Dads’ Bucket List: Unique outings for dads and kids

Bucket List Checklist Challenges use obstacles like those on Survivor or The Amazing Race to get kids and dads to work together.

At a Little League game around two and a half years ago, Matt Boettcher realized that the friends he and his oldest son had made over the summer were likely to go back to their respective parts of north Atlanta, not to see each other again until the next summer’s games. He wanted to find a way to keep in touch while still having fun.

Boettcher founded Dads’ Bucket List, an LLC that organizes activities for dads and their children. It’s a way to make new connections and to connect with their children, Boettcher said.

“We don’t just show up in a park and do the more traditional playdates, like a mothers’ morning out or something like that,” he said. “We try to do things that are more off the beaten path. That aligns with the whole bucket list (things one would like to do before dying–or kicking the bucket) concept, checking it off your list.”

Matt Boettcher rests with his son Blake after a long day of Dads’ Bucket List activities. Boettcher founded the group to lead fun activities with fathers and children.

Matt Boettcher rests with his son Blake after a long day of Dads’ Bucket List activities. Boettcher founded the group to lead fun activities with fathers and children.

Some things the dads and kids have done include ziplining, treetop obstacle courses and orienteering. One weekend during the summer they harvested pears and passed them out at a community food bank.

“We had dads up in the trees pushing the branches and kids and dads below with helmets on collecting them on a tarp,” Boettcher said. “We got about 600 pounds and our kids got to distribute them to people picking up their monthly groceries.”

After a few events, Boettcher, who is the “chief experience officer” of the group, noticed that he had to turn away prospective dads and kids because of the large number of people wanting to participate. He then came up with the “Checklist Challenge,” drawing inspiration from television shows as Survivor and The Amazing Race” to come up with challenges to complete within a certain amount of time.

Dads’ Bucket List participants recently collected more than 600 pounds of pears for donation to a local food pantry.

Dads’ Bucket List participants recently collected more than 600 pounds of pears for donation to a local food pantry.

“[Kids and dads] need to work together as a team to complete the challenges,” Boettcher said.

“It’s more like, see how much you can do–and not a race. The goal is just to have a heckuvalot of fun.”

Dads’ Bucket List hosted its first Checklist Challenge in March, while the next one is scheduled for Oct. 25. Registration is ongoing for that event at dadbucketlist.com or on the Dads’ Bucket List Facebook page. The Challenge will support Burt’s Big Adventure, a charity that provides trips to Disney World for children with chronic or terminal illnesses.

Boettcher said that, in addition to giving moms and other children’s caregivers some time off and giving kids and dads some time to bond, Dads’ Bucket List events also connect parents with each other, for friendship and networking.

“Networking isn’t something that comes naturally to a lot of folks,” Boettcher said. “This is a real easy way for men to make connections personally and professionally with low barriers, connecting through an activity with your kids and other people’s kids. It’s kind of a win-win for families: mom gets some time off that she wouldn’t normally ask for herself and dads get a chance to connect with other dads and their kids.”

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