Friday, June 16, 2017



My siblings and I continue to have the same argument. Who is the most like Mom or Dad? While I can see a lot of our mother in my sisters, by having a passion cooking and strong religious family values. I started to think, what makes me the most like my father? I agree that unlike my younger brother, Cole, I share more similar interests in pop-culture with my father.

From my enjoyment of old adventure movies like Indiana Jones to his taste in 70s folk music to even, yes, wearing the same out-of-style clothing I wore back in high school (apparently, Livestrong bracelets aren’t a thing anymore). Yes, as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more and more like my Dad. And while this may sound like a sigh of relief for my brother, there’s one thing that he, along with me and Dad, share a strong passion for: The Great Outdoors.

One of the first camping trips I remember sharing with Dad was during the week of Father’s Day in 2002. Dad and I, along with my Boy Scout troop, took part in a father-son fishing trip to the Paint Lake Provincial Park near Thompson, Manitoba, a small nickel mining town near the Hudson Bay. Prior to this trip, Dad could only attend small, weekend outings to nearby Minnesota lakes due to his busy schedule.

However, that was not the case with embarking on a 700-mile trip through the Canadian wilderness to spend one week in a wooden lodge, only eating nothing, but what we caught (or what the resort diner was serving across the lake).

At the time, I was at that age where I was not that impressed with being in the middle of nowhere. Instead, I just wanted to do teenager stuff like run around in the woods with my friends or simply stay inside my cabin and read some paperback book that I took along. But my father was excited and woke me up every morning at 4 AM to watch the sunrise as we cast our fishing poles off the dock. By the end of the week, I ended up catching the biggest walleye out of the troop.

Since that trip, every summer, to this day, I long for spending time in nature. The wide open lakes, the sound of the loons, the smell of a campfire, and sight of the northern lights. But nothing reminds me more of that than of the great state of Minnesota. In June 2006, as I was coming to end of my journey on the Boy Scout trail and advancing towards the lifetime rank of Eagle Scout, my father had this grand idea for me to continue my career in Scouting by encouraging me to apply for my first ever job as a camp counselor at Camp Wilderness, a Boy Scout camp in northern Minnesota.

His reasoning was he wanted me to have a “life experience” and not work the boring, in-town job at a local McDonald's like other teens. Despite being against the idea at first, in retrospect, the summer of 2006 was one of the best summers of my life due to my time spent as a counselor.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I continued going for seven more summers, even becoming a counselor at my sisters’ Camp Fire Girls summer camp. Dad and the family did visit me often on weekends. While Mother took us to cute nearby towns to enjoy an ice cream cone, Dad took me on even more camping trips like to Bemidji State Park or to Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River.
> It was during these trips that I picked up another trait from my father: becoming that annoying know-it-all guy on a vacation who points out historical landmarks only to give a history lesson to those who listen. In repeated trips to Bemidji, I don’t know how many people I have told people that the local Dairy Queen is built on the sight of tribal huts of Chief Bemidji.

As me and my siblings became older, our days spent as counselors became numbered. Gone were the days of long summer camping trips with the Boy Scouts. Instead, the focus became on smaller, trips to go kayaking. It was time for us to spend as a family, reminiscing with stories around the campfire about previous camping trips. During the kayaking trips, Dad chose to go to places that we had never been before, mostly so that he could buy a new T-shirt from the gift shop.

On one Fourth of July trip, we were kayaking through the Old Broken Down Dam on the river as I calmly paddle down river, texting some girl on my phone, as Cole and Dad excitedly awaited upcoming rapids. Dad warned me to put away my phone as the current will become stronger and that I might drop it. While I insisted that he was wrong that I won’t drop my phone, I didn’t predict that I was going to fall out of my kayak and into the water.

While I survived just fine, my phone did not. I was upset, but Dad knew how to help… by taking us all to our traditional last stop: Pizza Ranch Buffet!  Looking back, out of all the camping trips I have taken part of with the Boy Scouts or as a counselor, nothing has been more fun than giving me lifelong memories attending these trips with my father.

Happy Father's Day
Taylor Carlson
June 2017

Taylor Carlson is oldest son of Outside Adventure to Max blogger Nick Carlson. He grew up in Fargo, North Dakota and spent many summers in camping, hiking and boating in Minnesota. He now resides in Omaha, Nebraska.