ABC of family adventuring – L, M, N, O & P
As the famous Jackson song proclaims, ABC is, “easy as 123” so rather than write a numbered list of suggested ideas, hints and tips for family adventuring we thought we’d offer some thoughts using the alphabet. Here we focus on L to P.
L for LIFE’S TOO SHORT…NOT TO
When asked why we decided to give up our jobs, sell the house and take the girls out of school for a year (or more) of family adventuring this is our answer.
Family life is important and you want to look back on the time that you had with your children as happy memories full of shared experiences. Children grow up quickly so enjoy every stage of their childhood. Don’t put off doing something because you never know how much time is left.
L for LIVE SIMPLY – do more, have less
One thing we’ve certainly learnt living in a caravan is that you don’t need a lot of stuff. Bits and bobs clutter your life and often aren’t as necessary as we think they are.
When many adults are asked about their fondest memories as a child, they are more often than not, about somewhere they went or something they did, not the latest gadget they acquired for a birthday.
Often you don’t need to spend a lot of money; playing in the park, camping out or simply walking provides a much richer experience and one that will have lasting memories.
M for MAP SKILLS
Even though we live in a modern world with GPS and Sat Nav, the simple art of map reading is a necessary life skill. Start young and teach your children to find where you are on a map, identify features and plots routes. For those not confident at reading maps, outdoor shops sometimes offer courses and the Ordnance Survey website has some great tutorials.
M is for MID WEEK ADVENTURE
Who says adventures only have to happen at the weekend and not in the week, when everyone is working or at school? It can be a refreshing break in the middle of week to escape the routine and find something and somewhere adventurous to go / do. You don’t have to travel far. Take a picnic or cook a simple meal on a gas stove while the family explore a new area, swim in a nearby lake, walk up a hill etc.
N is for NATURE
Recent reports reveal that modern children feel less connected with nature than previous generations. One reason is the amount of time spent outdoors; fewer children spend time outside than ever before. To get children to connect with nature, they need to get out and see it, smell it, listen to it, touch it (if appropriate!) and taste it (once again, if appropriate!). So, lead by example, take the family out and learn the names of common trees, the sounds of common birds, the shapes of clouds in the sky above and how to recognise different paw prints in the mud or sand.
N is for NIGHT WALK
Put on some headtorches and head out in the dark. Begin by exploring somewhere familiar. Even though you might know somewhere well, it’s a different experience at night; a more exciting experience!
N is for NATURALLY FIT
Football, tennis, swimming etc. are all good forms of exercise but alongside this children can get fit naturally in the outdoors, building up strength walking, running, climbing as well as developing strategic skills and managing risk.
O is for OUTDOORS
The outdoors isn’t called Great for no reason. Research shows that there are numerous health benefits to spending time in the outdoors; fresh air and physical exercise are good for the body but nature also reduces stress and has a positive effect on our mental well-being. Even a small amount of time outside, in the garden, is better than nothing.
O is for ORIENTEERING
Orienteering is an outdoor sport that requires you to navigate around a given area from point to point as quickly as possible. Many places offer orienteering courses which can be completed individually, in pairs or even as a family. Try it as a one-off activity or join a club and do it more regularly.
P is for PLANNING
It’s great to be spontaneous but a bit of planning does come in handy when taking a family on an adventure. Planning doesn’t have to be meticulous but checking weather conditions, suitable locations for wild camping, equipment to take etc. all makes life much easier in the long run.
P is for PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT
The best thing you can give your children is your time. Rather than sit on the peripherals and watch an activity, children will love (and benefit) from the parents getting involved.