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Reclaiming Our Sense of Adventure

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by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC 

I was looking through some photographs today and it reminded me of all the adventures we had when we were young. At a time when our kids’ lives are becoming dangerously sedentary, I think many are losing, or worse still, never developing their adventurous spirit.

When my husband, Brian, and his two brothers were kids they went all over the place in their spare time and their parents didn’t really know where they were. Of course, there were no cell phones to check up on the kids, or for the kids to report they were in any kind of trouble. They went everywhere on their bikes and the rule was that they had to be home before dark. Those indeed were the days. They even went to the beach to swim without their parents. It’s not that their parents weren’t negligent. It was just the way things were done back then.

When I was a small child we used to swim in the water catchment area that was a collection of water backed up behind the big concrete hydroelectric dam. Granted, we did have adults with us, but they never knew when the waterway up at the top of the spillway would come gushing towards us. We always had someone looking out, and whenever there was a shout, we jumped out.

When I think about the adventures of our youth (the 1950’s) I realize that society has changed. It is no longer safe to just allow your younger children to wander about like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

There are several factors that have changed our society and stifled our sense of adventure.

a)    One is the danger of human predators. Perhaps they were always there, but abuse was not reported to the same extent as it is today.

b)    Another is the fact that often both parents are working these days so that sense of potential supervision (knowing Mom or Dad were always home), is rarely the case any more.

c)    Vacations are often shorter because with both parents working, they may

           not get time off together, thus making it difficult to break away for a

road trip or some physical adventure.

d)    The Internet has opened up a whole new world where kids can get their

thrills by sitting and playing games, or communicating with their friends

by text or facebook. Entertainment is constantly being aimed at us from

TV. We don’t even have to go out to the movies anymore since Netflix

and other streaming methods bring it straight to our homes.

e)    Parents tend to be more restrictive by not allowing their kids to do anything that could possibly result in them being harmed e.g. not letting them climb trees for fear they will fall out and break bones. When the parents are not available to supervise adventure games, they may not allow their kids to play.

So, what is the answer to recapturing those fabulous days when we experienced every kind of physical adventure imaginable? Well, the first thing we can do as parents, is reserve time in the weekends to camp out, hike, climb, play team games, ride bikes and anything else that takes our fancy. Some kids would rather sit and read a book or play on their Ipad, but this is not creating a healthy body. We all need exercise, to feel fresh air, to sense the excitement in catching a fish, in mastering that rock climb or walking over that swing bridge.

We need to be there to make sure we can come to our kids’ rescue, but we must resist the temptation to stifle their physical creativity. If we give them helpful pointers on how to stay safe, and give them a cell phone so they can call for help, we can let them be more independently adventurous.

Make sure they have enough to eat and drink on their adventure. You can guarantee you will be helping them in several ways. They will learn to conquer their fear of failure. They will learn how to be safe. They will learn to think of others and not just themselves. Parents will bond more readily with their kids when they are encouraged to try new things. It offers opportunities for one-on-one face talk time between parents and kids. Fresh air and exercise feeds the mind and the body. Kids learn how to solve problems e.g. how to get from one place to another safely - what ropes, footwear etc they would need to climb rock faces; where the dangers lie and what body fuel they need to keep their strength up. They also need to know how far they can go one way before dark and how they can remember the way to get back.

            Adventure is just around the corner. Our kids need to get out there, and so do we. We’re creating wonderful memories and experiences that can be passed on to future generations. Up and at ’em, folks!

If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to write to us at sally@forefrontfamilies.org. Check out our website at www.forefrontfamillies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com

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