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Making Memories with Family Adventures

June 1, 2010

Many of our friends know that we love to go on adventures.  Adventures are fun any time of the year, but summer is particularly great because we aren’t in school and the weather is good.
The time together on our adventures has bonded our family and brought joy and refreshment to our souls.  We seldom spend money beyond the cost of gas and a picnic, but the memories are invaluable.

Making a Plan
When the girls were young there was little money for entertainment, so we looked for ways to be creative.  We would tell the girls that on Saturday (or whatever day worked) we were going on an adventure.  We didn’t tell them what we were doing or where we were going.  (That way if things didn’t work out, we could choose an alternative plan without disappointing them!)  Our adventures today aren’t always a surprise, but they’re always full of fun.
We usually pack a picnic lunch to eat along the way.  The same food we eat in our kitchen seems much more exciting when we’re sitting on a blanket under a tree.  Our traditional and simple picnic lunch: chicken salad, loaf of bread, bag of carrots, bag of grapes.  We usually have those items on hand, they’re easy to pack, and the sandwiches are easy to assemble at our picnic.  (Sometimes I throw in an unexpected sweet treat!)  Because we pack the same things each time, everyone knows the drill and can help.

Choose a Destination
Most of our adventures are free (or very cheap!) and close to home (an hour or less drive).  We chose the simple pleasures of life and things that our special to our area—a walk on the beach, a ride on a car ferry, a hike at the arboretum, a climb up a lighthouse, or a walk in Williamsburg.  The goal is not to “wow” the kids but just to enjoy life together.  Here are some other resources to help you choose adventure destinations:

Summer Fun Jar
I asked the girls to dictate to me the activities they wanted to do and I recorded them on slips of paper.  (Ex.  Go rollerskating, go to the park, paint, have a hair salon, play a marathon Phase 10 game with all 10 phases…)  Many activities were just fun things to do around the house and others were more like adventures.  We put these slips of paper in an old tin and named it the “Summer Fun Jar,” though it wasn’t a jar at all!  We continued to add activities until summer break arrived.
During the free days of our summer, we took turns choosing a slip of paper from the “Summer Fun Jar.”  The paper chosen revealed the adventure of the day.  Some days it was just us girls, but Dad joined us for the adventures away from home.
If you don’t feel that you have enough time to create your own “Summer Fun Jar,” you can purchase Summer Fun, our collection of family-friendly boredom busters for fun-filled adventures. Nearly every card in this book represents a slip of paper that was in our “Fun Jar” or an activity that we’ve done as a family. Ideas are divided into categories by color of paper: sunny day (yellow), rainy day (gray), requires money (green), ministry opportunities (white), and girlie activities (pink).  Other activities are listed by regions in PA, MD, VA and NC (purple).  We’ve also included some blank cards for you to add your own activities.  Since the online store is temporarily under construction, you can order Summer Fun by calling Daughters 4 God at 757.472.1897.

Letterboxing
If you like searching for hidden treasure, letterboxing is for you!  People around the world hide plastic boxes (think: Glad disposable).  Your job is to find the hidden box using the clues posted online.
Getting started is simple.  At letterboxing.org you’ll find several options on the home page.  There’s a “getting started” article as well as a “search for boxes” option that sends you to a page where you’ll enter your geographic information.  Choosing by region narrows your choices more specifically to your geographic area.  Click on the name of the box to link to the clues.  Use the “Print View” option on their website for a printable version of the clues.  Before you begin your hunt, bring your printed clues, a small notebook and a stamp you would use to make a craft—not the US mail type!
When you locate the box, you’ll find a treasure inside.  Each box usually has a stamp (many hand-carved), a stamp pad and a small notebook.  Your job is to use their stamp to stamp your notebook.  Then use your stamp to make an entry in their notebook.  Sometimes we remember to bring our stamp and sometimes we don’t.  Instead of a stamp, we always sign our names and where we’re from.
If you enjoy letterboxing, you may also enjoy hiding a box and creating the clues.  We also thought it would be cool to have a specific “family stamp” to use for our letterboxing adventures.  Maybe someone in your family could carve a stamp with symbols that reflect your family.
While doing some research for this article, I also discovered another letterboxing website: www.atlasquest.com.  We’ve never used this website, but I found that some clues from the letterboxing site are linked to the Atlas Quest site.  Same basic idea with basic information to get started and a way to search boxes, though there are more specific descriptions about your location including the length of the hike, whether it is bike friendly or pet friendly, and whether it is in a fee area.
Our family has been on several letterboxing adventures in our hometown as well as in a neighboring state.  We were unable to find a few of the boxes, but the directions led us to discover some beauty of God’s creation that we would’ve otherwise missed if we hadn’t been searching for a plastic box!

Summer 2010…
As the girls grow older, our summer has quickly filled with jobs and other commitments. There are fewer days available for adventures.  It is with fondness that I look back on those special family times.  I anxiously look forward to the few unplanned days of our summer when we can pick a card from the “Summer Fun Jar” and go on yet another Moore Family Adventure.

Post a comment to this article and tell us about your letterboxing experiences or your fun family adventures.

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