In every young child’s life he/she will be challenged with obstacles, a flowing river of emotions and troubles. Successfully navigating life could be like crossing a bridge over the river. Too many times parents forget to cross the bridges with their children and only tell them how to do it. Some parents don’t know how. Outdoor activities with children can give children the tools required to build and cross their own bridges. Even when you aren’t there to hold their hand, you can give them the greatest tool necessary for their success.

The greatest tool s are self- confidence and a positive- can -do self -image. In a culture dominated by the media and stick- figure lingerie models, many girls grow up with body- perception disorders at the worst and low self -confidence at the best. According to a study by California Parks and Recreation, “Increasing our skill levels and success at a recreation activity, build our self-confidence and esteem which in turn affects other facets of our lives, such as family and work. Studies have shown that active participation in recreational activities helps to improve our self-worth.”

To cross over obstacles and problems in their lives, self esteem is important. As Jose-Vicente Bonet writes in Friend of Yourself: Self Esteem Manual, people with good self-esteem “fully trust in their capacity to solve problems, not hesitating after failures and difficulties. They ask others for help when they need it.” Taking the initiative to develop strong recreational habits in your children is making a positive deposit in your children’s future.

I remember on one occasion ,when I was rock -climbing in Rock Canyon, Provo, Utah, there was this girl who was about 10 years of age climbing one of the routes. She was at the most difficult part and felt like she couldn’t do it. She started crying and pleaded for her father to let her down. Her father gave gentle encouragement. A couple minutes later the girl had reached the top of the climb and her father was lowering her down. When she reached the ground she was beaming from ear to ear. She was smiling and radiated a new -found confidence. She asked her father if she could climb it again. In a period of five minutes, she went from tears to invincible. The two had left by the time I had reached the my destination and I remember looking back as they walked down the path. The father had his arm around his daughter. I haven’t seen them since, but I am sure they were a little closer, than when they arrived.

If one incident can change the attitude and relationship of a father and daughter, what could a parent and child achieve with a lifetime of adventure together? Isn’t it time that we learned to cross bridges with our children instead of telling them how it is done?