DadsFavThingsBy Kristy MacKaben

It was on a four-day backpacking trip that Scott McComb truly got to know his oldest son, Alex, who was in seventh grade at the time. They hiked along Virginia’s Skyline drive, taking in the scenery and talking about life.

“It was just him and me. It was really special,” says McComb, of Chesapeake Beach.

Sharing special experiences and spending quality time with kids is crucial for fathers, says Julie Hickson, clinical director of Lighthouse Christian Counseling in Centreville.

“It’s essential to their lives for all kinds of reasons,” she says. “Children feel more emotionally connected when their father is deliberate with that time he spends with them.”

In honor of Father’s Day, Chesapeake Family asked several local dads to share their favorite way to spend time with their kids. Read on to discover what they enjoy doing and to get some ideas for bonding with your own children.

DadsJoshIngbretsonWJosh Ingbretson of Edgewater

Dad to Jackson, 6, and Logan, 4, and husband to Kelly

Josh Ingbretson, an Annapolis City police officer and K-9 handler, admits he’s a big kid. Whether it’s ice skating, riding bikes or digging in the sand, Ingbretson loves being outside with his kids.

When his sons are apprehensive about something, Ingbretson encourages them to overcome their fears — mostly because he doesn’t want to miss out on an adventure.

“My dad wasn’t really around, so I had to figure stuff out,” Ingbretson says. “It’s what I didn’t have and I wanted, so I want to give that to them.”

As a police dog handler, Ingbretson often works odd hours, so he tries to make the most of the time with his kids, who aren’t too interested in his job yet. (They aren’t fond of the squad car because it smells like dogs.)

The outdoors is Ingbretson’s favorite place to be. In the winter, he and the kids ice skate at the outdoor rink at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. “It’s become one of our favorite things to do,” Ingbretson says.

In warm weather, Ingbretson and his boys can be found riding bikes on local trails, monkeying around at the playground or building sandcastles at the beach.

An ideal weekend with just the boys would be spent camping and fishing, Ingbretson says. Last summer was the first time his boys went fishing and Ingbretson couldn’t have been more proud. With Spiderman and Lightening McQueen fishing rods, Jackson and Logan stood on the beach and cast out into the ocean.

“If I could take the boys away for a weekend to camp and fish and be outdoors, just kind of roughing it, the little guys with one big guy, that would be just a dream weekend,” Ingbretson says.

Scott McComb of Chesapeake BeachDadsscottmccombW

Dad to Alex, 18, Ethan, 16, and husband to Christina

Running around the woods with paintball guns is how Scott McComb loves to bond with his boys. The McCombs live on 7 wooded acres in Chesapeake Beach, so there’s plenty of room to run and hide.

“I really think, much more than the activity itself, I like the fact that it ends up being just us,” McComb says. “What I like is it removes us from the regular world and we get to spend time together in the woods playing paintball. It helps us connect.”

McComb says his job as acting director of curriculum and instruction for Calvert County Public Schools is time-consuming, and his sons are often busy with school and sports, so any time together is cherished.

Being outdoors and away from life’s schedules and stresses allows McComb to connect with Alex and Ethan. Some of his favorite memories involve one-on-one time with the boys — his Appalachian hiking trip with Alex and a bike ride on the C&O Canal towpath with Ethan.

“If you’re not careful to make time to spend together, you just end up forgetting and the weeks turn into months and the months into years and you don’t connect as a family,” McComb says. “I think it’s important to find the time and schedule it.”

DadstonywilliamsWTony Williams Jr. of Pasadena

Dad to Tony III, 2, and husband to Latoria

It’s no wonder 2-year-old Tony Williams III loves fire trucks. His dad is a firefighter for the Annapolis Fire Department, so ringing the bell on a fire truck is pretty much his favorite thing to do. Though Thomas the Tank Engine is still popular in the Williams household, Tony can’t contain his excitement when he sees a fire truck zoom by.

“I’m proud that he knows his dad is a firefighter, that brings excitement to me to see his eyes light up,” Williams says.

Along with touring the fire station, Williams also loves to run around the park with his son. A perfect day for Dad would be pancakes at a local restaurant and then playing at Chesapeake Park in Annapolis.

“He loves pancakes. What little kid doesn’t love pancakes?” Williams says. “Then a day at a park, just playing. Just a simple day of having fun. We like to go to the park and get all that extra energy out before naptime. He’s a little rambunctious kid.”

Jeremy Pendleton of SykesvilleDadsjeremy pendleton2W

Dad to Selena, 13, and Quinton, 7, and husband to Shannon

A day at the ballpark with his kids is pure bliss for Jeremy Pendleton. He loves baseball, especially the Orioles. His son, Quinton, plays baseball, so he loves the sport, and daughter Selena enjoys going to the games even though she doesn’t follow baseball as closely.

“We just like being at the ballpark,” Pendleton says. “We check out all the statues and trophies. … My son, being younger, I take him to the kids club and he likes to meet the Oriole bird. My daughter likes being out and about in the buzz. She just likes being around the crowds.”

Being outside and active is also important to Pendleton, who is a personal trainer at the Columbia Association. When Pendleton and his kids aren’t watching baseball, they enjoy hiking, especially in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, and Catoctin Mountain Park in Thurmont. The family enjoys walking the trails, skipping rocks in streams and finding crayfish.

“I’m often out working crazy hours, so when I’m home, I like to spend time with them,” Pendleton says.

As his kids get older, Pendleton understands every moment is special. While Quinton constantly wants to play catch with his dad in the backyard, Selena would rather be with her friends.

“My daughter, being a teenager, it’s kind of tough. … It’s hard for her to give me one-on-one time. She always wants to be with her friends,” Pendleton says. “When I do get that time, it’s wonderful.”

DadsUmaSrikumaranWUma Srikumaran of Clarksville

Dad to Nithya, 4, and Anshi, 2, and husband to Divya

It’s the simple things that Uma Srikumaran enjoys the most with his kids. He loves snuggling up and reading Curious George books and running around outside or playing at Centennial Park. But a perfect day for Srikumaran, an orthopedic surgeon with Johns Hopkins Hospital, would be spent at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore with Nithya and Anshi.

“They love animals. That’s our favorite outing,” Srikumaran says. “Having kids completely changes your perspective. …. What becomes important to you centers around them more than you thought it would, and you put their interests before anything else.