The Role of the Outdoors in the Life of a Family
When we started this website in 2008, one of my sons was 15 and the other 18. They were still kids, and the way I thought of the role of the outdoors in the life of our family was a little different than it is now.
Our kids are 24 and going on 27 now, the older one is married...still no grandchildren. But, as you can imagine, the dynamic where mom and dad plan trips and outings, with perhaps a pinch of input from kids, is long past. Another big difference is that in many cases, the whole clan cannot be together due to some scheduling conflict on the part of one or another of us.
Our last gathering was a trip to Colorado. This was a gathering that almost did not happen. My recollection is that the initial idea for the trip was hatched by Daniel (oldest son). He asked me about it and I was all in... Not long after setting a tentative date, Daniel hit some roadblocks in his planning and it looked like he and Courtney were not going to be able to make it. I had never really planned that David (youngest son) would be available as he is a grad student doing forestry research, and summer is pretty much when that gets done.
But first, David said to me he really wanted to go. Then, the next thing I hear...Daniel and Courtney ARE going. So, this trip to climb one or more Colorado 14ers went from a vague plan in Daniel's mind...to maybe just a trip where I went by myself, back to an almost fully family affair.
The trip was in the end awesome. The logistics were that I went out on a Wednesday (leave
home 5 AM and arrive at camping area at 6:30 PM) and established camp, and bringing all of David, Daniel, and Courtney's gear out with me. So this arrangement made it possible for them to walk onto a plane in St. Louis on a Friday evening...no carryons or luggage...easy. On Frontier, with no extras, the RT fare was under $200 each. In the end, that was really the only costs they had, as I picked them up at the airport and transported them to our camp at 11,200+ feet...and all meals were in camp. (For more on the trip, see "Family Mountaineering" in related posts)
The point is that even though things can get messier due to competing schedules and family challenges, these times of sharing the outdoors as a family can continue. The effort level will increase as kids mature and get jobs and get married and have their own kids... It may even be...actually almost certainly will be true...that the frequency of these gatherings will decrease.
That is ok, to be expected, and normal. But, this dynamic will, or at least can, make the times you do get together all the more special. We do tend to value the things in the world that are more scarce. So, as you move to this phase of family life, make certain that you do not miss chances and that when you do get together, you use that time to be special...