My 3 year old grandson Bear had a sleep over with Grandma this past weekend. He loves flipping thru the pictures in the adventure travel brochures I have stacked in my office.
One photo in particular really intrigued him. It was a photo of folks camping in "tents" off the side of the Andes mountains at Skytop Lodge in Peru.
In typical "Give A Mouse A Cookie" fashion, we pulled out our little tent from the garage for an impromtu camping trip. We used a flashlight to look thru my photo book from my own trip to Peru. Bear especially like my stories about the Llama, Alpaca & Vicunas, especially the ones pictured with me at Machu Picchu. By then it was time for a snack. As I pulled my chrome toaster out of the cabinet to make some peanut butter toast, his eyes lit up and he went "WHOA" as if he had just encountered an alien space ship.
Bear reminded me that when you're a kid EVERYTHING is a new and exciting adventure - even making toast. Just like kids, the dream of adventures start off small but then they can grow into a world of possibilities. As parents and grandparents, it is our duty and privlege to fan that flame of discovery. Our reward is the ultimate joy of re-discovering the world around us thru the eyes of our children.
Of course there are those intrepid, fearless parents out there that embrace adventure travel with their kids. When I am in their presence I am in awe. Wonder and enchantment for them comes from the universe, not a theme park. That is the legacy they want to pass down to the next generations.
My friend Charles Scott immediately pops to mind. Charles is this enthusiastic bundle of joy who has cycled with his young children across Japan, Iceland and the Lewis & Clark trail. Charle's important inspirational message to parents needs to be heard loud and clear. He says "Kids do not know their own limits until an adult tells them they cannot do something".
Most mortal parents don't have Charle's stamina or legs to scale the Rocky mountains pulling kids on a bike. None the less, we shouldn't limit that sense of wonder, discovery and the reward of accomplishment in our children. Dreams can start from the smallest of ideas and can grow beyond expectations with just a little encouragement.
Parenthood itself the world's great adventure trip. It's one thrill ride after another and yes, it can be daunting and seem overwhelming at times. But please remember while you're changing diapers and struggling over mealtime, remind yourself that you are raising the next world citizen. Try to keep your eye on the big picture.
Travel is a learned life skill. It's something we need to teach our children just like we teach them to brush their teeth or use a fork. If you're one of those cautious parents with dreams of exploring the world with your children, be fearless. Share your dreams with your kids. Start small and grow your accomplishments together. Remember to let them lead you into their world so you can discover what sparks their passions.
If you have big family adventure dreams of your own but do not know where to begin, start by speaking to a family travel agent. Often a bit of experience and guidence can save you hours of wasted time wandering aimlessly through the internet and worrying if you're doing the right thing. A family travel agent can help insure that your next family adventure is age appropriate and perfectly fits your wish list, abilities and budget.
I don't think my daughter will let me take Bear camping off the side of a cliff in Peru any time soon. That said, Bear will certainly will go camping this summer, do some hiking in the nearby mountains and hunt for some dinosaur fossils. In a few years from now when he's ready for the altitude and has steady legs for all the uneven steps...Machu Picchu here we come.