Centre for Fathering-Dads for Life’s (CFF-DFL) “Adventure Camp with Dad” (ACD) is an activity-based programme designed to build trust and communication between father and child, whilst nurturing a sense of adventure. Additionally, as an experiential activity that stretches participants and takes them outside their comfort zones, it offers fathers many opportunities to impart values and life skills to their children.

Based on the learning built into this camp, we’ve summarized 9 tips for dads on how to include more adventure-style learning into bonding time with children.

Adventure Builds Trust Rapidly

1. Guard Each Other’s Life!

Dads and kids learn to depend on each other as they go through thick and thin together. Participating in the rock-wall climbing exercise at ACD, a father and his child will take turns to belay one another. This is the process in which either of them will act as an anchor on the ground to prevent his/her partner from falling in the midst of a climb. Nothing beats knowing that your father or child is looking out for you. Find out about rock-wall climbing courses available at the SAFRA Adventure Sports Centre. 

2. Problem-solve as a Team

“All ACD activities help to build trust between a father and child through a shared experience,” says Mr Lee Teck Hong, Head, Programmes and Development, CFF-DFL. “It draws them closer as they work as one.” Grab hold of adventures that engage your hands and minds to make something useful or complete an activity. ACD allows for many opportunities to problem-solve. You need the right tools, and each other to safely and successfully overcome challenges and conquer your fears.

3. Establish ‘Superglue’ Bonds

CFF-DFL Family Life Educator and Coach, Mr Parcsen Loke, offers insights on why tackling physically challenging tasks with your kids can bring you closer to them, “Dads parent in a different way from mums. While mums are mostly nurturing and protective, fathers encourage risk-taking through rough-and-tumble play. When parents roughhouse their kids, the bonding chemical Oxytocin is released.” So, Dads, forward the link to this article to Mum, and enjoy yourselves playing rough and tumble with your children.

Adventure Facilitates Communication

4. Connect over the Great Outdoors

Photo: NParks website

“Kids can get really enthusiastic when they are outside. You’ll get to see an interesting side of them,” says Mr Lee Zi Hao who volunteers with CFF-DFL as a Chief Safety Officer at ACD. “Children tend to make friends more easily outdoors. It helps build up their character.”

Go on a trek with the family or organise one for your friends and their kids. Exploring a forest reserve or visiting a wetland can be thrilling and invigorating. Talk about the landscapes, types of trees, and wildlife all around. For more ideas, visit the National Parks Board website for information on Family Time with NatureParks & Nature Reserves, and Walks & Tours.

5. Impart Life Skills

Explore Pulau Ubin. Point out things and places of interest along the way. Listen to birds and insects as you travel from the jetty to Chek Jawa

Trudging through the uneven terrain across the island can help develop your child’s sense of balance, direction, and navigational skills. Engage him in charting your family’s route to the destination. Asian Detours offers a unique Mangrove Kayaking Adventure and other interesting programmes in and around the island.

Photo: NParks website

6. Try Something New Together

Photo: PA Water Venture Facebook page

“Take up a hobby or sport with your child,” says Mr Lee Teck Hong, Head, Programmes and Development, CFF-DFL. “Don’t just operate from strength or advantage. Try operating from weakness –ignorance even. Try not to be competitive, but just have fun.”

Picking up a skill at the same time will give you a million things to talk about. Share with your child what you always wanted to do and find out what she is interested in. Check out People’s Association’s Water Venture’s offering of courses and activities: kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, power boating, sea rafting, and pedal boating.

Adventure Teaches Values & Resilience

7. Strengths and Struggles

Adventures and challenges often require physical exertion and mental gymnastics. They are opportunities to observe your child, and unearth his talents and abilities. Oftentimes, dads are surprised by how agile their children are at ACD’s Dark Maze activity. Help your child grow to understand his stamina, dexterity and abilities in a safe environment. This will build in him self-awareness and self-efficacy. Affirm his tenacity and determination to excel. Come alongside him when he struggles. Be a role model in perseverance.

Photo: Clip ‘n Climb Facebook Page

In addition to CFF-DFL’s courses, try enrolling for abseiling as a family at the Safra Adventure Sports Centre. Alternatively, visit Clip ‘n Climb and Play at Waka Waka. 

8. Keep Calm and Carry On

Photo: MacRitchie Tree Top Walk, NParks website

Through adventure, your child can learn to deal better with situations that he finds overwhelming. Many children at ACD conquer their fear of heights by completing the High Elements activity with their fathers. Whatever his fears –heights, water or spiders, be patient with your child. Take on the MacRitchie Tree Top Walk, try Stand Up Paddling, or walk past a spider web in a nature reserve. Be ever present. Help him to calm down, assess the situation, and think of how to get out of a predicament. If he cannot conquer his fears immediately, let him know that he can try to do so again at the next session.

9. Perseverance and Affirmation

One of the greatest things about adventure is that it nurtures the ability to get up and try again despite failure. It is not easy to scale a wall or walk across rocky terrain. But, with perseverance, your child can succeed. At ACD, dads are encouraged to actively affirm their children’s efforts through praises, hugs, and high-fives. If your child loves the sea, bring him to fish from a boat/ship. Sometimes, he will land a big catch. Other times, the fish will get away. But, he will learn to bounce back and keep up that fighting spirit.

Raising Champions

In summary, adventure builds trust rapidly between father and child, facilitates communication, and allows for opportunities to teach values and resilience. Be your child’s greatest supporter and cheerleader, whether it is camping or conquering an obstacle course. Let him know that he is a winner in your eyes.

At ACD, fathers and children declare each other as champions. Not only does it encourage the kids, it inspires the dads tremendously. Sign up for ACD for an exciting and fulfilling time with your child!

Based on the CFF-DFL programme: Adventure Camp with Dad

Read the article: Adventure Camp with Dad 

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