You Can’t Take It with You!

By on November 15, 2017

30 years ago, my father introduced me to , and I’ve been doing it ever since.

As an active outdoor enthusiast, my friends often recommend activities that they think I should try. And there are plenty of new ones, seemingly every day, that pop up. A couple of current trendy ones that come to mind are ziplining and flyboarding. Some of the more “traditional” ones include bungee jumping, parasailing (not to be confused with paragliding), and alpine slides. While all of these activities are loads of fun and get people outside, my friends often get confused when I tell them they are a bit passive for my taste. What I mean by “passive” is that very little, if any, preparation on my part is necessary to do the activity. The activity itself is quite entertaining and provides a great adrenaline rush, but it doesn’t build a lifetime skill, and I can’t go home and start doing it on my own. I can’t take it with me. Sure, I can take home some great memories and photos, and that’s ok; it just doesn’t provide an ongoing skillset that I can apply to a life-long sport or hobby.

Growing up, my dad put a lot of emphasis on learning outdoor skills. We camped a lot, learned how to cook a meal over a fire, how to endure a heavy storm along the Atlantic coastline, and we learned a lot of cool outdoor sports. While other parents were dragging their kids off to go-kart tracks, amusement parks, and tourist attractions, mine were teaching us how to water ski, surf, snow ski, or paddle a canoe. Whether they knew it or not, what they were giving us was way more valuable than what they could have spent on a weekend trip to Cedar Point. Sure, the “wow” factor wasn’t as great up-front, but the skills we learned up front gave us the foundation to take our activities to any level we wanted, for the rest of our lives. I honestly believe that there is no better gift you can give to your child or yourself. Put the extra effort in to learn the skill and pursue that sport or activity that you always wished you could do. You won’t regret it!

Michael Henderson

About Michael Henderson

Born and bred in Franklin, Pennsylvania, Mike learned about adventure from an early age. Even before he learned to walk, Mike made trips to the Outer Banks with his family, where he slept under his dad’s cot in a canvas tent along the beach. The adventures continued, to the mountains, the Great Lakes, the Pacific Coast, and everywhere in between. Those trips included backpacking into the Grand Canyon and up Mount Rainier, camping in the Rockies in the snow, and skiing right out the front door at home on old alpine skis with cable bindings. Other family activities including canoeing, water skiing, ice skating, bouldering, body surfing, and fishing.
By the 1980s, Mike’s interests expanded to include windsurfing, inline skating, photography, and eventually mountain biking, geocaching, and kayaking. He currently teaches photography at the Venango College of Clarion University, as well as windsurfing, geocaching, camping skills, and cross-country skiing at various local outdoor workshops. He collaborated and managed what has been considered the world’s largest, longest-running, and most successful geotrail, the Allegheny Geotrail. Some of his paddling exploits include two Ocracoke-to-Portsmouth Island crossings; St. Ignace, Michigan-to-Mackinac Island; and multiple excursions along the entire Pennsylvania shoreline of Lake Erie.

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