Backpacker Radio 104 | Ben Crawford on Thru-Hiking the AT with a Family of 8

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio, presented by The Trek, we are joined by Ben Crawford of the Crawford Family.  In 2018, Ben Crawford, along with his wife Kami, and their six kids, ages between two and sixteen years old, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.  We learn all about the unique challenges of this undertaking, including how to keep kids spirits high when hiking in snow for over a month, what their gear system looked like, and how they handled a very mixed reception from the online hiking community.  This conversation also takes some wlid turns including how Ben and Kami were excommunicated from their Christian Missionary group, how he hit the jackpot as a blackjack card counter, and why he doesn’t school his kids (either in the traditional sense or with homeschooling).

We wrap the show by announcing the winners of our big episode 100 giveaway, we have a triple crown of villains, and we get some horse facts, llama edition.

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Interview with Ben Crawford 

00:04:41: QOTD: What is your favorite crossfit lift? 

00:10:00 – Welcome Ben Crawford of the Crawford Family

00:10:14 – Give us the full breakdown of how you got started on the AT

00:12:04 – Does the government have it’s own branded peanut butter? 

00:14:00 – Did you have a family to look up to before starting the trail? 

00:16:10 – Can you do a run through of the kids and their ages? 

00:17:56 – Are you and your wife still religious? 

00:18:46 – Why were you excommunicated? 

00:20:15 – When you were excommunicated did you lose all of your friends? Or did you have friends outside the church?

00:21:25 – What led you to start questioning what was happening around you?

00:24:50 – When did you make the leap from realizing your kids were physically capable to deciding to hike the AT? 

00:28:31 – When did you start the trail and when did you plan to finish? 

00:29:20 – Can you tell us how cold it was in March when you started? 

00:30:41 – What were the hikers around you saying seeing a family that big with temperatures that low? 

00:32:14 – Were the kids carrying their own gear? What was your overall gear system and setup?

00:33:20 – What tent did you have for the kids? 

00:37:30 – What is your strategy for keeping morale up for the whole family? 

00:40:28 – What was your parenting style that created adventurous, outdoorsy kids? 

00:44:20 – Is there any science to show that it’s bad for kids to over exert themselves at such a young age? 

00:47:07 – Can you talk about CPS getting involved while you were out on trail? 

00:49:51 – How did you deal with people talking about you online? 

00:51:07 – What happened when the government was called? 

00:55:00 – You think the person who called on you did so from youtube? 

00:56:29 – What is unschooling? 

00:58:21 – Do you think your rejection of institutions and institutionalization comes from your upbringing in the church? 

00:59:32 – Can you talk about your career and entrepreneurial pursuits? What was your business life like prior to the trail? 

01:04:14 – How do you get people to start black jack? 

01:04:26 – Holy Rollers: The True Story of Cound Carting Christians

01:05:18 – Do people need a certain background to be good at black jack? 

01:06:46 – So is it against house rules? 

01:09:28  – Have you always been good at math? And what skills are required to execute this? And What is it? 

01:11:07 – So you need learning money? 

01:12:04 – What’s the advantage without counting cards? 

01:14:25 – How do kids learn math when they are doing unschooling? Or other things that are essential to doing “life” things?

01:16:45 – What about reading? 

01:17:28 – Do you  have any sort of confines for the kids? Are there things kids have to do during the day? 

01:20:58 – Is it easier for you to give 45k for your kids to build a house after doing black jack? 

01:22:15 – What happened with the kids and the house?

01:22:36 – Are you teaching them the carpentry skills, etc.?

01:24:40 – Do you have any framework for how you go about something like giving the kids a house? 

01:28:22 – Can you tell us the Katahdin story and the conclusion to your hike? 

01:33:40 – How can people budget for a thru-hike? Or go outside the confines of a 9-5 to fund a hike? 

SEGMENTS

Episode 100 Winner:

  • Package 1 Winner: Justin Cornell
  • Package 2 Winner: Meredith Snyder
  • Package 3 Winner: Henk Humes
  • Honorable Mention for Chuck Lopez for putting all the show intros together

Trek Propaganda

Triple Crown of Villains

(Fire Season Prediction for 2021: Grim)

‘This has never happened’: California’s only wildfire research center makes scary discovery

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Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Drew Smith : May 11th

    Just listened to BPR #104 Ben Crawford telling about his family’s AT hike. It was so interesting, like all of your interviews. Thanks.
    I’ve been visited by Child protection services in the Smokies too. It was in a front country campground, my wife and I went out for an early morning run leaving the 3 boys ages 5,11 and 14 in the tent. Sometime after returning, we were visited by two “officers” from the cps, and questioned, scolded ect. A report was made. We were allowed to keep the kids as long as such a thing did not happen again. We think that the people in the adjoining campsite had reported us, because previously the park ranger had ordered some of them to leave because they had too many people and vehicles in the campsite. They were trying to get us kicked out so that they could split their group into the two adjoining sites. We stayed.
    Maybe its safer in the backcountry.
    Drew

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