When I was 14 years old, I wanted to attend a summer camp at the end of the year. This wasn’t an ordinary summer camp where you go to a luxury campsite with all your friends and sit around campfires singing Kumbaya or traveling around Europe.
I wanted to go on a 5-week safari in Zimbabwe with National Geographic.
This wasn’t “glamping,” but rather a back-packing tour going to local villages and building libraries. That’s right! I wanted to spend my summer holiday completely out of my comfort zone. This wasn’t going to be just my first trip overseas, this was going to be my first trip (anywhere) without my parents or any adults I knew.
My girl friend and I decided to go on this trip with another school and National Geographic. We wanted to do something different and challenge ourselves.
I knew my first challenge was convincing my parents this was a good idea. Meaning, I needed to present this to my Dad as a business opportunity, as he would be investing in this “camp.”
Being the eldest of four, everything was a business negotiation with my parents. I presented all the facts, with all the pros and very little cons at the family boardroom (the kitchen table). I consider this to be my first real business meeting.
My Father calmly said to me, “this sounds like an incredible opportunity, you can go BUT I need you to do one thing, you need to pay for a portion. You need to contribute $1,000 towards this trip.”
I didn’t have a job, I was 14 years old and I was starting to sweat.
I left the kitchen table and thought I would never be able to go. One thousand dollars, it may as well been one million, but then something kicked in. Determination.
I arranged an interview at McDonalds the very next day. I got the job, at $4.20 per hour. I worked after school, I worked on Sundays (I earned double time on Sunday’s and public holidays) I worked as much and I could!
I proudly gave my Dad $1,000 cash about 6 months later.
While I was packing my backpack, my Dad came into my room and gave me back the $1,000 and told me to hold onto it. This was my spending money for the trip and for the rest of summer.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my Father taught me the value of a dollar at a young age. He taught me how to be a problem-solver. He taught me how to negotiation a business deal and how to act in a job interview.
My Dad is still my biggest supporter, even though I’m in my thirties, married and live in another country. I still rely on him to give me advice or calm me down when I’m about to say or do something stupid.
My Dad crashes my vacations with my husband (yep that’s right, he told me he was joining our Christmas skiing vacation last year) and this year he’s crashing my vacation with my little sister in Hawaii.
My Father has 3 daughters and he’s always taught us to be the best at what we do and never to rely on a man or anyone else.
He’s taught us to be strong independent women but we both know deep down that I’m his little girl and he will always by my Dadda.
Dad, you are my Father, my friend and I love you!