When we decided as a family to tour Vancouver Island and ditch our trailer for a tent, most of our family and friends smirked and responded with a “good luck!” or “WHY would you do that?”. I have to admit that their apprehension did trigger some of my own worries. We had not tented since having kids and I wasn’t sure if my memories of the ‘good old days’ would live up to the same experience with three children.
It turns out tenting our way across Vancouver Island was not like I remembered; it was BETTER.
As we fell out of the van for our first family hike, my daughter slapped away the insects and decided she’d rather stay in the vehicle. My eldest son was more interested in taking selfies to post on Instagram. And, my youngest was so entranced by the first log he saw it was hard to get him to walk at all. It was at that moment I knew why this family trip was SO important. My kids had lost touch with nature. They were so used to being inside and running here and there with frantic sports schedules, they NEEDED this trip!
On our way home Rob Ridley’s post asked a question which I thought was a great opportunity to reflect on our summer adventure:
“Go ahead, ask your kids – what do they feel every kid should experience outdoors by a certain age? Let me know!”
I asked my family what they thought and here are their thoughts after touring Vancouver Island for three weeks:
Jackson (12 years old):
“I think kids should climb really big rocks. They should skip and chuck rocks in different places too. I think going to places you have never been is important. Kids should try new things WITHOUT adults. I liked being able to sea kayak in my own kayak and be far away from the group.”
Kaylee (9 years old):
“I liked feeling the different kinds of sand. It was different at each beach. The ocean sand is different than our beach sand. I thought kayaking was good because I could relax and get close to nature to see new things. Every kid should have a chance to climb to the top of a mountain, set up a tent, and eat a s’more they made over the campfire!”
Luke – 2 years old
While Luke does talk a lot, he wasn’t able to answer this with his words. So as a family we thought about what we noticed, and let his actions summarize his feelings:
- Kids should be able to jump in every puddle they see.
- Dig big holes.
- Build and smash sand castles.
- Climb up things and jump down, again and again and again.
- Flip over rocks to see what’s underneath.
- Learn to watch, not squish, living things. (Thank you to the Banana and Licorice slugs of British Columbia for their patience with this last experiential lesson!)
At the end of our trip my daughter was the one who said camping was a ‘must do’ for ALL kids; YES! My son let his phone die and didn’t bother recharging. And, well the two year old is still hard to take on a walk but I was the one who learned that sitting still in a place might be more important than the walk sometimes. It’s amazing what nature will bring to you when you sink in and just let it surround you!
I could not be happier we took this chance. Was I afraid; yes. Did I think we might fail? YES! But we didn’t. I guess that is my biggest takeaway: We can always say “No but…” when new ideas or opportunities come our way. But if we have the courage to say “What if…” and take the leap, THAT is when MAGIC happens!
What have you been thinking about trying in your life? Maybe it’s time to take that leap of faith….