As a mom of three, I am always looking for family activities that are both fun and educational. When it comes to planning that much-anticipated getaway, I often find myself searching for new places to visit -- museums, historical sites, and the opportunity to immerse them in a different culture often top the list. I admit, I'm always trying to find ways to make them think they are simply having fun exploring, when in reality they are also learning all sorts of new things.
Recently, I was talking with some friends and fellow parents, and we ended up on the subject of lessons we teach our children without even knowing it. After that, I began to think about all of the things that my husband and I have taught our children on the lakes and trails of the Adirondack Mountains. From fishing and hiking, to simply spending a day at the beach, the life lessons a child can learn while connecting with nature (and one another) can be the most empowering lessons any parent can wish to teach their child.
10 important lessons your child can learn in the Adirondacks
NOTE: All of the following photos are of 100% authentic Adirondack kids enjoying their natural habitat. Not one of these photos was staged. The photos were taken by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the town of Tupper Lake recreation department simply with the intent of capturing the moment. Thank you to all of our contributors for sharing photos of their beautiful children with us.
Seriously, can you think of a better way to teach your children patience than fishing? Together you cast the line into the water, and you hear the splash it makes when it hits the surface and vanishes out of sight. Then you wait! Sometimes you wait a few minutes, sometimes you can wait the whole day, but when it finally happens...you feel a tug...you have a bite! This is when the magic happens and you see the expression on their face the first time they pull that fish from the water. So, in fact, good things DO come to those who wait.
In life, having the ability to pause and reflect on your actions and accomplishments is an invaluable skill. I notice my children doing this, often without even realizing it, when we are out for a hike. We are on a canopy-covered trail, there is a break in the tree line, and you can sneak a peek of the view. They pause and notice how high we are and how far we have traveled. A sense of accomplishment washes over their faces and they take off again, eager to get to the top.
To me, this photo says a thousand words. My colleague showed it to me, pleased to show off how excited her adorable little niece was to find a puddle. She was wondering why her niece was so fascinated with the puddle. If you look closely at the photo you can see the reflection of a beautiful little girl looking back up at the toddler. The adults may have overlooked the puddle as just another puddle, but this little girl was looking with a keen eye and found beauty in the ordinary. Pay attention, you never know just what you might miss! So, in this case, I think the child may have taught the adults a little lesson.
4. Self confidence and determination
This photo may be from Tupper Lake's annual Watermelon Eating Contest, but this lesson on determination can be learned in so many ways in the 'dacks. From trying something new like learning to SUP, to hiking your first mountain, self confidence and determination are traits every parent hopes to instill in their child.
Ask any parent what they want for their child, and the most common response you hear is happiness! Happy kids are more likely to be successful, accomplished adults. Help them find what makes them happy and encourage them to do more of it.
Albert Einstein once stated: "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." Curiosity helps to fuel imagination and creative thinking. Encourage your children to follow their curiosity and find the answers to the questions that are rattling around in their heads.
7. Experience life!
In a time when people spend more and more time being entertained by television, video games, computers, and that hand-held device we never seem to be able to set down, it is important to remember that the best stories are those we create for ourselves. Get them out there to write their own adventure.
Dinner time is family time! We know the importance of eating together as a family and the way it strengthens communication channels between you and your children, but have you ever considered bringing a campfire into the equation? Try it, and use it as a way to show them the power of communicating and engaging (beyond a text message).
The ability to focus in an increasingly busy world is critical. Teach your children to walk along a trail limiting the noise beneath their feet, and ask them what they can hear. If they are quiet, they will be amazed by the number of sounds they can hear at once. They will hear the wind rustling through the trees, the birds communicating from a treetop, they may even discover the sound of running water from a babbling creek they did not know the trail was about to cross. The ability to listen and focus is a skill all parents, teachers, employers, and partners can appreciate and want to see in a person.
No matter where your adventures take you, remember it is about the time you are spending together. The bonds that form as you create lifetime memories together are simply priceless. If there is one life lesson that I think is most importance to teach my children, it's that they are important, special people and that family time is my priority. There is nothing in the world that is better than spending time with those you love.
Visit and share with your family
These are just some of the many important lessons you can teach a child while playing together in the Adirondacks. Consider creating a lesson plan of your own, as you enjoy an Adirondack getaway with your family this season. Spend time together together as you hike up a nearby mountain, swim the afternoon away at the beach, fish into the evening hours at your favorite fishing hole, and then end your days sharing stories and toasting marshmallows over the campfire. Remember, your vacation itinerary will not only leave your children walking away with great memories of a fun family vacation, but it may also teach them empowering life lessons that they can carry with them for a lifetime. Don't wait...start planning your getaway before another season passes you by!