It’s a Tuesday morning, and we are about to head out on a trip of a lifetime. I check the bag again – hats, sunglasses, changes of clothes, water bottles, sunscreen, binoculars, hiking boots. I throw in a few more fruit snacks and off we go.
We get in the car and head out. The drive is short. We are not going a backpacking excursion across Yellowstone National Park or headed to Hawaii for a scuba diving adventure. No, today we are going to a nearby state park for a short walk around the lake and a picnic lunch.
When having kids made our family budget and free time shrink to never before seen lows, my husband and I realized it was time to pack up dreams of vacations of travelling and start embracing the microadventure. By definition, the microadventure is a short trip into nature – going on a day hike rather than walking the Camino de Santiago, for example. Calling these activities “microadventures” is mainly just a turn of phrase, but thinking of our simple outings as mini expeditions has given me a new perspective. Even in our hometown, we can find plenty of opportunities for learning, excitement, and fun.
Here are five reasons to start enjoying micro-adventures with your family:
1. View the world from a child’s point of view
For kids, any outing has the possibility to become a grand expedition. While adults may be seeking new sights with breathtaking views, for those who are closer to the ground, the world is ever changing. They see flowers that were not there the week before, a rock that is a different color from the rest, and every slug, snail, and bug along the path. Just because we may have done a local trail once or twenty times before doesn’t mean that we’ve seen all there is. Kids show us there is always something new to discover. 2. Getting to know your community Growing up in the Appalachians, hiking was a regular family activity. Still, we seemed to always gravitate to the same hikes over and over – the waterfall for Girl Scout trips, the one with a great view when
2. Getting to know your community
Growing up in the Appalachians, hiking was a regular family activity. Still, we seemed to always gravitate to the same hikes over and over – the waterfall for Girl Scout trips, the one with a great view when family was visiting. Now empty nesters, my parents have taken to exploring the vast network of trails that are only a short drive from their home. They call almost weekly, saying, “I can’t believe we never took you kids on this great hike we just found! We’ll do it next time you’re home.” Staying local encourages you to explore beyond the beaten path and find lesser known hikes, parks, and picnic spots that may become your new favorites.
3. Better for the environment
Staying local does more than just benefit your wallet and children’s nap schedules, it takes a smaller toll on the environment when you use less gas to get where you are going. If you are concerned about buying local or eating local, then hiking local makes sense. too.
4. Give children an appreciation for the world they live in
When we feel connected to the world we live in, we are more likely to want to help protect it. The threat of climate change is not limited to glaciers melting on distant shoes, but is creeping closer and closer to home. Teaching children about their local flora and fauna and helping them to appreciate it helps to shorten the distance between them and the natural world. When we teach them what is at stake by exposing them to the beauty of the world around them, we can help raise a generation to care for the outdoors.
5. Find gratitude
Shifting my perspective and looking for adventure, no matter how small, wherever we are has helped me to develop a greater sense of gratitude for where I am in life. Thinking of our mini-trips as adventures can help imbue them with a bit more joy and excitement, rather than just being something we have to settle for as parents who are still in the diaper change trenches or up to their ears in orthodontia bills. Living in the Rocky Mountains, I am lucky to have hundreds of trails right at our fingertips, but in every part of the country, there is always something new to explore.
Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve explored a new trail or park locally, or maybe you just need a new mindset for your child-friendly activities. Often I find myself wistfully looking at my sisters’ pictures from their latest foreign expeditions, but that doesn’t mean I have to spend my days sitting at home. We can discover a new trail, pick huckleberries in the mountains, skip rocks on a creek, go swimming at the local lake, try to fly a kite, or learn the names of as many wildflowers and birds as we can. That alone should keep us busy for the next several years.
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This post was written by Jackie Semmens exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.