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Is This The End of Dangerous Dads?

When I arrived in Devon with my family in 2020 I was forced by The Wife to attend a Dangerous Dads session in the woods. She didn’t supply details about the nature of the group. But it was clear no matter what it was, on the Saturday in question The Wife was going to be spending it at home alone. In peace. With no kids. Or me.

I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like. Did the “dangerous” bit mean these were dangerous men? Were the activities dangerous in some way. Was I going to be required to perform some kind of fire ritual? I had this vision of kids with names I couldn’t pronounce running around barefoot and throwing spears at my beautiful harmless children. While their dads talked about Devon things like fishing, sailing, whittling, truffle hunting and never being in a rush.


Activities like firelighting Dangerous Dads/The Dads Network
Dangerous Dads/The Dads Network

It was an amazing feeling to have got it so completely wrong. Dangerous Dads was easy going and interesting. There were activities such as fire lighting and charcoal making but they weren’t compulsory. At points there were definitely more dads than children taking part. But that’s one of the many reasons the sessions work so well. There are opportunities to follow your child’s interest and interact with other children, but you also create space within the group to socialise with fellow dads.

But if Dangerous Dads has nothing to do with being dangerous, where did the name originate?

I thought camping was mainly being wet, listening to the raging wind and wondering which child to save first when the tent surrenders to nature’s will

While attending a local children’s centre with his own little ones in Totnes back in 2007, Ian Blackwell, founder of The Dangerous Dads Network, regularly found he was the only dad making good use of the free bacon sandwiches on offer. The staff and Ian discussed ways to expand the dad’s group and connect with more dads or male carers in the area.

There was an outdoor area underused and Ian suggested using the space for a campfire, or possibly taking the children off site to expand the topic of fire further.

A staff member said, “You mean somewhere more dangerous?”

Then someone else said, “That’s it, you should call it Dangerous Dads.”

And so, Dangerous Dads was born!The Dad's Network Logo

The Dangerous Dads Network has grown significantly over the years. Ian and his team have run hundreds of events and activities. Plus Dadfest! More on that in a minute. But all good things come to the end and now could it be the end of Dangerous Dads?

Not really.

“We are dropping the dangerous bit,” Ian said. “We don’t work with dangerous men and this often requires an explanation. Especially when approaching funders and dealing with other organisations. It’s not what we do.”

Now officially rebranded as The Dads Network, Ian and his team will be going forward into 2024 with a clear strategy. To establish a national network of dads groups through The Dads Network platform. Providing support for new groups, dangerous or otherwise within the UK. They are also listing the location and details of as many other dads groups as possible. Making it much easier for fellow dads and male carers to access information about possible meets or even camping if that’s your thing.

Which I’m saddened to admit, is now something I enjoy thanks to The Dads Network.

Now I know…

I thought camping was mainly being wet, listening to the raging wind and wondering which child to save first when the tent surrenders to nature’s will and weeing in a bucket. And it is all those things. But Dadfest 2023 showed me that it’s better to suffer as part of a group rather than alone! It’s just more fun that way.

Outdoor fun for children with the Dads Network (Formerly Dangerous Dads)Dadfest was first discussed in 2013 around a campfire during a summer camping event organised through Ian and his team. The conversation turned to how they could expand the camping experience which already included a variety of activities, such as archery, den building and other outdoor pursuits, and develop the weekend into something bigger.

And that has certainly been achieved and in 2024 Dadfest will expand to three locations throughout the UK for the first time. Did I mention the famous World Dad Dancing Championships? You have to see it to believe it!

Check out all the information on Dadfest 2024 and much more by visiting The Dads Network’s Facebook page.


To listen to Adam talk with Ian Blackwell about all things The Dads Network listen to their conversation on Soundart Radio here.

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16 days ago

It may now be called The Dads Network to reflect who they are and what they do yet they are a dangerously great bunch of people (mainly dads, father figures and carers).

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