Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to take so much planning to get my own kids to run wild outside and entertain themselves. Last summer we traveled to Maine with my family, and I had visions of a vacation spent outdoors watching the kids play in the surf while I read a good book or two. But, with 8 adults and 6 kids, it was a little more challenging than one might think. And, in an effort to find our own relaxation, we didn’t protest much when the kids spent way too much time on their iPads.
It left me wondering why we endured the pain of air travel with small children, when they may as well have been sitting on the couch at home playing their games. (Well, I did get to dine on freshly caught lobster every night, so that’s probably why.)
So this summer as we planned for our family vacation to Northern Wisconsin, my husband and I were determined not to let iPads take over. We agreed with the other adults that we’d try our best to institute an “electronics after dinner only” rule. But, that meant finding some way to entertain the kids. They couldn’t exactly “run wild,” I am, after all, an extremely overprotective mom, and we were on a lake with a boat and camp fires and bugs and eagles and all other forms of danger. (I’m being a teensy bit dramatic, but not about the eagle, he was totally circling us and eyeing my daughter for an afternoon snack.)
In an effort to give the kids an activity that didn’t require constant adult intervention, my husband had the great idea of creating a scavenger hunt. It was something all the kids could participate in, and they could work on it the whole week, including on the drive up. The drive was about 6 hours each way, so passing time in the car was key. We came up with a lengthy list of things to see/catch/build, and the kids loved it. They ended up forming teams based on the cars they drove up in, and it started quite the competition. They did everything from catching fish to building forts and burying each other in the sand. Here’s the one we created.
This could be easily personalized for any vacation location, and can be done as a competition or the whole family can pitch and do it together. We’ve already started a list of additional items we’ll include next time around.
It took a little bit of preparation in the beginning, but was an extra little element that everyone enjoyed throughout our trip, and hopefully it helped create some memorable moments for the kids. Call me old fashioned, but I’m pretty sure catching a slimy toad from under a rock with your bare hands is more memorable than taking care of virtual frogs on your iPad.
By Danielle Kurtz
Danielle is the Creative Director at Nod and an over-protective mother of two. She’s also completely obsessed with Pinterest, Twitter and her Kindle, but not necessarily in that order. Danielle loves to craft, sew and crochet, but all her supplies have a layer of dust on them about 6-years-thick, wonder if it's just a coincidence that her oldest kiddo is 6 years old?