; one stuff sack--"What's a stuff sack?" asks Brittany. She's never done this kind of thing before but was encouraged by her crew coach to push herself. "My friend's brother said he only took one shower," says Brittany. "I'm going to, like, die."
Unseasoned kids like Brittany are flocking to adventure travel and rising to new limits of achievement, thrill and dirtiness. Where there was once either plain old camping or the hard-core wilderness training of Outward Bound and NOLS, the '90s brought a new class of adventure-travel companies that flipped the philosophy from less to more. Emphasizing fun over outdoor fundamentals and cramming more excitement into fewer days, these new trips attract kids for whom roasting marshmallows is so over. With their families or in groups of teens, they're backcountry snowboarding, hiking across glaciers and swimming with stingrays. "Now kids are addicted to the rush, whether it's going on the next roller coaster or conquering the next mountain," says travel expert Emily Kaufman.
High-tech gear has helped get more kids off their chaises longues by making the adventures more comfortable and fun. Every year brings lighter, better gear and softer, faster-drying, more water-resistant fabrics. And which kid--or adult--doesn't want to play with a toy like the Rino, which is like a walkie-talkie that maps the location of the other user? …