Muldrow family bonds over a love of the outdoors
Web developer and online marketing specialist Chris Muldrow and his wife, Tamara, a biochemist, shared a love for outdoors adventure prior to having their two children. Their son, Grey, a sixth grader at Walker-Grant Middle School, and their daughter, Mary Elizabeth (called Bess), a second grader at Hugh Mercer, have embraced their parents’ penchant for the natural world.
“One of the kids’ favorite [things] is to do the trail that goes down by Friends of the Rappahannock and down by the river. So when the weather is warmer, we’ll be out there hiking on that trail and going on the rocks in the river or either fishing or looking for wildlife,” says Muldrow, who adds that his wife and daughter also like to draw fungi, and photograph and identify plants.
Muldrow, who enjoys fishing and has taken up fly fishing, says his kids enjoy the sport, Bess particularly. “Bess [enjoys fishing] more than Grey. Grey prefers to fish when he thinks he’s going to catch something. I tie flies and Bess has recently started taking an interest in that. We will sit at the table and she ties flies with me,” he says.
On a trip with his Boy Scout troop, Grey discovered that he liked to paddle on the rapids. So Muldrow bought four used kayaks and two canoes so the family could enjoy the experience together.
Aside from kayaking, canoeing, hiking and fishing, the family also camps together in the Shenandoah. Muldrow says they hike up a trail and set up overnight camp. The kids have their own outdoor interests, too. Grey is now learning to rock climb through Boy Scouts, and Bess likes riding bikes on the Heritage Trail.
“My daughter is picking up more of the interests that I have much more than my son is,” says Muldrow. “She’s much more prone to say, ‘I want to ride bikes or go fishing.’ Gray is the one who if you say, ‘I want go hike down by the river,’ he’s the first one to say, ‘Yeah, I want to do that.’ He likes going out in canoes and kayaks.”
Muldrow believes that keeping the kids outdoors helps to teach his children how to deal with disappointment and adversity, especially since his children are gifted students who excel academically.
“Part of this process is them learning that some things you’re going to be naturally good at, and other stuff you have to practice. You’re not going to knock it out of the park every time. You have to get better at it,” he says.
“We took some kayaks out at city dock and we were going up river. It wasn’t windy and there wasn’t a lot of current, but it’s work to go up stream. My son was so frustrated. I told him number one, you’re going to get better at this and it’s that it’s easier going back down river, and number two, I told him to look how far he went. He worked for every inch. So learning that you have to work for stuff, it’s important for them to learn.”
Muldrow thinks that Fredericksburg has the right mix of outdoor terrain and organizations to get you started, like River Rock Outfitter, Virginia Outdoor Center, Friends of the Rappahannock and the American Canoe Association, who provide education, classes and rentals.
“Fredericksburg gives you a low-risk start and then [you can] step up your game. We have the trails. You can volunteer with Friends of the Rappahannock and get out in the woods and do cool stuff,” he says. “We have people in town who would love to teach parents [how to appreciate the outdoors].
He maintains that despite their affinity for the outdoors, he still has to pry his kids from the screen to get them out sometimes, but once they get outside, they love it.
“My kids, like any other kids, are addicted to the screen. So we try to make an effort to break away from the screen and get outside. When you get them outside and doing something fun they’re going to be happy they did it,” says Muldrow.