All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

- JRR Tolkien



Jan 04, 2017

Young, Intrepid and Invincible: A Guide to Dealing with Worrywart Parents

It’s normal: parents worry. As the mother of two fearless children, I am not new to being on the verge of a nervous breakdown while my kids are off doing high-risk activities around the world.


Bonnie Maggio

This article originally appeared in print, in the 2014 Spring issue

In the summer of 2013, my son Callum Strong took part in the British Universities Kayak Expedition. Callum and a team of 4 other gung-ho young kayakers headed off to Pakistan for the summer to tackle some exciting rivers.

Was I worried? You bet!

So, if you are heading off into the great outdoors with your mates on an exciting expedition, here are some tips on how to help your parents survive your adventures:


Chances are that your mates’ parents will be as worried as yours. Put them in touch and help them establish a Mothers’ support group like we did for the BUKE expedition. We reck- oned that keeping in touch with each other would probably be easier than keeping in touch with the team, and if anything went wrong we would be able to join forces to help if required, or at the very least moan to each other or send Valium. (It was called the Mothers’ support group because it seemed to be mostly the Mums who were worried. If the Dads were worrying, they certainly were not letting on…)


The BUKE expedition was initially planned for a part of northern Pakistan where, three weeks before the eventual start-date, the Taliban would kill 9 climbers. Already apprehen- sive about the choice of destination, we were hugely relieved when the team decided to shift the expedition to Ethiopia. It was the comparison by Bonnie Maggio between the two places that made it palatable that they were going to spend the summer exploring the wilds of Ethiopia tackling previously un-kayaked rivers (un-kayaked for a reason one wonders…) whilst brushing shoulders with crocs and hippos. Phew.


Gone are the days when you can take off and be incommunicado for weeks or months on end. I have always said I don’t mind what my kids are up to or if I won’t see them for months on end just as long as they let me know what they are doing and roughly where they are (hint: this works equally well with girlfriends as it does with mothers). Try to communicate often, but spare us the graphic photos and grid references that lead us wide-eyed on google Earth.

Keep it simple. A text along the lines of “still alive and in Ethiopia” works well enough. You can tell us all about it and how scary it was when you are safely at home sitting at the kitchen table having a cup of tea. The exception to this is we do like to know if you injure yourself, in case we need to start saving for unexpected costs. If you end up in hospital with Malaria, please tell your mother (yes, i’m talking to you Callum).


Giving your parents jobs makes them feel less helpless and also minimizes worrying time. During the BUKE expedition, various parents helped out with medical advice, communications updates, and even arrangements for transportation and security on the ground.


While my son was off in the wild, I made the mistake of expressing my anxieties to my own mother. “Now you know how I felt,” she said, reminding me of the 6 weeks she didn’t hear from me when I took off, aged 18, hitchhiking to Turkey with my best friend. Mum very nearly got Interpol to find us. And then there was the time I set off to cross the Atlantic on a yacht with a bunch of friends in less than perfect weather and didn’t get in touch for weeks. Or, the real jewel in the crown of parental torture, the time I decided to go exploring from the Caribbean to the south Pacific on a hand built tiny catamaran with a mad French anthropologist that I hardly knew.

So bear in mind that you may be a parent one day and the likelihood is that the adventure gene will be passed on and you, too, may spend long spells of anxiety whilst your offspring are out there risking life and limb in the pursuit of adventure.


However scared or anxious your parents are, they are most likely still amazingly proud of you and they wouldn’t want it any other way. I know I am, and I look forward to hearing my son’s plans for the next expedition, although I would like for my daughter to get back in one piece from her season in the Alps first! Get out there and have FUN!

This article was part of the Newbie section in Issue 4 of our print magazine.

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Adventure Travel

Jul 31, 2018

Kayaking’s Elite Return to India at the Malabar River Festival

During the week of July 18th to 22nd, the Malabar River Festival returned to Kerala, India with one of the biggest cash prizes in whitewater kayaking in the world.



Brooke Hess

A $20,000 purse attracted some of the world’s best kayakers to the region for an epic week battling it out on some of India’s best whitewater.

The kayaking events at Malabar River Festival were held on the Kuttiyadi River, Chalippuzha River, and the Iruvajippuzha River, in South India on the Malabar Coast. The festival was founded and organized by Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera of GoodWave Adventures, the first whitewater kayaking school in South India.

Photo: Akash Sharma

“Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there”

One of the goals of the festival is to promote whitewater kayaking in the state of Kerala and encourage locals to get into the sport. One of the event organizers, Vaijayanthi Bhat, feels that the festival plays a large part in promoting the sport within the community.  “The kayak community is building up through the Malabar Festival. Quite a few people are picking up kayaking… It starts with people watching the event and getting curious.  GoodWave Adventures are teaching the locals.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

Vaijayanthi is not lying when she says the kayak community is starting to build up.  In addition to the pro category, this year’s Malabar Festival hosted an intermediate competition specifically designed for local kayakers. The intermediate competition saw a huge turnout of 22 competitors in the men’s category and 9 competitors in the women’s category. Even the professional kayakers who traveled across the world to compete at the festival were impressed with the talent shown by the local kayakers. Mike Dawson of New Zealand, and the winner of the men’s pro competition had nothing but good things to say about the local kayakers. “I have so much respect for the local kayakers. I was stoked to see huge improvements from these guys since I met them in 2015. It was cool to see them ripping up the rivers and also just trying to hang out and ask as many questions about how to improve their paddling. It was awesome to watch them racing and making it through the rounds. Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there.”

Photo: Akash Sharma


“It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake”

Vaijayanthi says the festival has future goals of being named a world championship.  In order to do this, they have to attract world class kayakers to the event.  With names like Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Nicole Mansfield, Mike Dawson, and Gerd Serrasolses coming out for the pro competition, it already seems like they are doing a good job of working toward that goal! The pro competition was composed of four different kayaking events- boatercross, freestyle, slalom, and a superfinal race down a technical rapid. “The Finals of the extreme racing held on the Malabar Express was the favourite event for me. It was an epic rapid to race down. 90 seconds of continuous whitewater with a decent flow. It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake.” says Dawson.

Photo: Akash Sharma

The impressive amount of prize money wasn’t the only thing that lured these big name kayakers to Kerala for the festival. Many of the kayakers have stayed in South India after the event ended to explore the rivers in the region. With numerous unexplored jungle rivers, the possibilities for exploratory kayaking are seemingly endless. Dawson knows the exploratory nature of the region well.  “I’ve been to the Malabar River Fest in 2015. I loved it then, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to come back. Kerala is an amazing region for kayaking. In the rainy season there is so much water, and because the state has tons of mountains close to the sea it means that there’s a lot of exploring and sections that are around. It’s a unique kind of paddling, with the rivers taking you through some really jungly inaccessible terrain. Looking forward to coming back to Kerala and also exploring the other regions of India in the future.”


For more information on the festival, visit: http://www.malabarfest.com/

Subscribe here: https://www.outdoorjournal.com/in/subscribe/

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