Overnight camps trying to strengthen the bonds between parents and their children is just one way a Kiama anthropologist in encouraging others to be "good humans" and build stronger communities.
Father and son camps were one area social enterprise Habitus has been focusing on but daughters will have a chance to build stronger connections at the end of May, while later this year they will host a parents and child camp for those who are non-binary.
"Men and boys were a target area, but the girls need it too, they're craving those strong relationships with their dad and dads need to accept how their daughters are growing," founder and camp facilitator Dr Sumant "Monty" Badami said. "It's all based around having that great experience with your kids, but getting parents to reflect what can they do differently."
The non-profit camps are run at Kiama Public School ($250 for the full weekend for each pair including all food, activities and facilitation), while Habitus makes free spots available for "local community hero dads" (such as first responders, ADF personnel, nurses) or those unable to afford it.
Activities focus on quality one-on-one time and teach fathers "to be present", while Dr Badami said it also becomes a space where dads "feel safe" to talk with other dads about the challenges of parenting children on the doorstep to adolescence.
When Sands Skinner returned home from nine months deployment in Afghanistan he felt the relationship with his daughter was challenged on various levels and sought to enrol in Habitus' first father-daughter camp in 2019.
"You spend a lot of time at the periphery of your kids - kind of around them - but dealing with day to day life it's not often you actually get to know them as humans," he said. "Apart from your relationship with your partner, it's the most important relationship you'll ever have in your life - those with your children. Why would you not invest time and energy into making it better? Worst case scenario is you come away having spent time together without distractions."
Michael Bowden was going through a separation when he took his eldest son to a camp several years ago, and found it had such a positive impact he now volunteers at camps to help other parents and kids reap the same rewards.
"A lot of the dads, they sort of think 'there's nothing wrong with my relationship with my son or daughter so I dont need to go'," Mr Bowden said. "It's not about finding something wrong with your relationship ...it's just about creating a greater bond."
Some of the key insights he found helped his relationships were connecting with his kids through storytelling and relating to them with anecdotes from his own youth.
Habitus will run a father daughter camp at Kiama Public School from May 22 to 23. BYO tent and sleeping gear.
This event is open to girls in Years 4, 5 & 6, but there will be father/son camps and parent/child camps in the future. For bookings, go to: www.trybooking.com/BNRHR or email to email@example.com