Creating a Meaningful Activity for the Whole Family


By Jasjit Sangha @jasjit_sangha

Jasjit Sangha with paddleboat

Jasjit Sangha, Columnist

The best memories from my childhood were of long summer days outside in the sun, playing with my sisters and cousins in the backyard. Sweat would dribble down our forehead as we played games that we made up like “robber robber” or “house house.”

Nobody knew why the name was repeated twice – we just enjoyed the freedom we had as young children. When my kids were younger I tried to recreate these experiences for them by spending lots of time outside in green spaces.

In the summer I would pack a picnic, swimming suits and towels and head over to the local park for hours at a time. We would indulge in the fresh baked cookies being sold in the snack stand or make a pizza in the outdoor oven.

My husband would often join us on his way home from work and my stepdaughters would pop by the park as they took a break from their busy teenage lives. When I returned home at the end of the day, with the kids tired and muddy, I would feel satisfied that it was a day well spent.

Now that my children have entered the tween and teen years, those days of low-key family fun are long gone. While we might still head to the park together it is usually on our way to run an errand or visit someone rather than a destination in itself. Outdoor family time usually consists of a structured activity, like taking kids to the local swimming pool, or sailing and camping as I have written about in previous columns. As a result, I find I am not as active as I used to be when they were younger and I miss the spontaneity and need to be outdoors that was a hallmark of their childhood. I find that if I do not make a concerted effort to be outdoors, I can get caught up with work and miss out on a beautiful summer day.

In my effort to be more active this summer, I am trying to follow the example of my husband, who has a passion for water sports. I am always hesitant to try them because I am not a very strong swimmer. Like many South Asians I know, I did not grow up swimming in lakes and rivers I can get a little apprehensive around very deep water.

When I was a little kid, I was the one who sat on the side of the pool and only dipped my toes in because I so scared of the water. I only learned to swim properly as an adult. Luckily, (mostly) overcoming my fear of the water has opened up a whole new world in terms of activities that I can engage in.

While I have not (yet) ventured out with my husband to partake in some more risky water sports such as kite-surfing, I decided to try out stand up paddle boarding (SUP) after he recommended it. While I was worried at first that I would not be able to keep my balance and possibly hurt myself, I tried it anyway and it was a magical experience. It took me less than an hour to feel comfortable on the board and learn how to maintain my balance.

Although I did get shivers down my spine when I first looked down into the depth of the water, as I relaxed into the experience I felt empowered as I glided across the water. When I went out for a longer stand up paddle board session at sunset, I felt inspired as the water was almost as flat as glass, reflecting the clouds and trees on its surface. I have even take it a step further and gone on the SUP in waves and tried to surf – which is not as relaxing but very exhilarating.

The best part of stand up paddle boarding is that it is a safe, easy to learn family activity that has appealed to all the generations in my family – from my children and stepdaughters to my mother-in-law. Unfortunately I rarely come across other South Asian women or families out on the water enjoying water sports and I hope this column may inspire somebody to give Stand Up Paddle boarding a try!


By adding a new activity to our repertoire I am hoping to keep the family active Image3_Jasjitand ensure that I also continue to get enough outdoor time, especially in the limited summer months we have here in Canada. For anybody who is interested in trying Stand Up Paddle boarding I highly recommend signing up for a private or group lesson with a qualified instructor.

You can start with paddling close to the shoreline near shallow water before you build your confidence to SUP in deeper water. There are many places that offer lessons, as well as fun activities such as sunset SUP’s or yoga classes on a SUP. If there is a beach, I am sure you will find a SUP rental nearby.


Do you feel nervous around deep water? Does this prevent you from trying water sports or encouraging your children to participate in water sports?

Would you try Stand Up  and try Paddleboarding? How does your family connect with nature? Would love to read your comments!

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