How to: Adventure Camp

By Douglas Pieterse, Co-Founder & Head Personal Trainer
"It may be simple but not always easy"

The set up

Leading up to the adventure day I mentioned nothing about what I was planning to the kids. On Saturday morning I woke them up at 6am and took them to the living room to explain what was happening. On the couch were a few piles of goodies: clothing, snacks, torch, plastic spoon, towel, sleeping bag, face paint, wet wipes, etc. I left out water to see if they would think of it: my youngest one was the first one to note that we had no water. 

 

I told the boys we would be going on a 40-hour adventure and that they needed to pack what they thought they would need. The logic of rationing was also explained to them, so they knew that once something was finished there would not be a way to get more. From there, I let them pack their own bag so they knew exactly what they had brought and where to find it. This was their survival pack. 

 

We set off to Sai Kung where we caught a boat to Tai Lo Wan beach. We decided to forgo the hike this time as my bag was much heavier than I would have liked.

 

Upon arriving we put our back packs down and then walked the immediate perimeter, followed by a bigger perimeter, to see what our surroundings were and to help us choose the best spot to set up a homebase (giving it a name like homebase makes it more fun!).

 

Once the best home base was selected (close to a water source & toilet facility) our next decision was where the campfire and tents would go and why they felt that spot would work. After explaining that the wind would most likely come off the sea it was agreed that the tent should go between the campfire and the sea to avoid too much smoke. 

 

Whether or not the logic holds true was irrelevant, I just wanted to encourage thinking before taking action as opposed to just doing things with no thought. 

 

Building the tent was good fun, it was exciting to see how they wanted to arrange the sleeping order and where all the various bits and bobs that we'd brought along should go. They then had the opportunity to get everything else in place for the evening before being free to explore. 

 

The good:

The kids were free to explore and play with very limited restrictions. A safe eye was kept on them but ideally, we only intervened when a dangerous situation arose or one that could result in repercussions that may affect them a lot more than they may have realized. They learnt some independence and also how to install their own boundaries.

 

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Who is it for?

Any parent and child that would like some bonding and development time with their child. In my opinion it may be easier for the father to do the camp but I would not be surprised to see some adventurous mothers out there getting their hands dirty and making the fire. 

 

“ You want the real adventure?

Do it their way and see it through their eyes 

 

Patrick Kaminski

 

Watch out:

Be prepared to turn a blind eye to some pretty bad behaviour as the children search for their boundary line. Also, if being dirty and smelly is not your thing then this may not be fun for you. Don’t forget mosquito spray, some cash to buy anything you may have missed along the way, and a pillow for sleeping.

Alternatives:

Look to do a day trip adventure, one where you write out instructions on how to get to a Hong Kong landmark (10 000 Buddha’s in Kowloon for example) and then just follow along and see if they can find it. This set up could be very much the same with the child choosing what they need in order to accomplish a task set in front of them. 

Tips and advice

Let things unroll at the kids' pace, allowing them to explore and experiment with very little boundaries: sleeping late, playing with fire, getting wet, catching bugs, throwing stones, rolling in the sand, poking cattle dung with a stick, drinking and eating at libertum (survival packs), running around in the dark with flash lights, learning to roast marshmallows, taking a bath with a bucket of cold water, peeing in the bush, building imaginary fortresses, using foul language, playing tag, catching lizards and more...

Review

This was such a great time to bond with my kids, we played together now and again but most of the time I just got to observe them in an uninhibited environment. My job was to be available for play or any support they may need to help solve problems they were not able to conclude themselves. Even in this situation, I still encouraged them to do much of the work themselves but sometimes it’s better to wash the dog shit off between their toes properly! I also found this a great time to take photos of the kids as they were having such a good time playing. This ended up being great to watch as the kids started making up their own rules to go by. 

The Verdict:

The biggest takeaway for me was that I need to do this sort of thing more often with them.

 

Sometimes we need to allow our kids to explore and discover this wonderful country and world for themselves. There is a lot we can learn from watching them and realistically it’s not difficult to execute these adventures. I hope to make these adventure days a more regular occurrence. 

 

Here is some more pictures from our adventure

 

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What others say: 

“Naturally, parents want to protect their kids. But they may also be overcautious and miss some priceless opportunities for kids to figure things out for themselves. The hardest part is, I assume, for a parent to let go and watch their child make the mistake. What is the cost of a short-term mishap in terms of a long term lesson learnt? Surely, they’re more likely to heed the lesson through direct experience over second hand transmission. ”

Roshan