In the same way as ski mountaineer Greg Hill’s parents instilled in him the spirit of adventure and love for the natural world, we can do the same. Even if we don’t have kids, or if they’ve long left the nest, we can support organizations and events that achieve the same.
Passing on the passion
I am always a little conflicted around Christmas, societal norms tell me I should be buying gifts for my children. My wife is great, she gets them the things they need and a few of their wants. When I reflect back to the gifts I received as a child, it was the gifts of adventure that I liked best. The gift of a season’s pass at my local ski resort, and the gifts of the gear to ski with. Or the gifts my parents gave without realizing that they were giving them. I have been following their footsteps in this regard.
Our family home was far up a dirt road in Quebec, Canada. Our nearest neighbor was at least one kilometer away, and our house surrounded by deciduous forests. I have very few memories about the town we lived near, most are centered around backyard adventures. I can remember family moments hiking up Round Top mountain, cooking bannoch bread on a stick over an open fire. My parents facilitated my adventures by showing me what was possible. We canoe camped, hiked a lot, downhill skied, Nordic skied, the activities were endless. I cannot thank my parents enough for bringing me up appreciating the outdoors.
Having sparked this thirst for the outdoors, it was impossible to slow it. As I grew, so did my adventurous spirit. I was encouraged to go camping with friends, and the school I went to had an amazing outdoor education component. Soon, I was introduced to rock climbing and it became my gateway sport to mountaineering.
I was captivated by the rewards that came from overcoming the challenges; the intense feeling of accomplishment that followed any climb completed. This feeling was unparalleled and I began searching for it more and more. The challenges evolved from rock to ice, from cliffs to mountains. Soon my whole life was centered around outdoors and adventures.
These moments brought me a source of happiness and overcoming these challenges taught me a lot about myself. Through training hard, working towards harder and harder goals I developed more and more self-confidence. Time in nature taught me patience and an appreciation for nature.
Yet, I accessed all these wild places in a big truck, from a snowmobile or a helicopter. Solo drives to trailheads had me thinking about my impacts. Raising my kids started my questions on how I was living and what legacy I was passing on to them.
There was no profound “aha” moment, but my “eco-anxiety” grew till all of a sudden I needed to change. I have looked at all the aspects of my life and decided to work on what I can. I eat less meat, consider all my lifestyle choices, and drive an electric car. I fly less, and adventure locally a lot more. All of these choices resonate into a better feeling overall and a knowledge that I am trying to be better.
Raising my kids I have been trying to pass on the passion for adventure, and the appreciation for the outdoors. I know how much I have gained from my experiences and can only hope that they get as much from nature as I have.
While out with my kids I truly try and give them the best experiences, keeping the rewards as a priority, aiming for enjoyment, not exhaustion. Showing them the potential, yet letting them come to it on their own terms. Forcing children can easily turn them off activities so I simply encourage and open the doors, hoping they will follow.