When life begins to get a little mundane, my sons have an interesting pass time: They entertain themselves by recalling—really reliving—favorite memories. The four of them literally sit together and talk through full days of memories, sometimes from beginning to end.
One of my boys in particular, who happens to be a textbook Enneagram 7, is often leading the charge in this nostalgia. (On the Enneagram personality profile, type 7s live for fun. They wake up thinking of the next fun thing to do, and they struggle to face anything that hints of drudgery, hard times, or, generally not-fun. A great post about the Enneagram for families, here.)
As they open up “favorite memory” conversations, one thing is consistently true: the boys’ favorite memories are all about family vacations or some other form of family adventure.
This son has been caught, many a time, in the middle of the homeschool school day with brothers gathered around, as he searched Google Earth…for the exact location of that ice cream shop in Canada, or the hike in Washington State. He will track down the address of the condo we stayed in back in Sun Valley Idaho; the one where I mostly remember freezing to death, but my boys remember: The snow! The ice! The moose! The excitement! The adventure!
If you ask my boys about their favorite experiences in life, you’ll hear them talk about roasting marshmallows around a fire, or getting lost in the woods. They reminisce about sleeping in a tent (just feet from our home), going knee deep (in their jeans) in a freezing river, or jumping off Grandpa’s boat in Canada.
Family adventures are one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids!
Adventures—whether they happen in your own backyard or on a trip around the world, are good for kids on so many levels: It is a known fact that kids learn the most when they are experiencing things first-hand: Whether in a forest, museum, or petting zoo. Families bond more through shared experiences than they ever could watching tv or browsing the internet. Kids grow in confidence as they discover new places, face challenges, try new foods, and even confront their fears. Adventures are, without a doubt, one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids!
Now I have to admit that though I am very aware of the value of family adventures, I don’t make them very high on my priority list. I put a lot more thought and effort into school work and house projects and to-do lists than I do creating more opportunities for adventure for our family. And as my kids get older and I realize the treasure of simple family adventures, I am re-thinking my priorities.
The great thing about family adventures is that they don’t require a lot of money, time, or planning. Here is a short list of ideas to add adventure to any day. Hopefully this will be a springboard for your family to add your own ideas as well!
- Get outside! Anything done outdoors is likely to be treasured by kids. a game of tennis or a family bike ride…a hike, or camping in the back yard will all do the job. Get outside and get creative!
- Pick a challenge to prepare for as a family. A fun run, or a challenging hike. Keep each other accountable as you get fit and prepare to compete or tackle a challenge. Make sure to celebrate when you’re done!
- Serve someone in need. Join a group doing charity work, feed the hungry, or find your own project to take on. Kids will always remember how good it feels to invest time and energy into helping someone who has serious needs.
- Road trips can be done well and on a budget with a little planning. Get creative and plan even a couple days away. It’s amazing how many memories can be made just hitting the road and be adventurous as a family. Even when things don’t go smooth–memories are being made! Just be sure to bring your sense of humor along for the ride!
- Get your family’s input! Gather the family and dream of adventures each member would love to experience. Begin to plan and save, and find a way to make some dreams come true.