Outdoor Adventures with Kids?

Recently, I have become keenly aware of a concern some parents have with outdoor adventures with younger children.  To me, when I talk to parents (especially moms) about our kayaking adventures, I am hearing a mixture of apprehension, yet a desire to do something special and adventurous with their kids.  To be honest, this is something new to me and to be honest somewhat concerning.  Concerning because I believe kids are in need of adventure.  Maybe it is just me, but at times I believe some parents are being overly protective of their children.  This is not totally a bad thing, but when kids grow up afraid of venturing out into the wilderness on an adventure, something is wrong.

I’ll go ahead and admit it, as parents of three of the most amazing kids a mom and dad could ever have, my wife and I have been protective of them.  This protectiveness has been from the worldly prospective and the bad things this world offers.  Let’s face it, there is a lot of bad in this world that we need to protect our kids from.  If you are a parent, you know what I am talking about.  Diane (my beautiful wife of 28 years) have provided our kids with a loving and secure home, an awesome church to attend that supports our belief in God and kept them involved in positive activities such as organized sports, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  But that is not all.  Our kids have been introduced to wilderness adventures from a early age.  I also believe that these experiences have shaped them into who they are today.

But I am amazed at the number of families who never attempt a grand outdoor adventure of any kind.  You know a weekend camping trip, a kayaking adventure through a beautiful swamp or a day long hike to some remote mountain lake.  To me, a great outdoor adventure is something that every family and young child needs to experience in their life.  Why?  Kids are naturally curious and like exploring.  These experiences help them to learn to deal with the unknown, but grow in confidence in who God created them to be.

Fun Kayaking with the kids
Are we there yet?

Camping, hiking and adventure was one thing that Diane and I enjoyed while we were dating and even after we were married.  So when our kids started coming along, our adventures naturally began to include them.  Yes, we had to make special accommodations for them, our oldest daughter, Hillary was only 3 month old when she went camping for the first time.  I remember that first time camping trip, she was with us.  It was Fathers Day weekend and off we went into the mountains of North Georgia, to camp in one of the many wildlife management areas.  On this adventure there were three other families joining us, enjoying the weekend of rain, mud, cool North Georgia Mountains mist, fellowship and adventure.  One of our fiends with us was 6 months pregnant.  Once we got to camp, her husband said that he thought that she was going to have the baby on the road driving in because of all the bouncing over rocks we did getting to camp.

Our family has many other stories about our time spent in the wilderness camping, hiking or even kayaking together.   I realized just how important these times were to my family two years ago when my son-in-law,  Josh started coming around to date Hillary.  Josh was bold enough to come camping with us the first Thanksgiving he was dating Hillary.  We spent the holiday at Carolina Beach State Park, eating a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, all cooked over the fire and sharing stories with Josh about all our adventures together.  But was so amazing to me was to hear my children talking about that these camping adventures with so much excitement and enthusiasm.  It was so cool to see our children regal Josh with their stories and the joy of re-living all those times that we had shared together.  For Diane and I, this was one of those moments that we will cherish for a long time.  What parent would not want to share something like that someday with their children?

I understand that everybody has the knowhow or even equipment to properly and safely do there own outdoor adventure with their children.  There may even be some fear about the unknown involved.  Questions about bugs or animals, what to do if you get lost, or a storm should come up on you.  Maybe questions about how do we stay warm if it turns off really cold.  These questions can go on.  I get questions like this when I take people on kayaking adventures; what happen if I fall out of the kayak, or will a snake fall out of the tree on me?  These are natural fears that people have, and from time to time, I even have some fear about something of my own that I don’t know about.  But over the years of adventuring in the great outdoors, I have learned that if I use my God given senses and have the proper equipment to support me, I will be ok.  Yes, I get caught in a storm every now and then and I get wet, real wet.  Yes, I have been lost in the woods before, but I used the knowledge I learned in Boy Scout to find my way.

Father and daughter kayaking
Father and daughter making their way through some trees on Holly Shelter Creek.

What I am saying is don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you from having an adventure of a life time with your kids.  There are many resources to learn about how to camp or kayak.  If you are not sure what to do or where to go, chose a guide service like Mahanaim Adventures to provide the knowhow and equipment for a first time adventure with your family.  Its great fun and I promise you this; you will be making a family memory that will last for a long time.  Who knows, you may learn more about yourself in the process.