Teenager Adam Mikhael Mohamad Taufik has been going on camping trips since he was nine years old and he’s always excited when there’s talk about a future trip with his parents and three siblings.
Adam loves the outdoors and he enjoys these trips because he gets to be in nature while spending quality time with his loved ones.
“There are so many activities that I can do on a camping trip that I can’t normally do at home. Outdoor activities like making a fire, exploring caves and swimming in the river, for example. I feel we should try to do these activities and make the most of what we have, while we can,” said the 14-year-old student from Kajang.
The school holidays have begun in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, and it’s a time for lots of enjoyment for children, especially since many outdoor activities and travel had to be halted during the pandemic to keep us all safe.
Many families have spent most of the past two years indoors and since children haven’t been able to play romp around outdoors, many have been spending more time on devices.
While tech gadgets can be useful as learning tools, they can’t replace real-world experiences like hiking, catching butterflies in the park, playing sports or even having picnics.
For Adam’s father, Mohamad Taufik Mohd Sallehuddin, 39, camping is a good activity for his children as it’s not only fun but it is character building.
Camping can teach them resilience, he says.
“Nowadays, people spend too much time in the virtual world, especially on social media. If not managed properly, the impact on their mental and physical health can be detrimental in the long term. Physical interactions with people and being with nature are important for our children as they grow up.
“It will allow children to create meaningful emotional connections with people and also with nature. We also need to teach our kids how to protect, respect and look after Mother Nature. Interacting with nature is part of our fitrah (innate nature),” shared Mohamad Taufik, a research manager at a KL-based oil and gas company.
Mohamad Taufik says camping has helped Adam and his siblings to learn basic survival skills like learning how to set up a tent, cut wood chips and start a fire.
“My kids had learnt most of these skills in their scouts’ activities and nature classes. So, when we go camping, they put these skills into practice.> From page 1
“Based on my observation, children – when they are in nature, without the technology distractions – are much calmer and relaxed. They will instinctively know how to entertain themselves and connect with nature,” said Mohamad Taufik.
Adam’s family has been to various campsites such as Lubuk Merekek in Endau Rompin National Park in Johor, Payung Getaway in Cherating, Pahang, Draco Nature Camp in Tapah and Kem Tasik Biru (Blue Lake Camp) in Jasin, Melaka.
Adam helps his father erect the tents on each trip while his younger siblings will help their mother, homemaker Azni Zulkifli, 39, set up the outdoor “kitchen” where they set up camp.
“Most of the time, Ayah will choose campsites near a river, waterfall or beach because we enjoy playing in the water. Before nightfall, we’d accompany Ayah to gather logs, branches and twigs to set up a small campfire to cook marshmallows to make s’mores,” explained Adam, who is homeschooled.
Mohamad Taufik gives his children these simple tasks to do to build their confidence and also character. He feels that in their early years, the focus should be on character building and instilling good values which will lay a strong foundations for them as they grow older.
“Sometimes we as parents tend to be a little bit overprotective and maybe underestimate our kids’ capabilities. However, if they are guided, with some supervision, they can independently do all sorts of chores and tasks,” he says.
Doing simple activities like reading, cooking, chopping firewood or sitting around a campfire together as a family also creates great memories that will be cherished, he says.
Mohamad Taufik, who was raised in Kampung Kebun Baru in Hutan Melintang, Perak considers himself a kampung (village) boy, and though they live in the city now, he wants his children to have some of the experiences that he enjoyed and learnt from as a child, such as being outdoors.
“I completed my primary school and lived with my grandparents in the kampung.
“I used to help my grandmother to make Malay delicacies which were sold around the neighbouring villages to earn some extra pocket money.
“It was a typical, simple kampung life just like what you read about in Datuk Lat’s Kampung Boy cartoons but the experience and the skills that I gained have shaped me,” he said. Preparation required
Camping outdoors sounds fun, but Mohamad Taufik admits a family campout requires a lot of preparation.
“Our first camping was in Hutan Lipur Sungai Sendat in Batang Kali, Selangor in 2016. It was an adhoc plan, so we were not well prepared. The night in the jungle was pitch black, and we didn’t bring enough camping lights. On top of that, it rained heavily, and we could not sleep properly as our tent was wet! What a memorable first camping experience!,” he shares.
Over the years, we have learnt from our experiences to be better prepared for our trips.
“We now have a few ‘camping boxes’ that have all the equipment we need. So these days, we just need to pick up the boxes whenever we are going on a camping trip,” he says.
Family camping with four “always-hungry kids” can also be challenging, he shares.
“So it’s essential to prepare enough food for the whole trip,” Mohamad Taufik says.
On each trip, the family travels with two tents and a make-shift shelter which serves as a kitchen and common area.
Other must-haves are first aid kit, rubbish bag, ropes, and tool box. And don’t forget foldable chairs, power banks and portable fire pits.
Mohamad Taufik says camping has taught his children about responsibility, teamwork and it has also made them appreciate the spirit of family togetherness.
Before each trip, his kids will be responsible for packing their own clothes and camping essentials. They also ensure their lights and portable fans are fully charged.
“Normally, before going camping, we will have a family discussion with our kids. We will let them know about the type of campsite that we will be going to, what kind of activities can be done, the dos and the don’ts while we are out camping and so on.
“These discussions are important to set their expectations right before we set out because different campsites have different atmospheres, geographical setup (jungle, river, waterfall or beach), facilities and challenges and we will need to adapt accordingly,” he explained.
Due to the pandemic, Mohamad Taufik and his family have also been staying indoors mostly. Apart from their online classes, the children did chores, and activities like science experiments, gardening and archery at home. But they are looking forward to planning at least one trip during the holidays.
“We still try as much as possible to avoid big crowds because of the current pandemic situation. But we love travelling because we believe that going to different places will create special memories, give us different experiences and expand our perspective, especially for our kids. As the old Malay adage goes, jauh perjalanan, luas pemandangan (the further you travel, the more experience you will gain),” he concludes.