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Father's Day: Life Lessons from Time on the Trail with Dad

Posted by Anna Roth at Jun 16, 2017 12:59 PM |

From how to start a fire to developing a sense of wonder, outdoor fathers have a lot to give.

by Jessi Loerch

In my memory, I spent every summer weekend camping with my family. I'm sure we did other things, too, but all I remember is the camping. 

Dad, taking photos in his element. Photo by Jessi Loerch.

My father was a Boy Scout and an outdoor enthusiast who spent years hiking, skiing and backpacking. And he and my mom passed that fondness onto me. 

Dad spent a lot of our time outdoors taking photos—many of which eventually decorated the walls of our home. (A pair a baby saw-whet owls watched over me every night while I slept. Now, those same baby owls watch over my daughter while she sleeps.)

Dad taught me to hike and be comfortable and safe outdoors. I didn't realize how much he had taught me until I was grown and venturing out on my own. He taught me a lot of hard skill (how to start a fire, how to set up a tent) but what I treasure most is the sense of wonder he passed on. He pointed his camera, and his attention, at everything from grand vistas to tiny clumps of moss.

Tiger lilyTiger lily. Photo by Colleen Ponto.

I still think of him every time I see a tiger lily on trail—one of my favorite photos featured a tiger lily blown up to larger than life. Now I camp with my own daughter. And when we're lucky, we get to camp with my parents as well. I know my dad will teach my daughter how to make a fire. And I hope she also picks up his sense of wonder for the world around us. 


Last year in August, Ryan Ojerio, Southwest Regional Manager and father of two set a goal to hike all 7 of the trails WTA has worked on in the southwest region of Washington with his two kids. They had a great time exploring the area, and the variety of trails challenged his kids (in a good way).  


If your kids are older than toddlers but not quite teens, and you're ready to hit a more advanced trail, it's likely they'll be able to keep up with you. Photographer Gabe Grayum tells us why its important to include your kids on your outdoor adventures


Trip reporter dads have gone many extra miles to teach their kids to love the outdoors. Whether they're hiking solo with three little ones, weight-training with their daughter, or simply sharing a father-son weekend, sharing time outside with your kids can be an incredibly rewarding adventure.

Outdoor dads, doing their thing. Photo courtesy Martin Bravenboer.