Richard Branson said, “If happiness is the goal – and it should be, then adventures should be top priority.”
It is the priority of adventure that makes being out in the bush with a bunch of dads and their kids really exhilarating. Wollondilly River Station, the place for our annual Dads4kids Bush Camp, is set in a deep valley not too far from the famous Wombeyan Caves in the Southern Highlands of NSW.
The camping reserve on the banks of the Wollondilly River is surrounded by National Park and is the home to many kangaroos and other Aussie wildlife.
The best thing about the Wollondilly River Station is the fact that there is no mobile phone reception. This fact alone is enough to send some mothers into spasms of terror. In fact, one of the mothers suggested that we would get more dads and their kids if we had Dads4Kids Bush Camp on the outskirts of a major metropolis. We probably would, but we would get them for all the wrong reasons.
It is my belief that a lot of men and their children are dying inside for lack of adventure. The malaise of ‘the adventure deprived’ is hidden under the proliferation of video games and sports action video simulators. The trouble with these games is that they are just that – simulators!! Young men and boys are living in an epidemic of unreality.
“Stories of extreme gaming are becoming more rampant. There are cases where teens spent as long as 40 hours straight playing games to the complete deterioration of their health.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) recently added a new category for Internet Gaming Disorder. It has been said that there could be about “1 million more diagnosable dependent gamers in America than the number of coke addicts.”
Studies have found surges of dopamine in video gamers is not too different than that of a drug addict, especially with online role-playing games.”
“The average American boy spends 13 hours a week playing video games, compared to less than 5 hours per week for girls. That figure does NOT include time spent watching television. And that’s just the AVERAGE: many boys spend 15 to 20 hours a week, which means on a typical day they’re spending two hours or more in front of the PlayStation or the Xbox or the GameCube. We now have some extraordinary brain research demonstrating that boys who spend more than eight hours a week playing video games which means, the majority of American boys actually atrophy the area of the brain involved in motivation and concentration. They are more likely to prefer video games to reading a book, and more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.”
Dr Stax is right. Something is seriously wrong in our society, and it is affecting our girls as well. Andrew, our wilderness guide, told me some hair-raising stories of the helicopter parents who wouldn’t let their children go on a school bush camp because of the imagined dangers of being in the bush. The reverse is actually the case. The bush is safer than the city.
Not only are the children devoid of the ability to engage in adventure because of screen psychosis, but many fathers are also losing the plot, with their hands firmly attached to the remote control and firmly in the grip of the epidemic of unreality.
So what is the answer?
As we mentioned before – it’s all about leadership. Dad, you have to become your family’s adventure leader.
That’s why taking your kids out in the bush to a place without mobile reception is so important. Just the journey alone will help you as a father to focus. Your children will be delighted because children spell LOVE = TIME.
To enjoy a true adventure with your children, you must accept the challenge of the unknown. The smell of the campfire and the squeals of delight from the children as they cook their flaming marshmallows is music to the ears of the brave fathers who will embrace the challenge.
The poet David Whyte says,
“The price of our vitality is the sum of all our fears”.
Having an adventure with your children, away from the suburbs and into the wilderness is a great way to overcome those fears, and besides, it’s fun.
Make your mind up now to do something adventurous with your children. You can just organise your own ‘do it yourself’ adventure (these are generally the best sort). Half the fun is making the decision with your children and getting ready to go. It is the sort of thing you cannot go wrong doing.
You can also look at those specialists who provide adventures for Dads and their children. There are not many to choose from.
Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker.
Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”
The Fatherhood Foundation Incorporated trading as Dads4Kids is a Harm Prevention Charity listed under Subdivision 30_EA of the Australian Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 with Tax Deductible Status (DGR) for donations