Personally, Shiang-ling and I think we have the most fun when our family is outside. There is just something about how we spend our time outside, the elements and the naturalness of it all comes together and makes lasting memories whether we’re on the objective side of a camera lens or not.
Hiking – We have recently started hiking more. We’ve always wanted to go hiking, but we just never made time to do it or had the terrain for the most part. We aren’t talking trails either because we’d go on trail walks as a family all the time. What we were looking to do is to have some elevation change, put some miles on, play in an interesting area (i.e. waterfall, crevasse, span footbridge, etc…) not only for our sake, but for the physical, mental, and emotional growth of our children’s lives.
Fishing – I used to fish all summer long with my childhood friend, David. He and I would meet up at each other’s house, with poles in hand, a couple of stale slices of bread in the other, then bike to the freshwater pond, and cast those lines. We didn’t eat any, strictly catch and release but watching that fish approach and finally make the decision to consume, FISH ON! It’s a delight my children are beginning to find the fascination with. Recently they’ve learned brook trout fishing in Vermont, gutting, and cooking them over a fire they built themselves! (Napoleon Dynamite’s brother Kip, “yesssth”….) I’m not the only one here too. Shiang-ling has been a water baby her whole life. Whether is was lobstering, water sports, hanging out on islands, or just on the family boat, she has the same approach to this pastime as I do. Get out and enjoy the water.
Camping – When it comes to camping you might say I’m a bit of an experienced person. Growing up and attaining the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), being a naturally outdoorsy type of guy, and well over a decade with the Marine Corps elite. So… safe to say I know a thing or two not only about camping, but the sacrifices of comfort for the experience. This area, like the rest, are what Shiang-ling has been pushing for our family since she delivered our first child. “We need to go camping”… something I heard often, and now with our current lifestyle choice, we can! Camping can teach children many life skills that are not only good for outdoor situations, but develop character that is transferable to many of life’s circumstances. I.e. taking care of life’s needs when tired, learning when to slow down, having confidence in one’s abilities, working as a team for the greater good, learning discomfort and to push through it, and many, many more.
Kayaking – Here’s where we have the most laughs, in my humble, dad-jokes, type of opinion. Whether it’s our kids jumping off felled trees into the water, losing their kayaks on rapids and going back to get them, solo, because no one else lost theirs, getting scared of snapping turtles just below them, and all the other wonders that become visible when alone in the wildlife of a twisting and turning river. Shiang-ling and I have taken five-mile trips ourselves and felt so magically intrigued at the end that we knew shortly after the kids needed their own kayaks and away we went. Best decision ever. To make things better, research the wildlife, flora, and other interesting data and quiz the kids or make it a BINGO format card. However, the first one to call it is the only one who gets to mark it off.
Bonfires/Fires – We love gathering around a fire. The nostalgia, history and importance of fire is so primal; not only that, but it teaches so much. Respect of fire, how to keep one burning, how to rekindle in the morning, how to cook, and my favorite, the elders sit closest (for the most part) to the fire to discuss matters while the youth listen, learn, and respond if called upon. The tribalism approach to many of our life’s journey also teaches children to respect elders, to listen, speak when it’s time, and learn, learn, learn. Who better to teach them then the village they grow to learn and the ideals they witness?
Life is an adventure. Don’t be afraid to take a wrong turn, chances are it’ll lead to one hell of a story!