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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

finding LIFE in ADVENTURE

                                                 *** A BLAST FROM THE PAST ***
                         This article was published in the Feb 2011 issue of Take 5 Magazine

Years ago I recall reading something about families making mission statements.  Creating a few words to several paragraphs that set the philosophical basis and direction of the family.  I did not have children at the time and dismissed the idea thinking it was goofy.  Who has time for that?  Fast forward to life with kids and apparently I have the time.  For the past two years I have come up with a mission statement of sorts.  A few words that I use as inspiration for things we do as a family.  With outdoor adventure taking up most of our family time, the mission statements have been created specifically for that. 

In 2009 it was “Adventures in BC.”  The children were turning 4 and 2 years old.  Any where we went was an adventure.  I remember walking through Hemer Park with a 2 year old screaming 10 yards behind us.  How were we ever going to hike any great distance with crying children?  Adventures in BC kept us going…it was an adventure and we were in BC.  Over time the crying decreased and the distances travelled grew.  That year we tried new things like surfing, canoeing, and biking.  That’s when I thought there was something to this mission statement idea after all.

2010 was inspired in part by the Olympics, “Spirit of Adventure.”  I wanted to capture the children’s spirit and our passion for adventure.  Like the athletes competing for gold, we started every outing with a goal and did our best to achieve it.  We surfed some more, snow shoed for the first time and canoed on a cold wet afternoon.  And this was just the January activities!  Our spirits kept us going in all kinds of weather and situations.  We had our first family bear encounter, backpacked our first multi day hiking trip, and got caught in rain one too many times.  I really believe if I did not have these three words to reflect upon, we would never have done half of the things we did. 

So here we are…2011, time for a new mission statement.  I struggled with this one, mostly due to the fact I was not ready to let go of 2010.  The children will be turning 6 and 4 years old this year.  They are full of curiosity and life.  That’s when I came up with “finding LIFE in ADVENTURE”.  The phrase has many meanings.  Life itself is an adventure or adventure can bring new life and find perspective.  For us it will be finding five living creatures on every adventure.  To seek out and learn about organisms such as animals, plants, fungus, or micro-organisms.  The only rule I will enforce is not picking the first five plants or trees we see and never the same living creature twice.  Ok, that is two rules.  There needs to be some adventure to it. 

Before 2011 was official, I tested our mission out just to be sure it could be done.  With family in tow, we hiked local trails like Jack Point and Hemer Park.  I drove everybody nuts by constantly reminding them of the mission.  Clearly I was sceptical that the children would not be interested let alone find anything exciting in mid December.  My motherly rants were quickly muted.  Living creatures were among us everywhere.  It was fun and easy to find and identify five living creatures.  Some living creatures required a bit of research afterwards in order to identify, like the pipefish.  Others were easy to identify, like the giant earthworm slithering under our feet while we were having a snack.  What I found was the children were captivated and interested in the finds no matter how common or rare.   Mission accomplished. 

Being a list type of person, I have started recording all our finds.  Where we were and what we found.  It also helps reinforce the no creature twice rule.  What I did not expect was how difficult it is to identify organisms.  A tree is not just a tree.  Nor is a fish just a fish.  What I am now faced with is hours of researching the exact species of tree or fish.  The more I investigate the more species I uncover.  I definitely do not have the time for that.  So now I am researching a backpack for the dog so he can carry the dozen or so books I require to identify the living creatures we find.

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