Riverwood Cabins - Father's Day

What Do You Want Most for Father’s Day?

By | Cabin Life, Family, General | No Comments

fathers-day-kids-drawing

Ask any Dad what they want most for Father’s Day, and you’ll get a broad variety of answers.

Hint: not too many are going to say “a new necktie”.

It’s likely that the answer will vary according to the stage of life he is in. Fathers of younger children may say that what they most want is to have a nice family dinner together where no mashed potatoes get thrown at anyone. Middle-aged dads may tell you they would want to spend time with the family and not have their teenage kids’ noses buried in their smartphones. Perhaps they wish for a day together with the whole family where they’re all engaged in an activity that is fun for everyone, and no one whines about being bored. Older dads will likely tell you that what they want most is to simply gather their whole family. Kids, grandkids, everyone together having fun.

Turn Your Wish Into Reality

Father’s Day is important, because it’s really a microcosm of what dads want for their family 365 days a year. We want our kids to enjoy being together, to do things that they’re passionate about, and to excel in them. We want them to be be smart, hard working, humble, and patient. We want them to be fun to be around, and have fun being around us. We don’t often stop to think about actually wanting those things, but on Father’s Day our routine is interrupted, and we reflect on what we really want for our family.

Modern life doesn’t make it easy to realize any of these Father’s Day goals and desires. There are so many things that can get in the way of the whole family getting together and spending time enjoying each other’s company. Smartphones, TV’s, video games, sibling rivalry, broken relationships, girlfriends, boyfriends, failed marriages, and stress all stack the deck against making really sweet memories together.

As a Dad, what are things we can do to create the kind of environment where are kids will truly enjoy being together in the way we desire? I’d like to suggest that living the cabin life is one of the best ways to do this.

Riverwood Cabins - Father's Day Cabin Retreat

The Cabin Life Effect

Living the cabin life is a ‘pattern interrupt’ that can help overcome some of the distractions and baggage that we deal with as a family. When we get out of the rat race for a few days, a few weeks, or perhaps permanently, something begins to shift inside us.

Why does the cabin life cause this shift? It will help you:

  • Improve Your Health
  • Develop Positive Behavior in Your Kids
  • Create Better Memories

Riverwood Cabins - Father's Day

Improve Your Health

Living the cabin life often involves being outside more. Being outdoors has been linked with massively improved psychological health.

According to a study published by the NIH, being outdoors causes increased brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for empathy, emotional stability, and love. In contrast, being in an urban environment causes increased brain activity in the areas responsible for fear and anxiety.

Spending time outside also boosts serotonin, which is a ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter, and it has been linked to improved short term and long term attention spans!

Sounds like spending time in an outdoor setting could lead to a better family environment – not just on Father’s Day!

fathers-day-kids-lake

Develop Positive Behavior in Your Kids

The National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse has shown that children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to try cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana.

An overwhelmingly positive indicator for a child’s future well being is how many meals they share with their family. Kids who are in families that eat dinner together are less likely to experiment with dangerous substances or harm themselves in other ways.

When you’re living the cabin life, every meal is a family meal. When everyone is a happier and more relaxed, conversations flow freely. These conversations are not only strong positive memories for children, they help equip them to deal with the challenges and temptations they face day to day.

Riverwood Cabins - Father's Day

Create Better Memories

No dad wants his kids to grow up and have memories of him being glued to his desk, or his smartphone, or stuck in his reclining chair. We all want our kids to remember us as our best selves, and we want to serve as an inspiration to them to explore and pursue their passions. Spending time together at the cabin is one of the most powerful ways to disrupt your bad habits and engage in activities with your family that will stick with them for years.

It can be as simple and silly as playing Wiffle Ball in the yard, or as involved as a week long canoe trip down your favorite river. What the activity is matters less to your kids than the fact that you’re engaged in it with them, and are excited to spend time with them.

What’s Your Passion?

Here are some activities that you may decide to engage in as you live the cabin life and set out to make better memories:

Boating

  • Pontooning
  • Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing

Fishing

  • Fly fishing
  • Trout fishing
  • Bass fishing

Hunting

  • Deer hunting
  • Bear hunting
  • Elk hunting
  • Small game hunting
  • Turkey hunting
  • Archery

Shooting Sports

  • Clay pigeons
  • Target practice
  • Plinking
  • Long distance shooting

Exercise

  • Jogging
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Kickball / Whiffle ball
  • Creek rambling

Cooking

  • Outdoor grilling
  • Dutch oven cooking
  • BBQ
  • Campfire cooking

Relaxing

  • Front porch sitting
  • S’mores
  • Hammock
  • Bird watching
  • Laying in the grass looking up at the sky.

There are hundreds of possibilities, and I won’t be able to list them all here. I hope this inspires you to not only have a wonderful Father’s Day, but to think about how you can build a life for your family that truly does build great memories, and great relationships.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, live the #CabinLife and make great memories with those you love.

leave-legacy-featured-image

Leave a Long-Lasting Legacy

By | Cabin Life, Family, Nostalgia | No Comments

leave-legacy-featured-imageTurning 40 a few months ago made me think about getting older. I know – 40 isn’t old by any stretch, but it’s a solid step towards middle age. It made me pause and reflect on my life – how I’m living now, and how I want to be remembered.

Perhaps another four or five decades await me here on this earth, so it might be a little early to be thinking about how I will be remembered, but it does my soul some good. It pulls me out of the hubbub of the here and now, and helps me take the long view.

Here at Riverwood Cabins, we’re really lucky to get to hear from folks like you who care so deeply about their families and friends and the memories they make together.

How do we leave a long-lasting legacy? Here are a few ways we can serve others and enjoy our lives while building a legacy we will be remembered by someday.

leave-legacy-pursue-passions

1) Pursue your passions

You’re at your best when you’re operating at the intersection of your natural talents and your passions. Don’t sell yourself short by shoving your passions to the back burner for too long. It’s easy to keep your head down in the daily grind and all of a sudden you look up and another decade has passed.

When you pursue your passions, it’s an invitation to those around you to join you. The energy is infectious!

You want your family and friends to know you as someone who lives abundantly.

leave-legacy-give-generously

2) Give generously

Find causes you love and support them generously. It’s a wonderful feeling to see others do great work in areas you’re passionate about and know that you helped enable that.

When you give generously of your time and your resources, it keeps your life from revolving around you, and blesses those around you.

leave-legacy-build-integrated-life

3) Build an Integrated Life

If you’re just surviving until the weekend, you’re going to miss the joys of an integrated life. Part of leaving a great legacy is living a life of joy. With some planning and intention, you can live a life that you don’t need a vacation from.

Our customers inspire all of us when they tell me about how they sold their house in the suburbs, and finally put a cabin on a plot of land that lets them pursue their passions while putting a roof over their heads and meeting their obligations at work. They can live in their cabin, continue to work, and yet pursue their hobbies and passions simply by walking out the front door.

leave-legacy-live-for-others

4) Live for Others

Living a life that others will remember fondly takes sacrifice and service. If we’re all wrapped up in reaching our own goals, and making ourselves happy, we’re not going to like the legacy we leave.

Making sacrifices now lets us help our kids and grandkids make memories and live passionately. We get to show them by example how to check a trapline, shoot a rifle, and gut a fish.

leave-legacy-dont-stop

5) Don’t Ever Stop

Many times people make changes late in life that dramatically alter their legacy. At 65, 70 or 75, it’s not too late to change, and become more like the person you want to be remembered as.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is always time to put these principles into action. Be relentless in your pursuit of living a life that enriches others, and make sacrifices to spend time with those you love.

In the end, I suppose, there is no magic elixir to what creates a great legacy. It’s built one day at a time, living life the right way.

family playing in fresh snow

Make Amazing Memories at Christmas!

By | Cabin Life, Family, General, Nostalgia | No Comments

Make it a Memorable Christmas

No holiday tugs at the heartstrings like Christmas does. This time of year our hearts are a little softer, a little more open to what those around us are feeling and experiencing.

Sadly, it’s also a time of year when we’re tempted to compare ourselves to others. There’s a ton of pressure to make sure everything measures up. That our kids and grandkids have a Christmas time that is as perfect as possible.

We buy stuff our kids don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like. And we stress about whether it will be enough.

This Christmas the team here at Riverwood Cabins and I invite you to unplug from all of the stress and striving. Let’s do it differently this year.

The only things that will remain in the hearts of our loved ones after the tree has been taken down are the memories we’ve made and the relationships we’ve built.

Whether you’re already enjoying the cabin life, or plan to do so in the coming years, here are some suggestions for creating a Christmas time that everyone will remember fondly forever.

Adventurous Memories

It’s been said that there is no bad weather, only bad gear. If you’re in an area where you get a white Christmas, you may want to consider giving a gift that can be enjoyed immediately.

Young man snowshoeing in winter

Snow Shoe Hike

Post-holing your way through fresh powder up to your knees is no fun for you, the kids, or the dog. But floating along on top of the snow with some snowshoes? That’s the kind of hike you’ll remember for years, and can become a tradition!

REI has a great blog post about how to choose the best snowshoes for the whole family. Check it out and be inspired to start a new tradition!

Fire In The Winter Forest

Winter Bonfire w/ S’mores

Whether or not you have a white Christmas, you can change things up a bit by having an outdoor winter bonfire and make some s’mores with the family. I can speak from experience and tell you that sitting around a big old fire when it’s below 10 degrees is exhilarating and memorable. It changes the whole dynamic of a campfire somehow, with the fire crackling and cutting into the icy air. It’s beautiful.

Another benefit of having an outdoor winter bonfire? Everyone is probably wearing gloves, so they won’t be poking away at their smartphones, and will actually enjoy spending time together!

feet of animals in snow

Animal Tracking

Start at the edge of the woods, and find animal tracks in the snow. Follow them, and try to figure out what kind of animal left the tracks. See if you can spot the animal, or it’s habitat.

Professional tracker Tim Smith runs the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School  in Maine. He says “You’re not always able to figure out what the animal you are tracking is, but you can usually figure out what it isn’t,”

Here are some tips Tim gives for tracking with kids:

  • Prints: Look for size, claw marks, and depth. Look for the number of toes or toe pads. Then use a field guide to identify them.
  • Feather Marks: One of the most dazzling clues you can find—feather prints in a snowy field. This might be the track of some turkeys, or the full wing imprint of an owl or hawk that swooped down to grab a mouse or mole it heard through the snow.
  • Gait patterns: Often the easiest way to identify an animal, the track will show parallel, diagonal, bounding, or galloping foot patterns. Field guides are also helpful here.
  • Scat: Kids will get a kick out of breaking scat open to find what the creature has been eating. Just grab a stick and start breaking it apart.
  • Browsing marks: Deer, moose, rabbits and others are forest browsers, constantly nibbling on twigs and branches as they walk. Deer only bite from the bottom and their dull teeth leave the ends of the twigs torn and rough. Rabbits make clean 45 degree cuts with their sharper teeth. In the springtime, look for rabbit chew 3 to 5 feet high. No, the rabbits don’t get that big in New England—but it will show you where the snow came up to in the wintertime.

Cozy Indoor Memories

Maybe braving the elements isn’t your idea of a good time and you’d rather make memories indoors. Here are some suggestions to keep everyone off of their smartphones and unglued from the television:

dutch blitz

Fast Paced Card Games

I have a short attention span, so a long, drawn out game loses my attention really fast. One of the best card games for short attention spans is Dutch Blitz. It can be played by 2 to 8 people, and each round lasts only minutes. You can play to 100, 500 or 1000 points, and keep things moving fast.

It’s a game all my kids can beat me at, and have fun playing, from my 7 year old to my 14 year old. I like that it tests my skills and my hand-eye coordination, and provides a fun competitive environment right in the comfort of our living room.

Another game that’s easy for older kids and the adults to get into is Rook. You can play a game of Rook in 30 minutes or less, but you’ll probably have so much fun you’ll keep playing.

Bonus point: Set up a folding table in front of the fireplace so that you can enjoy the fire while playing card games.

Christmas Dinner

Sit and Talk After Dinner

Pfff… I know what you’re thinking. My grandkids don’t want to sit around the table and talk after dinner. I disagree – you just need the right prompts to get the conversation going. First rule? No smartphones at the table!

Here some conversation prompts sure to get things rolling as you sit around sipping coffee or tea.

  • What made you laugh today?
  • If you could have a conversation with anyone in history, who would it be?
  • If we could go anywhere on vacation, where would you want to go? Why?
  • Would you rather live in a castle, or on a boat? Why?
  • Do you think there’s a difference between being smart and being wise? Why?
  • Tell me about the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.
  • If you could trade places with anyone in the world, who would it be, and why?
  • What’s the best song ever written?

settlers of catan

Board Games That Aren’t Bored Games

Let’s be honest:when you say board games, I think bored games. My attention span just isn’t that long, and I suspect there are others out there like me. However, when I do get over my initial resistance to the idea, I always seem to make a ton of memories and have fun times with my kids and friends.

Here are some board games that get good reviews from fans of all ages:

Ticket To Ride

Some have described this newer game as a combination of Monopoly and Risk. I’ve not played it myself, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but it’s garnered an eye-popping 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com with over 3,200 reviews so it must be amazing. If you’re a fan of TTR, drop a comment below and tell me what you love about it.

Settlers of Catan

Here I can speak from personal experience. This gameplay typically lasts about an hour, which is long enough that if you’re losing badly early on it can seem an eternity. However it does get 4.7 out of 5 stars that indicate that the strategy and thrill make it a fun game for a broad array of players.

Hasbro Pie Face Game

Decidedly more base fun than the strategy games above, you either get a point added to your score, or you get pie in the face. As a bearded man, I can imagine that repeated pie in the face could get a little messy, but I bet it’s fun!

More than 2,500 folks have left glowing reviews for this game with a 4.4 out of 5 star average, which makes me want to try it this winter!

 

Merry Cabin Christmas!

There’s no question that having a cabin gives you opportunity to make great memories any time of year. If you’re already happily enjoying your cabin – maybe these suggestions will spark new discussions and adventures. On the other hand, if a cabin is still in your future, perhaps these suggestions can whet your appetite for the kinds of memories you’ll create in your Riverwood Cabin!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at Riverwood Cabins!

Prayers for Gatlinburg

By | Cabin Life, General, Nostalgia | No Comments

Fourteen souls perished and more than 145 people were wounded in the terrible fires that swept through Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week. More than 1,700 structures were burned as well. 

Our hearts go out to those who have lost so much. We’re lifting you up in prayer. The timing – so close to Christmas – makes the loss particularly painful.

In addition to all those who live and work in Eastern Tennessee, every year more than 11 Million Americans visit Gatlinburg with those they love. They come to vacation in charming cabins in the breathtakingly gorgeous Smokey Mountains. For many, seeing these beautiful cabins go up in smoke feels like a personal affront. A horrifying fire has consumed the place that you have visited many times, and have built lasting memories in and around. Our hearts go out to you too.

 

we-love-u-gatlinburg

Amidst the ashes, smoke, and dust, shine a few beams of winter sun. The dreadful fire may have reduced your cabin to ashes, but it cannot, and will not, take away the precious memories you’ve created with your loved ones over the years.

The cabin life lives on in your heart and mind through the memories you’ve made. This can’t be taken away by fire, or by anything else. Nurture these memories, enjoy them, gain strength and encouragement from them. When the time is right, they will burst forth in a new way. Perhaps in a way that you can’t envision now.

At Riverwood Cabins, we’ve said from the start that the most important part of what we do is to build cabins so that you can make memories, but we may never have truly appreciated just how important these memories are. For hundreds of people in the Gatlinburg area, memories are all that they have left.

As we continue to mourn the lives lost and figure what it’s going to take to rebuild, let’s join together and celebrate with each other by recounting and sharing some of #OurCabinMemories.

Share your favorite cabin memory with us on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #OurCabinMemories so everyone can follow along.