It’s been quite a year or so, hasn’t it? In my view as a parent, these past months have been so impactful on children’s state of mind that I felt obliged to share my perspective.
I lead a privileged life, where in normal times I get to travel with my kids to far flung and exotic places such as Morocco or New Zealand to help give them a balanced view of the world. I understand there are people who are unable to do this, but sharing nature with our children (and ourselves) is more important than ever. Even when we were unable to travel, we did night time bike rides throughout winter to keep our heads and minds engaged. We can always do something to get out in nature and reconnect.
River trips obviously have a very special place in my heart and I especially love sharing them with my kids, Holly and Josh. I would love for them to have the same passion for their careers as I do have for mine, something that I stumbled upon purely by accident after answering an advertisement for a raft guide school in Queenstown, New Zealand.
It also shows them what to do when you are faced with challenges, both when it comes to logistics or unexpected setbacks. You can either ‘make a plan’ or follow tried and tested procedures with safety to get the best outcome. A classic example of this was when we took them on the Salmon River in Idaho and literally 25 minutes after we started the trip, we were hit with a heavy hailstorm. Thankfully the kids could shelter under the ‘sun umbrella’ and Dad had to pop on his helmet in order not to come away with a bruised head! Soon after, the hail stopped and we arrived at some amazing hot springs where we could all warm up and laugh about what just happened.
You can prepare amazing meals on the riverbank and you don’t need all the latest gadgets and appliances to provide incredible meals. For example, you can cook lasagna in a dutch oven, individual pizzas, canapes and even freshly made banoffee pie (a firm favourite of my two!)
We are fortunate that our two kids are not continuously glued to their phones and devices, but the temptation to post an Instagram story before your big sister is always there. But the best news is that there’s no cell coverage on most of our trips, so the kids (and parents) get to totally relax and unplug and reconnect with nature. And the even better news? They probably wont even be thinking about their phones. They’ll be helping the guides (who will ‘out-cool’ you by many factors, sorry parents) as they cook, do dishes, load gear boats, play games, and tell awesome—if occasionally exaggerated—stories.
As parents, we know it’s important to try and give our children amazing adventures, without being stressed that the adventure is too challenging for them—or possibly too easy.
Here are a few age-appropriate adventures for your family:
Younger Kids (8-14 years old)
Older kids (>16 years old but still wanting to travel with you)
I think one of the things we have all learned from the past months, is if you are able to, don’t wait. Live your best life with your family now. We can’t wait for you to join us.
by Hamish McMaster
Hamish McMaster is the Water By Nature owner. He has spent the past 25 years exploring and playing on the world's great rivers. He still loves nothing more than getting out there and sharing adventures.
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