How to Raise an Adventurous Daughter

We heard it from the pros… PARENTS! And we found some inspiring themes throughout their answers. Check out what they told us about how they raised their adventurous daughters.

Lindy Cochran Kelley, Olympian and Mother of Coach and World Cup skier Jess Kelley

Coach Jess Kelley and her mom, Lindy have been playing in the mountains together since Jess was a baby.

“I have to go back to my mom and dad, for their direction when I was growing up. This time frame predates Title Nine. Women couldn’t run in the Boston Marathon because we were “too weak”. There were very few opportunities for women in sports. In high school we had 2 sports we could participate in, basketball and softball. My parents thought it was important to be outside, playing and exploring. My 2 sisters, brother and myself along with other kids in Richmond would meet at our house or down in the village (a mile away) and play soccer or baseball. We explored the outdoors on horseback or hiking.

My dad was an innovator. He had us running and exercising, when women usually did very little in the form of outdoor activities. He made a rope tow in the back yard so we could ski every day if we wanted.

My relationship with Jess was a continuation of what I grew up with… get outside and be active… all the time. She was always involved in some sport, whether soccer, tennis, skiing, playing baseball in the backyard, horseback riding, hiking. She stayed active, that was how I raised an adventurous daughter.”

Robert Mann, Father of Coach and Mountain Guide Lindsay Mann

Our lead Backcountry Guide, Lindsay Mann and her dad Robert Mann on Denali, where Lindsay was a guide for many years.

“I am the father of two adventurous adult daughters. When my children were born, I was an avid skier, sailor, bike rider and occasional hiker. My intended desire, share my passion for skiing with my children and raise skilled and competent skiers.

The process started shortly after birth when Lindsay or Lara would lie on the changing table and we would play a game where I would move their legs to simulate walking, running, biking and skiing. I would say “first you walk, then you run, then you bike and then you skiiiiii.” With that they would laugh and skiing was associated with fun.

As soon as the kids learned to walk, we became fans of the toddler park. I put a bike seat on my bike and would take Lindsay and then Lara to the local park. Unlike most parents, I played in the toddler park along side with the kids. We did balancing activities, agility, exposure to heights and lots of other activities that made them comfortable with exposure to risk. We had fun and over time we visited every toddler park in a 20 mile radius.

Lindsay started skiing at around 14 months. Lara at 18 months, a function of her having a July birthday. Initially it was 45 to 60 minutes of playing on snow with clip on skis. By age 3 they had real skis and boots and real skills development started. We quickly became a ski family, going most every winter weekend and by age 9 the kids started ski racing. Not because we had any grand goals of competitive achievement, but rather as a background for the development of the skills necessary to become a good skier. As the children got older, 8 and beyond, we did an annual ski vacation to the west where I could expose them to steep skiing and big mountains. I pushed them to ski the most technical lines that their abilities would permit. There were the occasional tears or cry that I can’t ski that, but they would overcome their fear and look back up the hill with satisfaction that it really was not that hard.

And then there was their first heli-ski experience. Heli-skiing was something I had done for years and when they turned 13, I took them for a day of heli-skiing. At the time, they were serious ski racers, and I wanted them to know that there is more to skiing than ski racing. On Lindsay’s first heli day, we went skiing with a group of 9 other people, all professional ski instructors from Japan. They were horrified at the thought that they were going to share their dream heli-ski experience with a little girl. But Lindsay did great and by the end of the day they were impressed.

So how did I raise an adventurous daughter? First, I raised an adventurous child. Boy or girl, it would not have made any difference. We were going to play outside. They could see that my love of the mountains, sea and physical activity were real. And we enjoyed doing those activities together. We did not talk about risk or failure, though like all parents, I frequently cautioned them to be careful. I would say that ski racing does have a way of teaching young people about how to handle losing, the rewards and dangers of taking risk, and the benefits of perseverance.

For me, the most rewarding aspect of this parenting process was that my daughters achieved more than I could have imagined in the mountains. As they developed skills that exceeded mine, they exposed me to new adventures and expanded my horizons beyond what I could have imagined when we started down this road that started by changing a dirty diaper.”

Arin St Cyr, Mother of Campers Maci and Franci St Cyr

A St Cyr Sunday Family Funday hiking in July to ski Sacajawea peak in the Bridger mountains.

“Jeff and I raised adventuresome daughters by spending a lot of time outside with them! We are fortunate that our girls have always loved doing what we do. We try to expose them to everything we love like horses, hiking, fishing, surfing, and of course skiing. A Sunday family funday at our house entailed taking them hiking with their skis and boots strapped to their backpacks in July to ski Sacajawea peak in the Bridger mountains. We played a lot of Eye Spy with My Little Eye as we made the trek up the mountain. They were only 10 and 7 years old and they loved it! I can remember one time when the wind was blowing so hard my youngest daughter was almost knocked over. She was very scared, but we worked through it and by the time we got to the snow and she started skiing she forgot all about being afraid. Both girls had skied the Big Couloir at Big Sky resort by the age of 8!

The most fortunate thing that happened to our girls at a young age was finding Keely’s Camp. Keely’s Camp coaches have been the best role models for both of our girls! Both daughters have enjoyed the ski racing camps at Mt. Hood and the Backcountry camps at Bell Lake Yurt and Iceland.

We have always taught our daughters that there isn’t anything they can’t do. We have told them to always work hard and not to fear failure! You fail if you never try!”