By David Skinner
I’m a dad, and I love the adventure of the outdoors. But with work and the responsibilities of a family my adventures come in much smaller chunks than they used to. A 20 minute bike ride is now more of a luxury than I care to admit and wrangling 3 children into a vehicle puts my very last nerve in jeopardy on a daily basis. But my love of life is still alive and well, and I sneak off into the wild whenever the opportunity show up to quiet the noise of the daily grind a bit. Lately, I’m finding myself wondering how to pass that passion on to these little leaders that I’m not only responsible to protect but also develop into the very best I have to offer this world. How do I instill in my kids a passion for adventure, an appreciation for the balance of our fragile world, and a respect for the wonders all around us? In short, how do I encourage them to grab life by the neck and refuse to settle for anything less than an exceptional experience.
Here are a few thoughts from my brief 6 years as a dad, and a lifetime as a child at heart.
1. Embrace and highlight the little things. – There are so many rocks with little worlds underneath.
Getting dirty is one of the most important things we can do – it’s impossible to be connected to a world we never touch. The tactile feel of sand under toes, mud behind ears, and a blistering sunburn that radiates for hours establishes a deep experience with the world around us. It connects us to the elements and imprints the world on our brain. The most amazing smiles my girls have come from sticky faces, with skinned knees and bruises everywhere.
2. Inspire to roam – Exploring the amazing close to home
There are so many reasons to stay close to home. It’s a guarantee that something amazing can be found within easy reach. Taking the time to see the small wonders within an hour of home can relieve the monotony of life and fortifies the understanding that you can embrace life anywhere. Find a place within 20 minutes of home that inspires, refreshes, or adds adventure to life. It is the many small moments that add up to a life well spent, show them that life is too short to live uninspired.
3. Climbing the world grounds us – Vertical is awesome
Kids by nature climb everything. Anything in the hands of a child becomes a jungle gym. Safely give kids a place to climb up and see things from another angle. I think one of the reasons that climbing is so appealing for a child is the change in perspective. They spend so much of their life looking up at a world built for adults, let them see how a different view changes everything.
One of the most abundant blessings of youth is a limitless supply of energy, followed closely by an annoyingly persistent thirst for life. These gifts provide such an opportunity to instill a lifelong desire to chug the hell out of life. As parents our greatest contribution to their success is to give them the freedom to run, climb, and embrace this messy world every chance we get. I challenge you to find a place where adventure can be found within a few minutes of home; it shouldn’t be hard - just find a mud puddle.