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 Posted in    |  on June 16th, 2017  |  by

Adapting to fatherhood: Forrest Campbell’s journey

Little boys are often high energy, spending most of their free time outside riding their bikes, playing at the skate park, and skiing, with their family. As a father you’re often the one taking the boys out to wear off some of that energy, and for local dad Forrest Campbell over the past two years he’s learned how to adapt the way he plays with his boys Owen and Taylor.

Two years ago Forrest was in a skiing accident that left him quadriplegic but he has never let his road to recovery stop him from being active with his boys. Prior to the accident, the Campbell family was very active in skiing, hiking, and biking. That hasn’t changed, in fact, the family still continues to pursue those activities now, just in a different way.

“They’ve gone through their changes and Owen is especially like ‘dad I so miss going biking with you.” I’m like bud I can be out on the trail with you, it’s just not going to look the same anymore. You know I’m still there, I’m still at your soccer games. I’m not your coach anymore, but I’m there. It’s not like I’m spending any less time with you buddy it’s just I’m spending it a little differently,” said Forrest.

Forrest said it took him a long time to realize that he was an adequate father after his injury, finding new ways to be there for his two sons aged 11 and seven.

“We’ve got a cool relationship, I’ve had to work pretty hard in the last little while to make sure I connected with them. It’s not with any lack of them wanting to, sometimes it was me feeling like I wasn’t adequate enough as a father anymore. That’s not the truth. I’ve found I can be there for them in ways I wasn’t there before,” said Forrest.

These days he focuses more of his time on the boys and their schooling, making sure they don’t need any forms signed and returned to school, finding out how their day was, making sure no one is bullying them, and doing more after-school activities with them.

“I’m more on top of it that way, making sure I go to their school events, like Taylor’s in the choir. He sings in the choir, so I make sure I get to all his events, and Owens in the Silver Strings band and I try and make it to his Silver Strings concerts, just make sure that I’m visible there to support all the time,” said Forrest.

Prior to the accident, Forrest was the one that would come home from work and wear out some of the kid’s energy by taking them biking or to the skate park. That hasn’t changed, with the use of his Batec bike taking his boys out, is still something they all enjoy.

“It’s kind of neat because I’m more at their level when we’re doing it too, especially Taylor. You’re looking them directly in the eyes,” said Mr. Campbell.

Mr. Campbell said he’s getting to the point with his independence where he feels comfortable to take the boys out individually with his vehicle or Batec.

“I’m trying more and more now to make sure I do individual things with the boys. It’s important to be able to spend that time just one-on-one with them,” said Mr. Campbell.

While for him and Owen that means they can go get ice cream and read one of Forrest’s childhood science fiction books together, for him and Taylor it means biking or working in the backyard on the garden.

For the family, getting back into skiing has been a big part of their wintertime experience, with Forrest using a sit-ski to keep up with his boys.
“It’s been weird to tell you the truth. It’s good to be back out on the snow and I love being out skiing. It’s strange to be learning how to do it again, but it’s coming along. My goal is to be able to be independent on the run skiing. Right now I still have somebody who skis behind me and helps me control my sit-ski,” said Forrest.

Often the two boys take jumps along the side while they wait for their dad to catch up. Both boys are part of the Panorama Freeride Club and Owen is looking to get into the competitive side of the sport.

“I struggle with it a little bit because you don’t want to see something happen to him, but you can’t bubble wrap your children,” said Forrest. “I think he’ll probably have a wake-up call at some point, he’ll have a bad crash or something like that, maybe he’ll have to double think things, maybe it’ll be what he really wants to do. I hope he doesn’t end up in any situation like I am but I can’t stop him from doing what he loves to do either.”
Both boys talking about going to the Olympics, and their dad is a former junior national cross country skier.

“I’m always there to be supportive of them whether I can do the activity or not, I’m always there to support and encourage,” said Forrest.

For the Campbell family, dealing with a spinal cord injury never changed the values of the family nor the way Forrest and his wife Cassy parent their children. They continue to teach them to be independent, free-thinking little boys, all while instilling a love of travel into their children.

“Whether I’m in a wheelchair or not, we’ll still keep traveling with them, which is a huge thing for us. Just making them aware of the world around them because we do live in a fairly insulating little town and being aware of what else is out there is huge,” said Forrest.

When Forrest sustained his injury his sons were told that he was hurt badly, not that he was a quadriplegic. When Owen first saw his dad after the accident he said “Dad I’m just glad you’re not gone.”

“They’ve never saw me as less than Dad. They still love to come hug and cuddle. They haven’t at all backed away at all. You could see some kids would be a little afraid, but they’ve always been right there the whole time,” said Forrest.

With a severe injury changing the day to day life for the Campbell family, one thing is for certain, that this dad has never let anything stop him from being the best parent possible to his two little boys.

Nikki Fredrikson
Email: nikki@columbiavalleypioneer.com
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Nikki Fredrikson joined the Pioneer in after completing her bachelor of journalism major in public relations from Thompson Rivers University. She previously worked with the Pioneer as summer intern returning in early spring to experience more of what the Valley has to offer. If she's not in the office you'll find her covering an event, hiking the trails or kayaking on the lake.

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