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The Big Wild Challenge is for families – especially those who like to have fun!

Hi there CPAWS followers! My name is Max. A bit about me if you’re curious: I’m in my late 30s and three awesome little girls ages eight, seven, and four call me Dad. I recently joined the CPAWS team in early May, when they were in the near-final stages of getting an exciting fundraising initiative called the Big Wild Challenge (BWC) ready to launch.

The concept of the BWC is both fun and simple. You organize an outdoor activity/challenge (usually something you’re passionate about, i.e. camping, kayaking, biking etc.), you get people to sponsor your challenge – which helps raise money for CPAWS (also awesome), and then you go out and do your challenge and have tons of fun doing it. Did I mention there’s a chance to win great prizes from Churchill Wild and MEC? (OK, I’m a marketing guy – had to get a shameless plug in here at least once right?)

Bruce Kirkby, outdoor adventurer and Stand-up Paddle Boarder helped us kick-start the BWC by doing a Vancouver to Victoria paddle board trip (read about it here). I followed his adventure, and it inspired me to do something with my family for the BWC – but WHAT?

Just as my wife and I were sitting around after dinner looking at the (rapidly filling up) summer calendar, she got “the call”. She’s been on a waiting list for surgery to repair a muscle tear and was now (finally) going to have that procedure – but at the start of the summer. Whoa…wait…she’s going to be on crutches for 4-6 weeks? Suddenly our list of ideas for the BWC seemed impossible and impractical – wherever we picked, Dad was going to be going solo with the kids.

What’s the expression – when they hand you lemons, you should make lemonade? Enter the day trip.

Why daytrips are great

If you’re a parent and you’ve been camping with kids, you know that the majority of the work is organizing the food and clothes for your kids for the overnights. Packing your car with all the gear your need for (in my case) a family of five is a dark art that usually involves a few failed attempts, a few curses (kids, cover your ears…Daddy and the car are having a disagreement) and finally a mental breakdown followed by bungee cords. Hey – you have to be creative it get it all in there.

A daytrip lightens the organizational burden but retains all of the outdoor benefit. You get outside, your do something physical, you go somewhere/see something new maybe….but in terms of packing, you basically are only packing a lunch and the clothes you need for the day. Also if you don’t have a lot of time off from work, it allows you to give your kids great experiences that can be done in a day.

Get your flashlights, kids!

With a day trip in mind, I sat down with the girls and we decided that our BWC would take place in Gatineau Park, and to make it a bit more challenging, we’re going underground. We’ll be exploring the Lusk Caves in Gatineau Park as our BWC (click here to read more about these caves and what makes them so awesome).

I registered our little challenge on the BWC site and shared our participant page with friends and family to get our fundraising going. We were really surprised at the quick and generous response – we’ve already reached our fundraising goal for CPAWS!

Why do a Big Wild Challenge?

One of the reasons I’m doing a Big Wild Challenge with my girls is to help counteract the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder. From my own experience, I can say we definitely had less “screen” time (TV, computer, iPod, Nintendo) when I was a kid, and much more time was spent outdoors playing. I was lucky my grandparents had a cottage on a lake that was within a half-hour drive from the city, where we often went in the summer and I got to be out on the water a fair bit. My kids don’t have that same opportunity I had – so how do I give them the same appreciation I developed for being outside and having authentic experiences in nature?

I think a “keep it simple” approach is key to spending more time outdoors as a family. A walk on a nearby nature trail, a pick-up game of soccer at a park field, a bike ride around the block – the more you’re outside, the more you want to be outside. One of the fun things about being a parent is we get to influence the types of positive activities our kids are exposed to.

I saw the BWC as an opportunity to do something like this with my girls, have a Father-Daughter bonding experience, and help a good cause at the same time.

I totally encourage other parents to consider organizing your own “little” BWC with your family – you can keep it simple, and keep it fun! You and your kids will have a blast.

Register your Big Wild Challenge today!