We have a tradition in our family that when each child turns ten they get a special trip with mom (for the girls) or dad (for the boys). This has been something that we save for, look forward to, and plan extensively. In a large family like ours it provides a time that each child can look forward to having prolonged uninterrupted one on one time, something that can seem elusive in a house filled with children.
My son Zane and I are currently planning his. He has always been fascinated with Alaska and so we are working on putting together a trip to Denali for a two or three night backpack. Working on this has been a lot of fun as we sort through campgrounds to stay at, arrange transportation, think about gear we will need, flip through guidebooks, and imagine what sort of adventures we’re going to have.
It was in the process of working through this that I began to think of how few families get the opportunity to experience something like this. The prior trips with my boys (Wyatt and I rafted the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Colter and I spent a week canoeing the Boundary Waters in Minnesota) have been extraordinary, leaving memories that we continue to talk about.
In fact, it seems that each of these trips have been something that the whole family has been able to later experience together. It was a trip down the Middle Fork that got us into rafting. Now we take multiple overnight or longer rafting trips per year as a family. Following Colter’s trip to the Boundary Waters we decided for the eight of us to do an eight day paddle there. Zane and I are now joking how long it will take before we haul the whole crew up to Alaska.
So, how can you put together something like this for your family? First, it’s never too late, For us it was a ten year old trip, for you it may be a 14 year old or 17 year old trip. The important thing is to try and do it before the responsibilities of life keep your child from being able to take enough time off to make it meaningful. Second, think about a new experience that you can both share. It may be mountain biking in Moab, hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, exploring Yellowstone. The key is to think a little outside the box for your family. Third, start saving now. Unfortunately, travel is expensive and if you need a guide or to rent gear it can start to add up. Think about ways to save money (Zane’s and my plane tickets and hotel the first and last nights are all on credit card points). Finally, pick a date and start dreaming.
The “ten year old trip” has a been a life and relationship affirming event for our family and I hope that you too and experience the bonding created by taking time with your kids.