being thousands of miles away from home, in a new city with very few friends, no family and even less connection to anything familiar or comforting, my heart began to get heavy. i found myself longing for family. i began thinking about my dad and the time we had spent together a few months back when i was last home. it occurred to me that his place and importance in my life was deeper than just being my father, but was the foundation of who i was, why i loved the outdoors and why i found peace in being near the water.
with this realization and father’s day steadily approaching i thought, there has to be others out there who have similar stories. over the past year, i have been exposed to amazing women making waves and leaving trails in the outdoor world for themselves, for others. women sharing this beauty and pull towards being emerged into nature and finding appreciation for the outdoors with all those that they cross paths with.
i set out to create a conversation online, where people would share, tell and pay tribute to those who took the time to expose them to something that had become more than just a past time, but a way of life. what i discovered was that this story is harder to tell than i imagined. sometimes it’s pretty and perfect. sometimes it’s a little messy with self discovery explored through the escape to the outdoors or a mother who made sure her daughter was the strongest she could be in the absence of a father figure. sometimes it was just as it lays out on paper, a dad, a daughter, and memories made outdoors. what i also discovered was the importance of a dad and daughter relationship and how this really does impact a girl’s life.
regardless what the specific details are or the journey traveled to get there were, the beauty of it all is that each of us has a story, a memory many moments that have defined us into the person we are now.
here are a few stories that i was able to collect from a few good women who commit time to being outside, exploring nature and have a dad or dad like figure to thank for bringing this to life. for those who don’t share this same exact scenario, remember that family, love and heroes come in all forms and non-traditional figures who have taken the time to teach and share are just as lovely as the original assigned to the task.
my family was never really one that got caught up in traditions, but we had one we never broke: the annual beach camping trip for the first two weeks of summer. each year we’d pack our two boards on to the roof racks of our car and escape, just the four of us. it was on those trips that my father taught my sister and me to surf. he wasn’t any pro, but he knew the basics, and my sister and i took turns jumping onto a board held steady in the water by my father’s hands.
i will never forget what it feels like to lie on a board, crashing over waves twice the size of five year old me, knowing i was completely safe as long as those two hands were holding on to it. he taught me what a “set” looked like as it rolled in, and would without warning spin the board around to push me onto a wave he had just decided i should paddle for: often when it was almost already beneath me. though he would yell “paddle! paddle now!” i knew i never had to, because those calls were always followed a push so strong i was guaranteed to glide on to the face of any wave he directed me at. then i had to figure the rest out myself.
my dad‘s guidance is something i value greatly, and his opinions i hold over that of anyone else’s. i trusted him when he spun that board around moments before waves that were way too big, like i trust him now when he tells me i “absolutely” should take the job i’m not sure i’m ready for. i trusted my dad when he told me i’d get the next one after i’d been dumped by the last, just like i trust him now when he tells me i’ll come out the other side, “because you always do”.
he lined me up, he prepared me the best he could, then he sent me shooting off, and trusted me to handle the rest. he gave me the guidance, stability and confidence to learn how to handle the rough on my own.
he picked me up and threw me on enough waves for me to learn that although i couldn’t surf them all, being dumped by them wasn’t going to stop me getting the next one. my dad‘s steady hand gave me the confidence to try and try again. he trusted me to trust myself.
to draw a life lesson from some amateur surfing lessons from my dad when i was a kid seems tenuous. but those warm days out on the water with him taught me that the waves would keep on coming, and as long as they did, i had to trust that i was as prepared as i could be, and that i could handle them.
and on that mountain of water that i was sure i was unprepared for; in that moment between my dad‘s hands and standing on my own feet, i was terrified. i trusted my dad until i had to trust myself. and so i learnt to do just that.
those summers were full of hours on the ocean, too convinced that my dad could protect me from absolutely anything to worry about how dangerous the sea could be. i look back now and remember only the pure happiness – pure love – i felt on that board, legs splashing in the ocean, looking past the two giant hands on the front of my foamie to the horizon, trying to see what my dad told me we were looking for. i look back now and know i couldn’t have cared less if we didn’t catch a single wave, because just sitting out there in the ocean with him, listening to the waves lap at the board as he guided us over them, are probably the best memories i’ll ever have with my dad.
my outdoor hero is most definitely my dad. john patnik is the quintessential miami boater and fisherman. continuing his experience growing up, my dad exposed our family to the ocean and all of its magic. without my dad and our times spent out on the boat together, i would never know the majesty of swimming around giant brain coral while angelfish aim their masked faces up towards the waves, or what it feels like to be on board a boat, having hit a school of mahi-mahi, the sound of spools of line screaming while the metallic smell of fish blood arose from the deck. so many life lessons can be learned on board a boat, whether for fun, diving, or fishing, and my dad found a creative, active way to teach my brother and me some of life’s most valuable lessons.
he is the definition of the american dream, knowing that if you work hard enough and set your mind to something, you control your destiny. going through life knowing this, and really putting my heart into what and who i care about, has been a huge part of who i am because of my dad.
the greatest life lesson that my father imparted on my brother and me would have to be that being a team player and doing the right thing, are the most important values you can have. whether in your family, relationships, or at work, the concept really fits everywhere.
if i could tell my dad, my hero, one thing, it would be, thank you for boundless life experiences that you blessed our family with and i am proud to be your daughter.
shared by amanda patnik, @actionbronte
i was born with a love for the sea. my dad is a surfer and waterman, my mom a beach bunny. i am thankful for his passion to the sea and that he has instilled that in me since i was a little one. whenever we could, we were camping and enjoying the outdoors.
the best memories are the ones that you are free and enjoying the elements nature gives us.
it is a gift i cherish. it is the one place i feel most connected to.
for me, there’s one moment that really stands out, and it’s fishing with my dad. growing up in hot, flat west texas, the outdoor scene was scarce. from as early as i can remember, there were always a few times a year that as a family we’d escape to a lake nearby for a couple days to camp out and fish. initially, it was with my extended family and eventually narrowed down to just the folks and my brothers.
my dad would sneak away after everyone went to bed or before anyone else woke up to find a spot on the water to have all to himself. being in tune with all things dad did, i’d tag along baiting the hook, scaring off the fish with my one million questions and wiggling around to keep awake + the chill out. when i think of my dad, i always go back to these days on the lake. where i learned that
in the dark fishing escapes stand out to me the most because it is the first moment that i can remember really being outside with my dad and seeing him in an element that really brought him happiness. a simple escape to the lake, to sit quietly and patiently waiting for the fish to bite and just be in the stillness of nature. that is something that i have been chasing ever since.
if i could tell my dad one thing, it would be thank you for being you. for teaching me that although things may not go exactly how you imagined them to, there’s always something beautiful to be enjoyed and discovered if you take the time to wait for it.
for those of you with a little one looking up to you, do everything you can to be a hero, share your love and passion for the outdoors and make a necessity for taking time for the little things. because through this, the big things are born and the future of your world, and the world we live in depends on it.
Stranded on Land