Doing it together…

Here’s an open invitation for all dads (and mums)…

How would you like to spend true quality time with your little ones… shared time in nature,  the change to experience a grand adventure and pass on some invaluable life skills?

We all get sucked up by our day to day lives. In every short 24-hours, we need to squeeze in work, family, friend and community commitments, the daily commute or school runs, personal time and quality sleep. It’s a constant juggling act and whilst all the balls remain in the air, we still need to raise our kids in the best way we can. Give them the love they need, the attention they deserve and the life lessons to help them survive and thrive.

Thanks to my being self-employed, I probably see my two boys (6 & 8 years old) more than the average dad but still, I don’t always succeed in giving them my sole focus. The perks of doing my own thing also mean I’m often immersed in plotting and planning, scheduling or scribbling, which is just how this post started. So what I propose to all you parents is to go on mini adventures with your kids.

I’ve been enjoying one-on-one camping trips with my boys, separate trips with each one. They pack their little backpack with ‘their stuff’ and I carry all the gear for an overnight trip in the mountains. We keep it simple with nothing but the essentials; tent, mats, sleeping bags, stove and food, teddy bears and a game to play (cards, memory or whatever they like). It’s not about what we bring but what we do with out time together. We hike for about 45 minutes (or as far as a little pair of legs can go) to escape the beaten track then find a good camping spot and set up together. Often my boys go off and explore on their own. My oldest, in particular, feels so free in the wild. We find wood for a little campfire, light it with a fire striker (a great lesson in learn, thanks to the skill and patience required) and we simply enjoy what nature has to offer. We ‘cook’ a basic expedition meal which we share… one bag and two spoons. We chat. We climb a little summit. We laugh. We hang out. It’s rustic and simple yet invaluable and something I and they have come to really appreciate. We film our episodes together, which I then edit. They’ll be a source of wonderful memories one day.

Fellow dads and mums, I urge you to give this a go. You won’t regret it. You won’t be disappointed. Don’t focus on the obstacles but on the fun you’ll have and the memories you’ll make. Your adventure doesn’t need to be fancy or far fetched. All your kids need is your time… undivided and unconditional… and that’s something we can all give.

Stuff to bear in mind…

  • The timing will never be ideal so give up searching for the perfect opportunity. This is important and should take priority over other life commitments. I’ve even taken my kids out of school for our adventures.
  • Plan your trip as close to nature as possible. Even if you live in a concrete jungle… even more so if you live in a concrete jungle. Nature is never all that far away. Having said that, plan what will work for you. Even a rough night sleeping in the car works!
  • Borrow the stuff you need so you don’t have to buy new kit.
  • An overnight trip makes it extra special.
  • No screens!
  • We’re a boys only household, asides Kiki of course, but I’d do the same with girls. Why not?
  • After your adventure, talk about it, share your stories, videos and photo’s. Invite other parents to do the same.

Feel free to reach out if I can help you in planning your own…


Memorable runs

My love for running really took off when I moved to Dubai in 2002. It all started with my first half marathon in Abu Dhabi. Marathons and triathlons followed then eventually I discovered that my true passion lay in long distance trail running. There are so many reasons to love trail running. I love exploring new places. Nothing beats heading off in a random direction and just discovering where the path takes you. Trail running also unites interesting people and amazing places. On longer solo runs, I get to munch on business topics; my keynote at World Art Dubai came together during the 30k night rebel race. There’s alot to be said for using solitude to feed your creativity.


These are my top most memorable runs over the years:

> My best run last summer was with my friend Ilonka, who runs a mountain lodge in the France Alps. We both love alpine runs and got up early one morning to hit the mountains. I don’t own any cold weather running gear and can remember it was a bitterly cold start in just shorts and a light fleece at 5am. Still dark, we used our head torches to wind through the forest trails, past little mountain village Narreyroux and on to Col du Bal. Running on the high ridges with spectacular views and fresh mountain air is when I’m in my element. These are truly magical moments.

> A run filled with anxiety and excitement… or perhaps more an escape run! I fled my parents house back in 2003 to run free. It was my wedding day and the house was full of family and friends… it felt like chaos and I just needed to get out there on my own. I enjoyed an amazing run through the forest and remember feeling so free.

> Day seven of the Gobi March, a 250k self supported running race in remote China. Day seven marked the final stretch to the finish line and I can remember running the entire way, despite the blisters, aching limbs and immense fatigue. Running through the Flaming Mountains and ending at a Buddhist village made for an incredible setting. It was pretty much all downhill at that point. Crossing that finishing line came with such immense relief and pride before receiving the biggest medal ever. I felt on top of the world.

> A memorable run to be that remains in the pipeline will be a dash with one my boys, either in a competition or just a run down the street. Having seen other dads during that proud moment of first running with their sons, I can’t wait to do so with my own.

> Living in Dubai means living pretty much in the desert. In just a 30min drive, you can hit spectacular dunes which make for perfect training ground. Running in soft sand builds character, turns a run into a serious workout and requires a decent sense of navigation. Followed by setting up camp with the family, these runs can turn into a really fun weekend. I remember one run not far from Bab al Shams, when off I started, with a loaded pack at the usual crazy hour and there, beautifully lit by the early morning sun, was a stunning white Arabian Oryx. It was perhaps only 100m away, staring intensely at me… probably wondering what on earth I was doing… for what seemed an age. I stood still, staring back at him and then he just dashed off. And so did I.


Adventure HQ Photoshoot

That million-dollar question… how long will it take to shoot? Rock climbing, mountain biking, skate boarding, road cycling, kayaking, surf skiing, camping, trail running, yoga, fat biking, diving, fishing, BBQ… and the shoot list didn’t end there. I looked at the client and replied with “10 days”. They looked back, grinned and responded with “how about three days?” I laughed… and then we settled on five.

Five days… and I still don’t know how we fitted it all in. Days were jam-packed with crew call times at 3 or 4am making for 16hrs day. Pre-production was key, with extensive location scouting and setting up the shots at the best outdoor locations in both the UAE and Musandam in Oman. We pretty much crafted a minute by minute production schedule, making the best of the sweet early morning and afternoon light. I can’t remember how many brands were represented with hundreds of items and dozens of athletes / talent. But most importantly we all an amazing time in the great outdoors.

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Wouter Kingma blog for Adventure HQ shoot 29

Why do I love shooting adventure sports? Because we’re all in it for memories, all keen to create stories. And stories are so powerful. It’s a great opportunity to work with amazing athletes and adventurers. And its a grand excuse to head out into the mountains, live it to the max and enjoy the great outdoors. For me, it’s pretty much second nature but for some of the crew it meant first-time camping or getting high up in the mountains. Seeing their enormous grins during those long days was super rewarding.

I created a mood board with images I’ve shot in the past or collected from adventure brands for years, just as a reference to dig into when stuck on site or to explain individual concepts to the team. In an ideal world, you’d shoot a real and raw adventure over a ten day expedition where gear, people and clothing naturally gets worn in and roughened up. Instead, in this shoot we sped up time by rolling in the sand and using other dirty tricks. At the end of the day, the images had to look genuine, unstaged, real and inspiring. I know that’s what we delivered.

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Have a look at my main site where you’ll find the full image gallery and seriously check out the behind the scenes video on the top of this post, which besides the production side of things also shows the adventures YOU can have in our region. We do live in an amazing playground with unlimited access.

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A big shout out to the crew at Absolute Adventure for keeping us out of trouble and being our partner in ground support. Anyone who gets inspired and is keen to venture off should contact these guys. They’ll take you outdoors, look after you and give you an amazing adventure experience.

I’ve got a few amazing brands that support me with the work I do. Many thanks to Goal Zero for keeping us powered up, fstop gear for their fab pack to haul our gear around the mountains, Aquatec for keeping my camera bombproof dry in the ocean, SanDisk for their fast and uber reliable CF cards and Western Digital for safely storing 100’s of GB’s of data on their HD’s. These are amazing brands to rely on when digging it deep in far away places.

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Finally, thanks to everyone for bringing their energy and making it all happen! When tempted to buy some new outdoor toys and gadgets. Check out the Adventure HQ stores around the UAE… and when you’re there, pick up the new catalogue. I heard it looks really nice…

Wouter Kingma shooting for Adventure HQ-1

Behind the scene image by Kish

Wouter Kingma shooting for Adventure HQ-10

Behind the scene image by Kish

Till the next adventure….