When my husband and I were planning our most recent vacation--which always involves hiking--I told him I needed a new backpack. When he asked me what kind I was looking for, the words that instantly came out of my mouth surprised both of us: “An adventure backpack!”
An adventure backpack doesn’t house an iPad, reader, tablet, or laptop. Instead, it carries binoculars for observing God’s creation, bug spray (for keeping God’s creation at a safe distance), sunscreen, water, snacks, a hat, maybe a thin rain jacket to wad up in the bottom of the pack just in case, and a puzzle book or old-school family card game. Another item which a dear friend introduced me to is a travel journal. I recently spotted four Finback whales, one harbor seal, two moose, a juvenile bald eagle, and seven loons--all documented in my journal to bring back great memories.
Adventure backpacks long to hit the hiking trails and boardwalks of our state and national parks. And so do we. In a world where screens consume more and more of our lives, the great outdoors provides adventure for the little guys and peace and rejuvenation for the adults. The national parks are uniquely American, but time and finances do not always allow for them--so go for the state parks! The travel time can be a more adventurous over-nighter or a simpler, quicker foray for beginners. Either way, families are enjoying travel time together and learning more about their world. As technology has ushered in a universe of information, our worlds of personal experience (and the wisdom gained from that experience) have begun to shrink. Children love to--and need to--learn by immersion and observation. The state parks in Florida, alone, offer boardwalks, hiking, swimming, camping, fishing, forts, lighthouses, and beaches. That’s a lot of adventure for a 2.00 admission ticket.
Why not pencil in one weekend a month to explore a new park? It may even inspire your next family vacation to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or one of our many spectacular national parks and monuments. Nothing tops the memories of family road trips or the real education and experience we--and our children--gain by exploring America and God’s creation. An adventure backpack carries bug spray and sunscreen for the day--and knowledge, understanding, and beauty for a lifetime.