I’ve been reading and listening to podcasts lately about raising boys. One theme I hear again and again, especially in this challenging digital/tech era, is about intentional adventure. Seek out adventure and challenges your boys will find exhilarating. Explore new and different places that invigorate the senses so your child will experience adrenaline and joy through the real world instead of online.
Mitch and I are adventure junkies, so this plays right into our desire to explore (from rut to the ledge, always). And, our recent weekend in Wales was a heartwarming confirmation that trying something new, exciting and even a little bit scary can bring out the best in your kid and make for a memorable, bonding moment for the family unit.
We set out for the southwest coast of Wales, known for its pastoral, rolling farmland and rugged coastline. It’s not a highly touristed area and we were thankful the roads were not jammed considering their narrow size! Surfing, sea kayaking and coasteering are just a few of the popular sports in this region, and we decided to give coasteering a try since it required no lessons and virtually no skill. However, you can’t have a fear of heights and need to be a decent swimmer, but we had that covered.
When you first approach the coast, it can seem a bit daunting. The wind whips strongly and the whitecaps crashing on the beach are several feet high. Thankfully, after we donned our full wetsuits, gloves and helmets, we headed to a calmer bay around the corner and slid into the chilly water. The kit kept us comfortable and safe against the rocks and after a short swim we began climbing up just a few feet at the time to practice our jumps into the water. The instructors were very encouraging, leading us to the perfect leaping spots and challenging everyone to try silly jumps, spins and even flips!
Eventually, we advanced to the higher ledges and my heart began to race. From about 40 feet in the air, the water below looked alarmingly distant! Luke was eager to jump first and showed no fear as he got a running start and soared through the air for several seconds before splashing below. He resurfaced and let out a whooping yell that echoed across the bay – WOOHOO!!!! It was then that I relaxed and remembered why we had come. His scream of elation translated to me as a rush of joy…and maybe even a release of stress or fear he’s been carrying the past few months.
His pure excitement after a “dangerous” leap into the ocean reminded me that boys are wild at heart. At his age, he craves independence and constantly wants to try new things, many times without our help. It’s scary for me as a mom to let go, and sometimes I don’t think he’s ready to take that next step. But, I realized if we can offer him adventures with a thrill like roller coasters, off roading quad bikes or coasteering—albeit under the guidance of experts—he can release that inner daredevil and feel accomplishment and joy without going to look for it in a video game or other worse habits down the road.
Coasteering was just part of our weekend in Wales. We visited quaint seaside towns like St. Davids and Tenby, hiked the coastal cliff path, practiced flying the drone for some dramatic footage and visited Pembroke castle where Henry VII was born. But coasteering was the collective highlight for all of us and renewed my assurance that we should seek out adventure wherever possible.