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July 22, 2022
How do we teach kids to handle risk? Not by cradling them too tightly, but yet we also want them to be safe, and risk, the chance for loss or gain, is an unavoidable part of life.
All actions or inactions involve risk, but risky doesn’t mean reckless. In some cases the seemingly risk-free way today creates long term secondary risk. If you try to avoid accidents by staying in bed then health will deteriorate rapidly. Money left ‘safely’ on bank deposit since the financial crisis of 2008 has lost a third of its value to inflation.
Risk may be making a financial investment or asking a potential partner for a date, but avoiding any risk is not possible and can lead to diminished lives. And I know we become more risk averse as we get older, I certainly have, and I shudder at some of the things I did in my youth, but I’m conscious that the boys are becoming more daring and I’d like them to experience extreme activities in a safely managed way.
Learning to assess the degree of risk and the value of reward is a key life skill, as is developing the courage to act (if the risk is deemed worthwhile).
The twins are nearly eight and COVID has shuttered their lives these last two years. We wanted to give them an outdoor adventure trip where they could test their own abilities in as safe an environment as reasonably possible.
We also wanted to swap the risk of airport queues and cancelled flights for the risk of dull wet weather and expensive awful food. Yes, we were UK bound! It didn’t turn out that way as our ten day Welsh road trip spanned the hottest UK weather on record and we found excellent artisan restaurants at half London prices. 😁 Result! We’d packed all-weather gear but lived in shorts and t-shirts for the entire trip.
Being just shy of eight years old disallowed certain activities because of the providers insurance, so canyoning was out, but axe-throwing and archery lessons were in. James got the most axes on target but he’s not getting a set for Christmas. Snowdonia whitewater rafting was in ✅. High-speed tobogganing through the longest treetops course was thrilling along with the zip wires and assault courses.
Tombstoning off cliffs on the Pembrokeshire coast and snorkeling through kelp forests, then sea-kayaking to remote coves for swimming into prehistoric caves was memorable.
Mountaineering and abseiling challenged all of us, and would be a great way to keep fit and supple if we lived in the alps. Mountain biking through the Brecon Beacons gave the boys off-road cycling in a stunning landscape.
We stayed in a castle for a night – there are still loads of castles in Wales, though this one wasn’t quite Game of Thrones. Our half day bush-crafting showed them many new ways to become an arsonist, how to build dams like a beaver, and make rope from foraged plants.
We took a restful day with a cultural visit to a stately home and made an island trip to sea bird colonies, spotting seals and dolphins along the way.
We ended our last afternoon with a gentle canoe trip down the river Wye with the boys rescuing our boats when they were jammed in the waterfall rocks. Each day’s activities were the ‘best-ever’ for the boys so all in all a successful trip that left parents needing a holiday.
Michael Van Clarke
We phoned Adventure Tours UK three weeks beforehand to create the trip, then left them to book everything and put the whole itinerary on their handy app. Based in Wales, they organise trips UK wide.
February 04, 2023
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