Our Amazing Low-Tech Adventure with the Kids
The kids had Monday off, and with any day off of school, I was freaking out over figuring out what to do with them. You know the feeling. Holy Pizza Pie! I’m going to have the kids home ALL DAY with no school, no camp, no scheduled activities. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO!!!??? Think! Think!! THINK!!! There must be something we can go do!
I ran thru the usual list of options. Disneyland? Too expensive. Beach? Too cold. Movies? Too short. Museum? Too cerebral. Besides, they were going to the museum the next day on a field trip at school. I had to think of something! Something new. Something different. Something fun!
And I was not alone in my struggle. My good friend Heidi was in the same boat. Let’s do something together, we decided. But what? LORD HELP US!
Then I remembered. During spring break I took the kids for a hike and they loved it. I suggested we take our collective group of 5 kids, pack a picnic and go hike a trail somewhere. “Love it,” she responded. So I set out to find the perfect trail.
The criteria? I needed a hike that was relatively close. It couldn’t be more than 4 miles long. It couldn’t be too steep. And, it had to have something cool to explore. I found a spot, Temescal Canyon just outside of Santa Monica.
We put together a quick backpack filled with nibbles and water and hit the road. Within 30 minutes we were parked and on our way up the trail. At first we were a little worried one of the kids might wander off as they race ahead on the trail, but with a little reminding they quickly adapted to our stop and wait rule every time we hollered. From that point on for the next 3 hours, the kids were totally engaged.
Every hole in the brush was the home of some wild animal. Every rock was a rare gem. Every canyon held a mystery. Rocks, sticks, leaves, branches, were inspected, collected, shared and compared. Each kid had a turn being line leader. Each kid had take turns helping carry the gear. Each kid was involved in our decisions on which trails to take. Each kid squealed in delight when we came upon the waterfall, which Heidi and I had kept secret so that they would feel the full enjoyment of discovering it. And then, after working up a good sweat and fending off the kids begging to know how much further to the top, we arrived at the summit. And the awe in the kids eyes and voices was magical, each one looking out across the view pointing things out. “There’s downtown!” “There’s the pier!” “There’s Daddy’s office!” “There’s Catalina!” They beamed with an amazing sense of power having climbed up so high and being able to see for so far. It was great.
When the excitement started to wane, we sat and enjoyed our well earned lunch before heading back down. While we descended the mountain, Heidi and I both observed how amazing it is that you can fully engage your kids in nature with no rides, no lights, no special effects, and no fast moving objects. By taking them someplace where they could use their bodies and stimulate their senses, with plenty room for their imagination to take hold, we had succeeded in entertaining them fully. And all for no money what so ever, unless you count the $7 parking fee.
You hear parents complain that kids are addicted to action movies, video games and over stimulation, but unless we’re willing to find something else to engage them, we’re the ones to blame. So my recommendation for the week…take your kids on a hike. Let the outdoors be the canvas for their imagination. You’ll witness amazing things. And don’t forget the other added benefit…You get your workout in, too!