My dad almost never went adventuring with buddies. instead, he poured his time and energy into adventuring with his wife and daughters. That meant lots of car camping, hikes that involved more frog catching than peak bagging, and plenty of time on the green runs at Mission Ridge Ski Area. Here’s what my dad taught me about raising adventurous kids.
1. Kids need playtime, not forced marches.
My dad kept us interested in going hiking and camping by letting us play. He didn’t insist on dragging us along on hikes that were too hard for us, even if they would have been fun or fulfilling for him. Our love for the outdoors was formed long before we were capable of hard core activities.
2. Take the kids off the beaten path.
One doesn’t have to go deep into designated wilderness areas to find solitude. Kids love to play in the unmaintained edges of parks. A pull out along a river may be nothing more than a quick photo stop for an adult, but for a kid it can provide a day’s worth of adventure. These ignored places can become precious to kids. After all, everyone knows about the swings and jungle gym at the park, but only they know about that perfect patch of overgrown grass where the biggest crickets hide.
2. No one can pass down love for the outdoors like a parent.
Dad could have shipped us off to summer camp and climbed Mt Rainier while we were gone. He didn’t. Instead he invested in our experiential education himself.
3. In time, your children may become your best adventure buddies.
Once I hit junior high, I started backpacking with my dad. When I became a whitewater guide my senior year of high school, I was able to introduce him to the river.
Last night our little one intently watched the flames of our weekly community campfire from the warmth and safety of Steve’s arms. Her usual evening fussiness was replaced by peaceful fascination. The day before, she had listened happily from her car seat as Steve and I sung the first couple of verses of “The Other Day I Saw a Bear” over and over again. When the music stopped, the tears began, so we sang that classic camp song for the entirety of our half-hour car ride. Today we went for a walk in drizzling rain. I tried to pull my coat up and around her front pack, but she fussed until I arranged things so she could turn her head back and forth and look out. She blinked every time a tiny rain drop landed on her eyelashes. For now, these are her adventures and I am proud to share them with her.