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5 Steps To Parenting “Adventure” Into Your Kids

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

In a world where we see kids staring at 7 inches of LCD everywhere we go, mine included, it’s vital that we lift their sense of adventure up. The problem for most of us though, is that we are so far removed from any similance semblance of that word in our own lives that we wouldn’t know where to start.
I think the place to start is with the definition of adventure.
For too many of us, adventure looks like this.
20 something year olds traveling the world on a shoestring budget and documenting their adventures on instagram and youtube.
Although these young guns are definitely living an adventure, the problem lies in defining adventure as “traveling to hidden spots to kayak with orcas and posting it on histogram with VSCO’s P5 filter”.
This is not the definition of adventure.

Adventure is defined as this…
a : an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks
b : the encountering of risks
c : an exciting or remarkable experience

Notice the absence of the words mountains, cliffs, or kayake.

Now that we have that out of the way, and we understand what ADVENTURE means, we realize ADVENTURE is available to all of us.
Even our kids.
It’s essential that parents begin to instill a spirit of adventure into their kids in order for them to grow up living life and life not living them.

Here are 5 steps Heather and I use constantly in order to make sure our kids are living an adventure.

1. Remember it’s their adventure, not yours.

Each of my kids has a risk meter.
And their risk meters looks nothing like the others.
My oldest will jump off the 55 foot cliff without dad.
The middle child will jump off the 25 foot cliff with dad.
The youngest will not jump off the curb with or without dad.
So as we head into each season, we define adventure based off of their interests.
My son may not jump off a cliff but he, with fear and trembling, will now sleep in a tent when before he used to think that sleeping in a tent = getting eaten by a bear.

2. Watch their eyes.

When you are talking with your kids about adventures they would like to take, watch their eyes.
Their eyes will provide you guidance that their words never will.
When you talk about something and they get exited about it, you can tell in their eyes.
When you talk about something and they are scared of it, you can tell it in their eyes.
And when you happen to hit upon something with both excitement AND a wee bit of fear involved, you can tell it in their eyes.
Usually their mouths open just a teeny but and they halfway smile along with wide eyes.
Then they usually say no way.
This is the look you are looking for.
Oh. This also means you actually need to have conversations with your kids that start with something other than, “How was school?”

3. Don’t promise safety, promise satisfaction.

This is a hard one for me. Because I want my kids to feel safe. And of course that is your job, to keep them safe.

Last week when Losiah did not want to go on the ropes course I looked at him and said…
“Buddy. You definitely don’t have to go if you don’t want to. It is absolutely scary, I get it. But can I promise you something? When you finally get to the end, you will have this feeling inside your chest that is better than anything you have felt all week! I can’t explain it to you but when you are finished, I want you to tell me what it feels like. You will feel amazing!”
And off he went.
Why? Because he wanted to FEEL.

Every kid wants to feel.

So stop talking about safety and instead talk about satisfaction.

4. Put it on the calendar.

This may seem obvious. But it’s not. With school in session, and sports picking up, routine is on it’s way.
Routine is the enemy of adventure.


Start with one a month. On a adventure a month.
If that seems overwhelming to you, it’s probably because you still have the definition of adventure in your mind that is filled with plane tickets and backpacks.
Read the definition again, then find something that makes your kids heart pound just a tiny bit.
Then walk to the calendar and put it on it.
I promise you, if you look around your home or backyard, you will find more adventure than you thought could ever exist right in front of you.

5. Carry It Home

One of the things we have forgotten is the power of touch.
In our smart phone world, it’s so easy to document a photo or a video of our adventures.
And that’s it.
The great part is that we can see it in a second.
The not so great part is that we have become calloused to photos and videos.
We have.
Last year I was in Hong Kong hiking what felt like 423423234 miles to a secluded beach with my wife and some friends.
We took the most epic photos.
And then I heard it. “CARLOS…”
The tone in her voice carried with it a hint of “I’m about to ask you to do something you won’t want to do”.
She had found this old fishing basket on the beach.
And guess what?
Yes. We carried that stinky thing 43214242243 back to the car and then checked it ALL THE WAY BACK TO AMERICA.
But now it sits in my living room, on our adventure wall, and the memory is SO THICK.
It brought the experience home.
Be it a rock, a stick, or a receipt, carry it home.

Adventure shouldn’t be reserved for world travelers and mountaineers.
It’s available for you AND your kids too.
Live your life don’t let your life live you.
It’s better that way.
Carlos

  • howellfam4

    Good words! Keeping adventure alive is def about developing a hunger for experience, memories and beating fear! Love the Whitts!

  • Thank you for this article. As I type, it is the eve of us returning home from a week long adventure for our family. I read this article right before I left and it stuck with me throughout the whole trip. They did SO MANY firsts in their lives. I even have them bringing things home they picked up along the way to remember this trip by. And adventure? WOW. It’s the BEST vacation we’ve ever experienced together! Thank you Carlos!

  • Meghan Weyerbacher

    I love mountains but have never been. We can’t afford far away adventures and find ways to make home one so this post really touched me. All I can say is, finally. Someone understands! PS: That is really cool about your 8474636363 mile long hiking trip though lol.