Here on Team BendRacing over half of us are parents! We are super passionate about getting youth into the outdoors and so we were excited about this blog post from Max King, our newest teammate and fellow Bend parent. Enjoy!
“That was more fun than I expected.” Were the words out of my 9 year old’s mouth after
completing her first Adventure Race last October. You give them hot chocolate, gummy bears,
take out the stuff even the adults don’t like about AR (that makes it AR) like cold water
crossings, slogs through brush for hours carrying our bikes, and kids are going to have a fun day
out adventure racing. At least that’s my theory.
In my head I knew they would have fun doing a kids AR race even if they were apprehensive
about it. A few days before I had asked them if they wanted to do this kids race that Bend
Racing was putting on and both my 9yr old and my 13yr old gave me the normal, “sure, I guess
so” answer. They weren’t so sure about it, but if both of them agreed to it and a friend came
along they were in. The morning of the race my 9yr old was trying to get out of it, “Do I HAVE to
do it?” “Yes” I said. “You committed to it.”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in raising kids to like outdoors activities it’s that you really can’t
push it on them, you have to sit back and observe and wait. Both of my kids run the other way
when I tell them they have to do something outdoors, and I know that’s not the case with all
kids. My success at getting them into outdoor activities has come in the form of showing them
what’s available and letting them decide…and then bribing them occasionally. I want them to
do something active, and I don’t care what it is, but they have to do something.
Take my 13yr old for example. I never thought in a million years he would turn into a runner.
We wanted him to play a sport growing up to have the experience. So, he tried Lacrosse, hated
it. Then he tried soccer, didn’t really warm up to that. He got into middle school and then cross
country became an option. We suggested he might like it because it wasn’t as “team” oriented,
and he balked…at first. Then of course he started to think it through. “Well, I have to do a sport,
and I didn’t like anything else I tried. And I’ve been running a bit and I say I don’t like it but I
kinda do. OK, I’ll try it.” Now he competes in track, cross country, and trail running. Still says he
doesn’t like it, but I’m certainly not forcing him to come to my Tuesday Night Running
Workouts during the off season.
Kids are a conundrum for parents, at least for me, as I’ve never been able to force, or even
suggest for that matter, that they should try outdoor sports. Do I want them to be runners,
bikers, skiers, rock climbers, and adventure racers? You betcha! Am I going to make them do it?
But you put the option on the table in front of them. They see you doing it (and having fun at
it). They have the exposure and the healthy example of someone that finds joy in these hard
endeavors and then, voila, the next thing you know, they know how to take a bearing on a
compass and they’re running off through the woods to their next CP.
Kids say they don’t like doing hard things, but they do. You can see it in their eyes when they
accomplish something they didn’t think they could do. If you’re looking for a way to share these
experiences with your kids check out what we’ll be doing with kids and youth coming up. Bend
Racing will be hosting several kids events this year at BendRacing.com. Coming soon we will be
starting trail running, adventure racing, and orienteering programs through MBSEF.org. Bend
Racing team members such as myself love working with youth in the outdoors. Get in touch
with us if there is something you’re looking for and we’ll point you in the right direction.