I have found myself reflecting on the value of adventure and summer camp the last few weeks. Images of adventure clog our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and snap chat channels every day. They give us, and sadly, our children a false sense of exploration. We find ourselves living life vicariously through pictures of others’ lives. In most cases, we mumble about adding something to a bucket list we never will or intend on taking action. What is true: a picture of adventure can never replace true adventure, and true adventure makes us all better people. When I was a child, adventure could be found around every corner. Filling my childhood were days of climbing trees, playing in streams, swimming, hiking, summer camp or just simply playing make-believe with friends. Every day was a new an unknown adventure in imagination. It gave me a sense of wonder in the world around me. I am also of a generation that saw the introduction of video games, cell phones, computers, the internet and social media. I am the first to say there is great value in all of these things. However, I believe they have come at the expense of everyday adventure. A waterfall in the past that you could only see if you hiked to it. Now it is easily displayed across the internet and in some cases in virtual reality.
True adventure teaches us things such as drive, self-reliance, willpower, patience, connection, passion, optimism, self-confidence, and communication. Interestingly enough, these traits match directly with the traits of truly successful people. One take away is that adventure, big or small, can create more successful and happy people. Every great explorer that ventured into the world required a benefactor to fund and support their trip. As parents, we are benefactors of our children. We have a responsibility to facilitate adventure in their lives. We should encourage the separation from the often warped and sometimes false world the internet and social media creates. Create opportunities for our children to be eyes-up into the wonderful real world around them. Adventure is not always sailing around the world or even climbing the highest mountain. I define adventure as an exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes scary undertaking that is outside of our normal life and ultimately rewards us with joy or growth. For children, this can be as simple as a trip to a local playground with a parent or friends. Children can create an untold number of imaginary adventures around a simple slide when given the opportunity.
I am acutely aware that the world we now live in is neither as free nor as safe as the perceived world of my childhood. The changing world, however, can and should not be an excuse for a parent to resist seeking out opportunities for their children. As the director of a summer camp, I am all too aware of the more and more limited venues for these types of adventure. In reflecting on this, I also realize how much summer camps across the country serve the purpose of being purveyors of safe and positive adventures to our children. At Circle F Dude Ranch Camp alone, a child can experience climbing, horseback riding, swimming, theater, arts and crafts, and a multitude of other daily adventures. Camps have truly become one of the last safe places for parents to allow a child’s imagination to grow and also has the tools to support that growth. In the coming weeks, I intend to write more posts on how to use adventure in your everyday life to stimulate the growth of your child at home. I hope that you follow along and add your suggestions. Together we might just provide a more exciting and stimulating life then any facebook post could. Adventure is calling all of us….We all must go.