Do you remember the adventures you used to have when you were a kid? I love to watch my own kids as they wander through our back pasture with walking sticks in hand. They can create excitement and adventure out of a dirt hill, corn stalks or just wading through the tall grass that almost completely covers them. Although I hate to admit it, I find myself losing some of that sense of adventure from time to time. That sense of awe and wonder that keeps us alive and young, that ability to be creative and spontaneous can start to wither if we don’t cultivate it. Along with that sense of awe and wonder, our genuine sense of self and family can wane when we don’t nurture it.
We often try to manufacture moments with our kids, but struggle to feel the genuine feelings of connection and cooperation that we would like. I find that when we have experienced more than a few days like this, we could use a change. We could use an adventure.
A good family adventure can be the experience we need to reignite the fire of connection and cooperation. It can bring benefits that help us to genuinely see our kids, ourselves and our lives more clearly again.
Columbus Day: A day for exploring!
I recently had a day off work for “Columbus Day.” The Sunday evening before the holiday I said to my kids, “What do you think about going exploring to celebrate Columbus Day?” (My kids have recently been learning about some of the early American explorers and so this was especially fresh in their heads). We all decided that we would spend the day climbing and exploring the City of Rocks in Southern Idaho.
The kids woke Monday morning ready to go. We ate breakfast, did our household chores and hopped in the car. Of course, there were a few more steps in that sequence, but that’s a discussion for another day. We drove to the City of Rocks where we first went to a huge rock known as “Bathtub Rock.”The name stems from the giant impression in the top of the rock that resembles a bathtub. All 3 of my sons, ages 8, 6, and 4 were determined to climb to the top of the rock to see the “bathtub.” The path to the top of the rock does not require ropes, but does require greater climbing strength and skill than simply hiking up a hill. Handles have been drilled into the side of the rock and somewhat resemble a ladder in places, while other spots require free climbing short rock faces. Despite the difficulty of the climb and the fear associated with the quest, each of them was unwavering in his desire and resolve to make it to the top. The climb was slow but each of them made it to the top.
We stood at the top and talked about the achievement as well as the beauty of the world around us. It was exhilarating. It was breathtaking. It was genuine.
We hiked and climbed and took pictures for hours. We were gone on this adventure for about 8 hours of our day. As we wrapped up the trip and we drove our exhausted children home to bed, I consciously recognized 5 amazing, positive, life-changing benefits of great family adventures like this.
5 genuine benefits of a good family adventure
1. Genuine Togetherness: There were no distractions. When we were together, we were actually together. There was no whining, complaining or fighting for 8 full hours. The wide open spaces allowed each of my kids to have more than enough room to move and subsequently to long for each other to be close and see, hear, feel and experience all of the new and wonderful things they were experiencing. We moved from place to place together with excitement and enthusiasm.
2. Genuine Helpfulness: We depended on each other in several places on the rocks to help and assist each other. My boys offered their hands to lift each other up. They didn’t help because they had to. They helped because they wanted to.
3. Genuine Family Fun & Creativity: It was just fun! My boys talked about what they thought the rocks looked like. They found “caves,” and wandered through rocks and up walls with eagerness. They played out a detailed make-believe scenario of a family surviving in the wilderness and invited my wife and me to play roles in their incredible fantasy world. We had a whole day to have fun together.
4. Genuine Courage: Some of the climbing was challenging to my boys and stretched their physical and mental stamina. My middle son, Eli was especially fearful to climb “Bathtub Rock,” but he was determined to do so and he did it. We left it up to each of them, but Eli wanted to reach the top despite his fear. When he finished the climb, you could see him beaming, both from his personal triumph and from the beauty that surrounded him. I recently heard a quote regarding fear and courage that goes like this, “Fear is wetting your pants. Courage is going into battle with wet pants.” We talked about the courage they displayed at the top of that rock. Each of them showed and recognized their fear and their courage. That is a priceless lesson.
5. Genuine Confidence & Satisfaction: Along with the lesson of courage came a renewed and strengthened sense of confidence and satisfaction. They kept telling us throughout the day, “We climbed ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP of bathtub rock!” They learned they could do hard things. They actually practiced doing hard things. They experienced the personal satisfaction of setting a goal and overcoming obstacles. We all enjoyed the satisfaction of spending time together that was unfettered by bickering between the kids or other small family issues. During the car ride home and at bedtime that night our 4 children thanked us multiple times for spending the day with them. We gained greater confidence in our love and appreciation of each other.
Our day in the City of Rocks rejuvenated me and gave each of my children some incredible life lessons. It was both entertaining and enjoyable in the moment and strengthening and edifying in the long run. You can experience these same benefits with your family. It doesn’t matter what the adventure is. Just explore. Take on a new challenge together. Take an adventure and see what can happen.
What adventures have been particularly meaningful to you, with your parents or with your kids? What lessons or benefits did you learn or see?