Aamion Goodwin and his wife Daize are professional surfers based in Kauai, Hawaii, whose parenting style will give viewers of this documentary something to think about. “Given” will screen at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival on Monday, July 17, at 5 pm, followed by dinner and music, and then the documentary “Frank Serpico” at 7:30 pm.
From the ages of 1 to 18, Aamion’s father took him traveling, dividing time between Hawaii, a much more remote island in Fiji, and New Zealand. With this in his DNA, Aamion and his wife had decided early on that they wanted to do the same with their children. The documentary “Given” follows their family’s journey as they explore Iceland, Nepal, Ireland, Israel, Morocco, Thailand, Peru, Senegal, the Marshall Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and finally Fiji, where they are reunited with Aamion’s artist father.
Given is the name of the Goodwins’ firstborn, a little boy who seems to be reveling in this undertaking. Aamion carries him on his shoulders while they discover beaches, ride the waves, make their own spears for fishing, and eat coconuts right off the trees, adventures any little boy would enjoy. Their daughter True is only around 5 months old when the family leaves their Hawaii homebase to begin their journey. We see True try her first solid food, carrots, while the Goodwins are on the road. During the course of the film, True learns how to crawl and then walk on sandy beaches. Aamion and Daize take turns surfing through waves in every country they visit, even wearing wetsuits as they glide past huge chunks of ice in the surf around Iceland.
The film’s locations are beautiful, and just as compelling as the idea of raising children who are truly global citizens. Given runs around with little children from each country, with cultural differences not mattering in the least. Given is usually barefoot and shirtless, his wild long blond hair framing a wide-open face that seems game for whatever happens next. He’s the narrator of the film.
The Times caught up with Aamion in Hawaii with a phone conversation. Given is 9 now, and True is 6, and Daize and Aamion are awaiting the birth of baby No. 3 a few months from now before they set off on another adventure. Asked which place was the family favorite, Fiji won hands down.
“Bringing my kids there made me really appreciate my dad even more. He left everything to go live out there in a remote place; to see my kids out there, it was everything to me,” Aamion said. “It’s a simple environment for them to grow up in. From babies until 10 years old, I think that’s the most important time of a person’s life, soaking up so many things. You’re so present, so in the moment then. You’re not jaded and envious, you’re just a pure little being.”
Even though the Goodwins are committed to spending at least six months of the year traveling, they realize that route may not be for everyone. Aamion said that there is so much fear these days, spreading from news outlets and technology, that it was good to connect with people all over the world. He said he thought it was a good idea for parents to connect with their kids in a world that is so news-driven, technology-driven.
“It can even be in your backyard,” Aamion said. “We’re just trying to inspire people to think outside of the box. Take your kids outside and make a fire, take out a futon and put it on the ground and look into a fire with them. It’s so good for them, just letting them know you’re with them in the present.”
Aamion said he loves when they hear from other parents who have seen the film. They send emails saying that their kids are out in the woods trying to make their own spears. He said they screened the movie in an outdoor venue in Australia, and they watched as about 150 children scooted closer and closer to the screen.
“That really stoked me out, because that’s what it’s about. Bring the kids to this movie,” he said. “Kids absolutely love it.”