Hi, my name is Katie and today I'm launching this blog, Raising Rippers, about bringing up adventurous, outdoor kids. Before our first daughter, Pippa (that's her below), was born, a friend of mine gave me the best parenting advice I’ve ever gotten: Start off as you mean to go on. Sandy was raised in Zimbabwe, has lived in African bush camps and now organizes super-swanky safaris, and, with her bush pilot husband, has two intrepid little girls of her own, so anything she says in her crisp, British/Zimbabwe accent concerning adventure parenting has instantaneous cred. What she meant was, whatever you like to do in life, keep doing it once the baby arrives, because otherwise you will become rusty and everything will only seem harder and more complicated.
I decided to make this my mantra and took it as license (with my doctor’s OK) to keep hiking and skiing and traveling throughout my pregnancy, which made childbirth and those early days of parenthood easier and a little less world-rocking, if that’s even possible. Somewhere beneath my sleep deprived, spit-up splattered outer self, the old adventurous me was still there—the one who’d gone fly-fishing three days before the baby was due, the one who liked to mountain bike and climb and travel. I knew she was in there—it was only a matter of mustering up enough courage to let her out, with the baby in tow.
This is easier said than done because kids are nothing if not gear-, labor-, and logistics-intensive. If you want to take a ten-month-old rafting on the San Juan for a week, for example, you will need the world's tiniest lifejacket, and you will need to figure out how to keep the wobbly spastic baby from falling out of the boat into moving water the color of chocolate milk. If you want to travel internationally like you used to do, you will first have to procure a passport, which may entail putting your three-day old baby on the dirty floor of the post office while the passport officer tries to photograph her with her squinchy, newborn eyes open (good luck with that).
Adventure parenting is kind of like training for a very long race: The more you do, and the sooner you start, the easier it will be in the long run. If you slack off or avoid training because you are lazy or daunted, it will be tempting to give up and spend your days pushing a stroller around the mall or calling a morning at the park an “adventure” (though, believe me, I know some days it can feel like one). Chances are decent that you will get pudgy and resentful and will no longer feel like you, at least not the you that you like best.
It’s sort of like building an endurance base: Once you swaddle your five-week-old newborn in a life jacket and bounce across wavy, open water in a Boston Whaler every day for a month, you can reassure yourself with, "well, if I can put Baby X in a lifejacket and drive around in a motor boat every day for a month without her getting shaken baby syndrome, then surely I can climb a 14er with her on my back or ________ “ (fill in your favorite adventure here). Adventure becomes part of your family's muscle memory, and each trip gets easier to organize, more fun, and less fraught with fear that you are going to inadvertently kill the child or yourself.
That’s the idea behind this blog. My hope is that Raising Rippers will become a go-to clearinghouse of ideas and inspirations and practical tips for parents who still rip and want their kids to, too. But it's not just about bagging bragging rights. Given the recent dismal stats about nature-deficit disorder, childhood obesity, and screen time among the little tech junkies, inspiring our children to be active, adventurous stewards of the natural world isn’t just a lifestyle choice—it’s an obligation we have to the health of the next generation and our planet.
Check back often for gear reviews, travel ideas, interviews with seasoned pros, mini-profiles of little rippers, and how-to from parents just like you. And because so much of adventure parenting—well, parenting in general—is trial and error, I encourage you to write in with your own hard-won insights and suggestions.
Thanks for reading and welcome!