As a family of five very different individuals, we have learned to embrace our differences, even celebrate them.
When it comes to common interests, we’re not doing as well.
As the children get older and grow into their own tastes and personalities, we’re finding it increasingly challenging to find activities/hobbies that we can all take part in and enjoy together. Perhaps you’ve experienced the same?
While we have been on the lookout for such an activity for longer than I care to admit, I never expected to find the answer on a Compassion trip to Honduras in 2010. In fact, I didn't think I had found it at all until this past week.
One of our trip leaders is really into geocaching with her family, who happened to travel with her. I found myself listening intently while they talked about this activity they all enjoyed doing together. I loved the concept, and the potential for variety and adventure. I was eager to talk to the kids about it when I returned home.
When I did explain it to the kids, they were curious but it didn’t seem to really strike a chord with them. I had thought for sure that at the least, our army-mission-trailblazin’ oldest son Brandon (15) would have been the most eager to try it, but I seemed to be the only enthusiastic one.
While it seemed like a dead end, my enthusiasm persisted. There was only one small issue: I didn’t want to do this alone. This was meant to be a family activity.
I put my desires on a shelf, and prayed for opened doors while the dust collected.
When the boys stumbled unexpectedly upon the geocache closest to our home a while later, the geocaching bug nibbled... and seemingly fizzled.
As our Brandon’s birthday approached this year, I thought of a recent conversation in which he, his brother Joshua (13) and I spoke about our growing need for a fun family activity. I decided to take a step of faith and buy him a used handheld GPS eTrex Vista C, hoping he would try geocaching and enjoy it. Even more so, I hoped we could all take part in this activity as a family. At the least, he’d use it for hiking and add it to his “army gear”. It, uhm, wouldn't hurt that I could borrow it and go geocaching while running! *grin*
When the GPS came, I explained to the rest of the family what I had bought Brandon as a birthday gift. The youngest two kids listened as I explained, and asked many questions. It was obvious that the more they heard, the more enthusiastic they became.
I asked Joshua to help me figure out how to use the GPS so that we could make sure it worked well. At least that was the story. We knew what we weren’t admitting out loud -- he and I were both too eager to wait until mid-September to try it.
And so one treasure hunter turned into two.
We created a family account at www.geocaching.com, (RichardsonZoo), learned the basics, and started uploading a handful of nearby geocaches to the GPS. Since Brandon wasn’t home, the youngest two and I decided to try our first geocaching adventure. Joshua had already seen the first geocache, so we decided to use the GPS to officially find it more as an opportunity to learn how to use the GPS than anything else. In no time, we were navigating the GPS features with ease and before we even reached the geocache area, we were already planning our next outings.
We found the first cache, and easily gained another enthusiast when our youngest, Jillian (10) saw the trinkets that could be found inside a cache. She has always been the first to jump in to any family activity, but add tiny treasures, and she's like a bloodhound chasing a rabbit.
Two turned into three... that makes majority! So far, so good.
Back home, we logged our find on the website and downloaded more local caches. The following day, we logged four more finds.
We're already brainstorming for ways that we can create our first geocache, perhaps making it a yearly tradition for Brandon's birthday. I wondered at first how he'd feel about his gift being something to share with the whole family, but those feelings were short lived. He loves the adventures we have together and craves more. He also treasures family time, so now that there are three of us involved, he's more likely to join in.
Reflecting back on the success of this new activity, I couldn’t help but feel as though the treasures weren’t in the caches we were pursuing like modern day treasure hunters. No, nothing we could ever find in the coming days, weeks, months or even years of geocaching adventures will ever compare to the priceless treasure of family time.
Three out of five so far... will this activity end up being a five out of five? So far, my husband has not expressed any interest at all, which has really disappointed the youngest two, but perhaps in time, he will see how it's knitting the family together, and he won't want to miss out.
It definitely has potential.