Generally after a long, exhausting trip, while airing out drenched tents or washing sand out of every pocket and cuff, I ask myself one or all of the following questions:
- Why should I adventure with my kids?
- Why expend all this effort and time to get children out into the world?
- Is it worth taking kids somewhere when they are so young they won’t remember much of it?
I think the best answer to those BIG questions is another, more focused question:
What does adventuring do for my children?
Here’s my list of what I feel hard-won adventures consistently give my children:
When I longingly read posts about kids learning to kayak in Thailand, paint in Italy, ski race at the resort town near our house, bike with their children across countries and states, I usually gnash my teeth jealously for a while. Like an unscratchable itch I shake my fist at the skies that are threatening rain while envisioning the Grecian isles, the beaches of Bali; we could be there instead of here.
That’s how you respond to the magnificent lives other people are giving their children, right?
It’s true that there is plenty to admire and gain inspiration from. We are built to want progress, do better, strive higher. If those pictures and wondrous tales push you to save a few pennies here and spend them better elsewhere, they have done you a huge service in your quest for an adventurous life with your family! Use that motivation!
however, if you are still puttering about despondently with me in the cloudy mud puddle, let’s tackle this from another end. Let’s ask ourselves:
- Do I need to travel to exotic places to call it an adventure?
- What can we do here, nearby, that will grow my children’s love of adventure?
- and the obvious, “Um, hello? Is it possible you are living in one of the most beautiful places in the world?
No and yes, respectively, to questions 1 and 3.
And to the second?
Anything. Seriously, anything done in a joyous, curious way is an adventure for your kids–and yourself! Okay, maybe not going to the local movie theater every Friday night. But anything that takes effort, that you do together intentionally, I think counts as an adventure.
Explore and get dirty with them.
Encourage wonder wherever you end up.
Try something new.
Have a few ideas? Feel better? I do.
And now we can answer those persistent, initial questions which were:
Is fostering wonder, curiosity, understanding, confidence, familial togetherness and joy worth it?
Do these formative adventures matter if the adventure is forgotten and only the influence is lasting?
I hope you’re with me in a canyon echoing, briny wave crashing, mud splattering,
“Why yes, of course they are!”