I’ve heard it said many times. I’ve said it myself plenty! “I want my kids to grow up with the same values I have.” The problem is, when we dig down to it, it’s sometimes quite difficult to articulate those values.
And certainly passing them on to our children is not something we have devoted time to or set about doing deliberately.
It’s true, that our children absorb an awful lot about values from what they see, watch and contextualise about our behaviour. But is there a point at which this transfer of values from generation to generation becomes more just good luck rather than good management?
Imparting values to your children is possibly one of the most important attributes that we can equip our children with as they transition from childhood through to adulthood. These attributes are too important to leave to chance or misinterpretation. We need to be deliberate about how we approach the teaching of values to our kids. But how do we go about that? It’s not exactly standard dinner table conversation. Especially if there is more than one child and they are spread across a range of ages. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ discussion by any stretch of the imagination. So how can we create the ideal situation where the transfer of this knowledge isn’t forced? How can we make it feel more natural?
I firmly believe that there is no better place for these value discussions and behaviour modelling to take place than in the outdoors. There are two reasons why this is the case. For a start, if you take your child out for a bushwalk or a canoe paddle or any other outdoor pursuit you have immediately created a level playing field between your world’s. It’s not school for your child and it’s not house, chores or work for you. It’s a common world of discovery that you can share with your child. And in this new world come a set of rules, guidelines and parameters that are unique. You are setting up a mini community where everything has to get done a different way for life to carry on. Particularly if it’s a multi-day trip; there’s camp to set up, there is gear to look after, there is work to be done to make sure dinner is ready, cleanup, etc. This takes both you and your child into a fresh relationship that perhaps hasn’t happened before (or if you have done it before, no matter how many times, a refreshing of these rules away from home and school). As such, the potential for learning is increased. One of the best catalysts for learning is transferring existing skills into a new environment and adapting them to suit. There is also the need to acquire new skills for the new outdoor environment and/or activity.
The second reason is that it allows you to talk about the event in preparation and lay some groundwork for the discussion prior to the activity. Rather than just be some random conversation in the midst of the routine of daily life, you have created a situation whereby the rules need to change and you can talk about that in your preparation leading up to the activity. You’ll need to talk about all sorts of things relating to getting ready for the camp. And a big part of that can be a discussion around values.
There are many values and we all make decisions from day-to-day based on those values. Many of the differences that we in enjoying our community (or can be negatively applied to create fraction) are as a result of not having the same values for everyone. But there is generally considered a core set of values that most of us as humans uphold more than others. And these are what’s referred to as the Cardinal Values. The ‘For Dummies’ website defines them as follows;
- Wisdom (or Prudence) is basically practical common sense. It’s saying or doing the proper thing, at the proper time, and in the appropriate manner. It’s also the ability to know and judge whether to say something or do nothing at all.
- Justice is the value that seeks to promote fair play. It’s the desire and resolve to give each person his due. It demands that you reward goodness and punish evil. Justice can be one of three different types:
- Commutative justice is based on the principle of quid pro quo, which is Latin for this for that. Commutative justice requires, for example, that a customer pay a fair price for worthwhile goods.
- Distributive justice involves the relationship between one and many — between an individual and a group — a person and the government, for example.
- Social justice concerns the relationships between individuals and groups between one another and everyone. The common good and equal treatment are the cornerstones of social justice.
- Moderation (or Temperance) is the value by which a person uses balance. It’s the good habit that allows a person to relax and have fun without crossing the line and committing sin (Sounds a bit old school, I know).
- Courage (or Fortitude) is the ability to persevere in times of trial and tribulation — the ability to hang in there when the going gets tough. It’s courage to do the right thing, no matter what the cost.
So in closing, I would encourage any parent to make a deliberate purpose of teaching their children about values and instructing them in the path the parent wishes to see the child grow. And when he/she is older he/she will not depart from that path (paraphrased from Proverbs 22:6).
So how might that look in today’s real world? Patience, my Padowan. More on this topic soon.
In the meantime, Camp in Comfort.
Hi All, I hope this blog finds you well.
I must admit I loved it. It was worth the hassle. I wish I could do more of it. What am I talking about? Seeing humans operating outside the ‘norm’. Without those things that we take for granted in day to day life. You know, things like running water, electricity, a roof overhead in poor weather, etc.
I never actually got the point of carrying a power point to stick on a tree (as above) but I spoke of it many times. But once I did take a tap attached to a short piece of gal water pipe. I was on a multi day hike with a group of 15 year old, city dwelling boys. Sneakily, I punched the tap and pipe into the ground as we arrived at camp. When asked where the water was I pointed to the tap. More than one boy tried the tap.
They returned to inform me it wasn’t working. I said “Just pick it up and jam it in somewhere else and have another go”. They did.
It still didn’t work. Ah well. Made me giggle. Is that evil?
Not everything has to be a serious lesson about life.
Til next time, Camp in Comfort.
I hope this post finds you and your family well.
Okay, this time I am actually sitting at my desk cause its pouring with rain outside! So it’s time to get into some inside work. Being the school holidays here the kids are in their room tidying (supposedly) so the vacuum cleaner can actually see the floor! My office is opposite their bedrooms so I’ve hunkered down to do some more research on a couple of topics.
I’ve been employing the age old tactic of doing my own thing whilst keeping an eye on the kids progress. If I read my own book I would find out that this isn’t exactly parenting 101! So I combined a couple of topics and came across a good blog post that I want to share.
We have recently been encouraging our kids to think a ‘bigger life’. Nothing too massive but looking a bit further down their life journey and seeing reason to be positive, not just day to day existence, which is very easy to fall into if we don’t think about it deliberately. My wife (T) came across a book, The Big Life Journal for kids. We have ordered one for each of the children. It has also put us on the database for their email newsletter. This blog came across my desk in this mornings email. Click here for the blog link. Have a read and think about putting the printable banner up somewhere to keep the kids focus on positivity. It’s not all fairies and stardust. It’s a well balanced article that might help you to get your kids to think about living a bigger life.
In the meantime, stay dry and when possible, get outdoors with your family. Nothing creates positive attitudes more than exploring outside!
Camp in Comfort
I have had a bee in my bonnet that has been buzzing louder and louder for a while now. But I have reached my own little ‘Critical Mass’. Deeply seeded in who I am and what I have been doing for the last 20 years is the process of taking people to the outdoors. Sometimes for education, sometimes for team building, sometimes for leadership training, sometimes for family connection time.
Partly due to the time frame, but always due the physical location I have worked in, technology and electronic devices have been largely non existent or not operable. And by extension, the outcomes achieved from these ‘outdoor adventures’ around the topics of ‘relationships’ or ‘interactions’ has become the key focus of the experience. So without actually trying, I have seen the value of humans interacting meaningfully in the absence of technology.
Which brings me to my point, a line in the sand, if you will. Ready?
Why do we rush to put technology like smartphones in the hands of our children? Are we too quick to utilise screens as electronic baby sitters?
There, I said it. And I’m going to stick my head above the trench for a while on this one. I see some benefits of smartphone and screen use and I think it’s important for kids to learn to use the ‘tools of the future’. In fact, when used appropriately smartphones and other screens can be an asset in the field of learning and study. So I’m not anti technology. But I do see the down sides …… regularly.
And, in my opinion, it manifests itself in a weird way. Most often I hear the negatives from parents at school drop off or pickup. “I can’t get him off the screen.” or “She had a friend over and all they did was stare at their phones”.
Now, I could get all ‘sciencey’ and quote the many studies I have read, but the reality is that smartphones haven’t really been around long enough to get too much meaningful data on how they have impacted on the long term health and well being of children as they grow to adulthood. What with the many changes that occur in children as they navigate their way through the teens into young adults and add into the mix the natural progression of a society as it continually adapts to new technologies and ways of thinking. It would be hard to single out the changes made by engagement with smartphones! As such most of the studies have centred around more immediate, more measurable topics such as How smartphones have impacted educational outcomes, or How smartphones impact sleeping patterns. Sample sizes have been relatively small compared to many other such studies. But we are starting to see some very disconcerting occurrences. It is now a recognised psychological condition to be ‘addicted’ to screens (gaming seems to be the leading contender here). In fact, a large component of school absences are attributed to this. With so much information and opinion circulating around most of what I believe boils down to anecdotal evidence and observations by my colleagues and me from nearly 20 years of working with young people in the outdoors.
My wife (T) and I came across an American website titled https://www.waituntil8th.org/. I would encourage any parent to have a look at this site and consider the pledge. It asks parents to wait until Year 8 (8th Grade in the United States) before the giving of a smartphone to your child/children. For us it came to a point after we had issued a phone to our daughter. We didn’t like who she became with the phone (maturity levels are different for all children). So after a while we took it back. This was really hard for both her and us. But after 2 weeks of behaving like a withdrawing drug addict, our daughter returned. She is now in year 7 and ‘borrows’ the phone on occasions. With this her maturity around smartphone usage has increased dramatically. She is on track to get a smartphone next year.
I hope you take a look at the website. It is thought provoking if nothing else. I will expand on this topic a little more in upcoming blogs.
Until then, take care.
So there I was ….
My youngest child, let’s call him ‘E’, is 9 years old. He currently doesn’t have an ‘outside of school’ interest, sport or hobby. So we’ve been encouraging him to try sport other than his normal physical education at school.
This morning he started a three day tennis clinic. When I say three day, it’s an hour and a half in the morning three times. There were many parents on the sidelines watching their children participate in the tennis clinic. The subject of tennis training for this upcoming season was brought up. It was all about which section would train and when.
I was sort of on the edge of the conversation because, without a current outside of school interests for our kids, our afternoons are pretty free and available. However, I was the odd one out. I listened as the parent group engaged in the ifs and buts of which night of the week would suit them better. What with gymnastics, basketball, cricket season about to start, cheerleading, hockey, etc, it was starting to get very difficult to find a common time and day for the tennis training.
And in my mind it begged the question, Are we over programming our children? My wife and I have always been very keen to allow our kids open time to play in the outdoors. We like it when they get dirty, make things out of pieces of the garden and forest, build cubby houses and generally get creative in an open space. It’s an incredibly healthy pursuit for them both and we place a very high priority on creating that time for them. This ability to ‘free play’ is especially valuable when we are on our family camping trips. On our most recent camping holiday our two children (the other a 13 year old girl) were reading a book series called Ranger in Danger while travelling in the car. At the campsites they would pack their Ranger Danger Emergency Packs that they had put together from bits they found in their packs and in the campertrailer and be off in imaginary land for hours …. every evening.
But surrounding us is a world of over programmed children. When I was working at an elite Melbourne private school I saw it over and over. It was almost as if we are not allowed to let our children sit still at all. That their lives need to be filled with ‘things to do’ and ‘places to be’.
I wonder, is this healthy? Have we lost the art of letting children be children? I believe our children have a deep sense of belonging to their home and are incredibly creative as a result of the time spent playing amongst the trees. I think it’s very important that children have a ‘Sense of Place‘. I think that over programming children competes with this Sense of Place to a point where children become unsettled and overstimulated. This problem isn’t helped by the physical surroundings that we have built for ourselves in cities and suburbia. Our houses now almost fill our blocks of land and areas to play outside have become tiny and without too much in the way of garden, you know, old-fashioned shrubs and trees. Whilst we can’t easily go back on the types of houses we’ve chosen to live in, it quite possibly is time to think about the weekly schedule that our children keep and how much we reserve for free play.
It’s not something that you would notice from the outset, but I believe this lack of connection contributes to some of the issues that we see in the mental health statistics of young people.
So maybe it’s time to slow down a little and not see every minute as something that can be filled with an opportunity to achieve something. Maybe it’s time to let children be children and encourage them to play more in a park or backyard or even their imagination.
Well, Easter is not far away and the weather has the potential to be hot here where I live and work at present but fortunately the beach isn’t too far away. With kids it can bring the double edge sword that is play and danger! For the most part we go to what I would consider a very safe inlet beach. It is shallow and slow moving water on the turn of the tide. Plus our kids are very good swimmers (some say natural water babies!).
Sometimes all it takes to make a few days of the holiday a misery is an unwell child. This has happened to us only rarely but each time it has been when we, the parents, have forgotten the basics. Sunscreen regularly and drinking plenty of water. Late in the day the headaches start and by then it’s too little, too late and we know we are in for 24 hours of grizzles, including the restless nights sleep. No one is happy then! And of course sugary drinks don’t help the process.
So now we look like English tourists as we stroll down to the beach fully covered from head to toe and zinc creamed as well, carrying a tub of water and a tub of sunscreen. But you know what? We haven’t had too many grizzle parties lately!
All the best, Camp in Comfort, Scottie B
I had a phone call the other day. I’d rather not name him so let’s call him Rob. He rang to change the date slightly for the pickup of his hire camper trailer. He wanted to pick it up late in the afternoon the day before his I started as he was going to be leaving very early the next morning.
This is quite a common occurrence for us and generally if the trailer is picked up after 4 PM, then we can make it happen at no extra charge. I jumped onto our booking software to see if this would be an issue or not, feeling pretty confident because the week before Easter is not normally all that busy. And that’s the key word… Easter!
It turns out that Robert didn’t actually have a booking. His wife had emailed through an enquiry and we had responded saying there was a trailer available, but somewhere along the lines of communication was mixed up and no booking was actually made (we require a $100 deposit to hold a booking).
So at this late stage Rob has a couple of options, but neither of them are around having a holiday trip away that he hoped for. You see, is already booked the site at the caravan park and now can’t find a camper trailer to get onto it.
I’m not sure how Rob will go, but I sure am hoping that he can find something or grab the late cancellation. Either way, it’s not ideal.
It pays to plan ahead and create a checklist early on all those things that you need to get done and in what order. Think of it as a mini project management process. If you don’t spend any time early on its can create problems later on.
If you don’t have a planning checklist or don’t know how to go about planning your trip away. Click here to get a copy of our ‘Project Camp’ planning checklist.
All the best, camp in comfort, Scottie B
The Outdoors Guy
There are many campertrailer and caravan options I class as good ‘showroom’ models. These are typically ones that are fantastic to view when set up but low on practical application out in the real world. Heavy caravans, multiple room campertrailers, etc. are examples of these ‘showroom’ models. You can’t tow heavy caravans many places off the beaten track and multiple room tents take hours to set up.
With plenty of holiday time left in the calendar and with the camping show season well and truly underway, here are some considerations to make your selection a little easier.
When it is time to pack the campertrailer and head out to ‘the real world’, you need to be thinking about the gear you take and the way you take it. I thought I’d put down some tips from my process over the years of packing and moving in the campertrailer. I thought some scribblings from my end may help someone who is;
- Thinking of new ways to make it all fit,
- Finding out it doesn’t all fit and/or can’t access the right item at the right time without shifting most things! Or,
- About to buy a campertrailer and looking at what storage access options need to be considered.
In reality, one of the features I valued most about the Johnno’s Camper Trailer I hired in the Blue Mountains (NSW, Australia) many years ago was the ease of access and flexibility of storage options. I ruled out a slide out kitchen on my own purchase criteria because, whilst they look good set up and on the show room floor, I felt they robbed me of storage size, shape and accessibility. I wanted an ‘open box’ to get stuff in and out of. I also wanted the side lift access on the trailer. I didn’t want long pull out draws that added weight and reduced accessibility. At the time, the Johnno’s was one of the few that offered the access features on my wish list.
Now, I interrupt this broadcast to mention that I spent the first 2 years of the campertrailer expedition process gathering more and more items to take with me. I’m a bloke, and blokes love toys! I have since spent the next 7 years culling it all down to be as lightweight, space efficient and usable as possible. This still allows for emergency/contingency items, kids toys, etc.
Key consideration number 1 is, wherever possible, pack vertically. While that might sound easy and obvious it does mean that your selection of camping equipment needs be an appropriate height and width. For instance, my camp table is a bamboo slat folding table. It folds in half at exactly the height of the internal dimensions of my campertrailer. Handy! If I’m going to stay a little longer at a campsite, I take an extra kitchen unit (which consists of table, dish rack, storage shelf for pots, pans, etc.) and this packs up to ……. you guessed it, the height of the internal storage area of the campertrailer. So as I open the campertrailer base for unloading the first 140mm or so is tables, standing upright, easy to access, easy to load other items over into the body of the trailer. Flat loading these items would mean either lifting them out to find something underneath or worse, lifting everything out to get the tables.
I have one large box that takes pretty much all the utilities. It is still important that this box is manoeuvrable by one person fully laden, so it’s not extreme. Then at the far end (as I’m standing at the loading side) is the stuff that I load from the open tailgate. I use Sabco Stacka drawers for my food storage. I get 2 drawers high and 2 sets deep. This is so I can slide them forward as soon as I open the tailgate kitchen. I can slide the drawers side by side to access all food instantly (apart from fridge items). A very handy little kitchen set up whether it be a roadside stop or multi night camp. One of the most accessible little storage kits I have is my Drinks kit. This contains coffee and my Aeropress coffee maker! Must be accessible at all times.
My campertrailer, ‘Dusty’, also has a ‘nosecone’ tool box. This houses all the stuff that has the potential to be ‘dirty’. Anything from groundsheets, boots, kids sand toys, recovery gear, etc. This has been great to keep, the dirty in one place and the clean and food in another!
If you’d like more tips and techniques you can join our mailing list or browse the website the www.theoutdoorsguy/com.au
I hope this will help you Camp in Comfort more often! Talk soon, Scottie B
The Outdoors Guy