Family adventure vacations may stretch your comfort zone but they are guaranteed to bind your family together as you experience outdoor adventures together.
Many adults are returning to their roots. While some cut their teeth in the woods, caught their first fish in a mountain stream, and took their first hike shortly after they learned to walk, many have never spent enough time in pure nature to become comfortable. However, an increasing number are connecting or reconnecting with the outdoors.
Why The Renewed Interest?
New studies show the benefits of outdoor recreation. While children have been the primary subject, studies are revealing cross-generational rewards. Many green groups are stressing the need to develop the next generation of caretakers. Furthermore, our new administration has expressed interest in promoting interaction between people and nature. Thus a new trend is beginning; family's interested in nature. An adventure vacation is a great way to enjoy nature together.
Why An Adventure Vacation?
Adventure vacations do more than strengthen our ties with our natural surroundings. They also intensify family bonds. An adventure vacation takes us out of our comfort zone. This does not mean you have to scale rock walls, take on class four rapids, or hike deep into the wilderness without adequate provisions. It does mean you will go without some of the ‘norms' - central heat and air, cell phones, lap tops, and the like. It also means you will spend time outside your natural environment.
The more you up the ante, the more your adventure vacation will test each family member's mettle. As you face difficulties, discomforts or unfamiliar situations, your family will be forced to exercise team spirit. As you work together your family bond will be enhanced.
Most adventure vacations come with someone else to do the work. When someone else handles the chores, every family member gets to relax. This frees you to play together. It provides time to renew and reopen communication. While an vacation can offer of this benefit, adventure vacation also add other bonuses.
Adventure vacations not only take you out of your comfort zone, they put you into a dramatically different location. Instead of American suburbia a working cattle ranch. Instead of your local subdivision a remote mountain resort. Instead of rush hour a racing river. Instead of a hallway a wilderness hike. Whatever your choice, your location will effect your perspective, which in turn will allow you to take a new look at life and each other.
What To Leave Behind?
Sometimes it is what you leave behind which is most important. When you abandon home for the wilds, cast off your modern accessories. Look for a location which offers no television, no telephone, no Internet access, no shopping mall, no iPods or game boys. In other words, leave behind the conveniences which control your life and consume your time. This will prove highly beneficial in bringing your family together. Besides, we all need to learn we are not indispensable.
What Are The Benefits?
You and your family will gain more from an adventure vacation than you might realize. Significant time spent outdoors reduces our stress, thrills our senses, and provides us with unique challenges and stimulating rewards.
Furthermore, people who step away from the world for awhile find they return with improved mental and physical well-being. Time in nature tends to provide perspective for our problems, increase our feelings of safety, quiet our minds, and reduce our anxiety. Furthermore, the great outdoors increases our ability to visualize, strengthens our use of our sense, and reduces our overall boredom.
Others have suggested outdoor based activities increase problem solving skills, boost our complex decision making capabilities, strengthen our critical thinking ability, and expand our decision making proficiency. Nature often works as a salve for our body, mind, and spirit. We feel more free, and we have opportunities to experience real privacy - to think, to feel, to just be.
These benefits have been experienced by numerous adventure vacation participants regardless of age or background. However, often the most underrated benefit is the change in a child's perception of their parents. Today's families are divided by time, schedule, and varying interests. This can be a major contributor to attitude problems. We spend so little time together, we rarely fully understand or appreciate one other.
Adventure vacations, instead of pitting family members against each other, put them into situations which encourage them to work together toward a common goal. Such situations often open our eyes to character strengths we had never noticed. Furthermore, when children watch their parents step out of their comfort zone, they see them not as stodgy old folks, but as adventurous risk takers willing to do what it takes.
Does It Really Matter?
It is only a vacation. What difference does it really make? The family is an integral and fundamental societal unit. Studies have shown a direct correlation between strong and successful families and time spent enjoying outdoor recreation together.
Adventure activities have proven so effective, they are being used to treat dysfunctional families. In each case, families who enjoy outdoor adventures together are coming away enriched personally and as a whole.
Adventure vacations create a unique freedom unmatched by other excursions. When you backpack three or four or ten miles into the wilderness, you are just ‘there'. The distractions are erased. The focus hones in on your family's ability to work and play together.
When you add it all up, there really is no comparison. The benefits of an adventure vacation are obvious. You benefit. Your children benefit. Your family benefits. Society benefits. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
While adventure vacations do not have to be ‘scary', they will stretch you. They will make you do things you normally would not. As a result you will come home a better and more rounded person.