Posted On June 30, 2023

She hopped to the edge of the platform, raised her arms, and jumped.


The video opened on my phone and my daughter was leaping off a bridge and falling out of the frame. It took my breath away. I watched it again and texted her. “Since you sent this to me,” I said, “I assume you survived the fall?”

“Yea,” she texted back. “It was awesome.”

She’s in South Africa as I write this. She’s spent the month there with a student group called Lead Abroad. It’s a one-month trip where she and about thirty others study leadership and communication skills while experiencing the adventures that the host nation has to offer. The day she sent the video they were bungy jumping off Bloukrans Bridge. I watched as she walked to the edge of the platform, raised her hands over her head, bent at the knees and leapt forward, falling into the abyss. It was hard to watch but I was so proud of her.

I had no idea how much I’d enjoy her being on this trip and it’s mainly because she’s eating up every opportunity that’s come her way. There is nothing she’s not tried with a wide-open spirit, no question she’s not asked, not experience she’s passed up from the food, to the native face painting, to the safaris, to the paragliding, to the shark diving, to the bungy jumping, she’s done it all. Each of her messages home are full of energy.

I’m proud of her. She’s worked hard for the trip. She’s saved money for a few years to afford it. Her summer jobs gave her a little spending cash but most of her earnings went into savings. She does small decorative signs for friends at college for a little pay and saves some of that, too. My wife and I and her grandparents have her helped a small bit, but this is largely her doing. She’s experienced the satisfaction of hard work, disciplined savings, patience, and the fulfillment of it all paying off – a lesson I didn’t learn till much older.

There’s still another part to my pride. It’s watching a child take risks, meet new people, try new things well outside her comfort zone, and thrive through it all. Right now, my wife and I have a child who has confidence in herself, confidence in her social skills, confidence in her risk taking and all that. And that’s no small thing with young adults today. This experience will become the ground for more experiences like it; for her not being afraid to get outside her comfort zone. From what I see and hear right now, she’s truly living life. It’s a delight to see.

Parenting continues to surprise me. Things that my children do that I thought would have no impact on me end up taking my breath away. Other things that I thought would be momentous become unremarkable. I need to stop making predictions about what I’ll do and how I’ll feel when certain moments arrive and just experience them in their fullness.

Which is exactly what my daughter is doing right now on her hard-earned trip to South Africa.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

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