Written by Emmy R. Kegler
Summertime can mean adventures on the road -- but adventure isn’t just “out there” but also in our own backyards! Adventure is all about brave participation in the unknown. Teaching our kids to take chances and seek out new experiences is an essential part of the courage needed for human flourishing and for faithful living. You can help your kids be ready for anything (well, almost anything!) with some of these activities.
- Be prepared! Before you head out for summer adventures, have your kids help you pack your bag. Do you need sunscreen? an umbrella? water bottles (always a hearty yes to water bottles!)? Kids can help with planning, packing, and carrying what you’ll need for the day. As you travel to your destination, ask: how else do we prepare for our day? What do we pack in our mental bags to help us be ready for anything?
- Read on! Visit your local library. This is a great habit to get into especially during the summer, when libraries provide relief from heat and boredom. Let your kids pick out the books (or music or movies) they want, but also invite them to try something they normally wouldn’t try. Have a voracious reader check out a graphic novel; have your fantasy fiend try historical fiction; nudge your movie lover into some books based on their favorite series.
- Start a conversation! At your local park or playground, remind your kids to keep their eyes open for children playing alone. Some kids like to be by themselves, but others don’t know how to make new friends -- especially if they’re in unfamiliar territory. Ask your kids, “How can we help them feel welcome?” Suggest inviting them to a specific activity (making a sand castle, etc) or sharing toys.
- Dive in! At the pool, have your kids take the next step in their swimming adventures. Blowing bubbles underwater, learning to dog paddle, floating without a life vest, or diving down to catch sinking toys are all steps towards being brave and capable swimmers. If you have a “fish” in the family, check out your local YMCA or other community organization for lessons that can help them get even better!
- Find your own adventure! When kids head to summer camp, they discover all kinds of new and unknown opportunities. Help them reflect on how they practiced their bravery each day. In the car or over dinner, ask: What new thing did you do today? Did you like it? Would you try it the same way again or do something different?
- Explore your faith! Try an activity at church that you haven’t done before -- especially if you can do it as a family. Are there volunteer roles you could try out this summer, like ushering or serving communion together? If you go on vacation, find a church to visit on Sunday and talk about it after. What was the same as your home church? What was different?
- Adventure is all around! Bravely trying new things happens every day. Whether it’s eating a new food, welcoming new neighbors, or just learning a new chore to help around the house, your kids are learning from you how to have patience and courage when trying something new. As you challenge and encourage them, they’ll keep growing both in their skills and in their self-confidence!