What My Mom Taught Me About Raising Adventurous Kids

raising adventurous kids-mom

1. Camping (or hiking or skiing) with kids is a lot of work…

camping family
Camping with my sisters,1998.

My Mom put in hours of time packing for camping trips, setting up camp, cooking at camp, and cleaning up after the trip. All of us girls believed that camping meant sleeping in a tent, so trailers, even tent trailers, were out of the question. My mom made the best of it by bringing along a screen house and a tent to house a camp potty. We relied on that screen house as an escape from mosquitoes. Once darkness fell, we skipped the trip to the outhouse and made use of the camp potty, which saved many saved trips for my mom

2. …but, eventually, your kids will be old enough to help.

My mom asked my sisters and I to help with age appropriate packing tasks. As time went on, we could do more and more and camping became less of a chore for my mom. I know that if I put in time training my daughter in the fine art of trip preparation, it will pay off down the road.

scottish high lakes (38)
scottish high lakes (13)
Scottish Lake High Camp, 2007









3. Reading is a key part of adventuring.

At the end of long days playing in the woods, my sisters and I looked forward to curling up in the tent and listening to my mom read classic adventure stories to us, books like Rascal, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. Reading expanded my adventurous imagination and added depth to camping trips. These authors share their love for the natural world in their writing and their words helped me to recognize the wonder all around me. I learned about self-sacrifice, courage, and stamina. Even though my outdoor adventures did not involve saving Middle Earth, I came to associate time spent in nature with completing meaningful tasks. Once I became a river and wilderness guide, I was able to realize dreams of helping others through adventure by introducing others to the natural world, and hopefully instilling in them a respect and love for Creation.

4. Don’t use fear as an excuse for keeping your kids inside.

Now that I’m a mom, I have to remember what my mom taught me about fear. She had plenty of treason to be nervous about me over the years, but she still let me explore. I know I will fear for my daughter’s safety when she gets the chance to experience activities that i have relished, whitewater rafting for instance. I could keep her from experiencing the natural world out of a desire to keep her safe. The trouble is that I might keep her from learning important life skills that will ultimately help her make wise decisions in her life.

Guiding the Wenatchee River, 2004

My parents succeeded (maybe better than they had wanted to) at raising my sisters and I to be bold and adventurous. Just the other day I was telling a friend about my sister’s latest adventures in Chile. Her response? “Wow. You never know what you Murphy girls are going to do next.”


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