This is something I’ve instituted over the last few Summers to ensure that I get to stay close and engaged with them (divorce can push/keep Dads away, you know). And it’s become something that all three of us really look forward to.
I’ve acquired all the camping stuff that one needs (Kathmandu really does have a direct line in to my bank account with their range of quality camping and outdoors equipment) so it’s become quite easy to pack, load and head off on adventures.
This campsite had a pool (the last two sites we’ve stayed at didn’t) which meant that for 3-4 hours each day, my kids pretty much disappeared (under my watchful parental eye – kids around water etc), got wet and made friends. That has been one of the best things about this year: both my kids have learned to take a risk, talk to a stranger, and find a friend. It’s great to see the development.
We discovered all the local ice-cream vendors. We drove North to explore beaches and bays. We discovered the Gold Stamper Battery.
Actually, this was pretty cool. It’s a functional rock crusher that enables the process of gold extraction to take place. The guy, Ashley, was incredibly knowledgeable and very entertaining. I probably enjoyed the tour a bit more than the kids did, but we got to go panning for gold in the creek nearby which made up for it (as far as the kids were concerned). We’d have been successful too, if it wasn’t for the attention span of a certain 8 year old…
We visited The Waterworks on the 309 Road. If you have kids, this is highly recommended. It’s really quirky. Lots of interactive water-driven engineering. Things that move. Things that squirt. Flying Bikes!
There’s a decent waterhole to swim in, BBQ’s to hire, and a cafe on site. We spent about 3 hours there, and could have stayed longer. It was amusing for me to see Miss 8 decide that she wanted to jump in to the waterhole. A 10 minute preparation process all up. Master 11 was too cold, and was feeling pressured to perform. So he didn’t.
It was a toss-up between The Waterworks and the Driving Creek Railway. We chose well I think.
On the way to The Waterworks we stopped off to have a chat with ‘Stu with the pigs’. This is one seriously odd man. He has a herd of 65 pigs that roam. He used to have more but people keep stealing them. (Pignapping)? My daughter wanted to know why his lips were green. I really wish I could have answered that question. I want to say zinc sunblock… I’m just not sure I can.
On another day we drove to Whangapoua Beach for the kids to play in the surf with their boogie boards. It was partially successful. From there to Whitianga to play a round of Minigolf and then back to Coromandel Town via the 309 Road.
Camping for me is a chance to decompress and think. It’s a chance for me to bond further with my kids and hopefully instil some values. I definitely want to develop their independence and sense of adventure. Each year I get to see how much they’ve grown in confidence (swimming, human interaction etc.).
I sometimes question myself as to whether I’m a good father. I try to be.
Last night I received this message from my boy: “Thanks for taking us camping. IT WAS AWESOME!!! Especially the chill out And do whatever part. THANKS!!”.
It puts everything in perspective.