Last year I started a tradition, a way of being intentional regarding adventure with my children. A way to make sure we get out and experience the area, to take in the outdoors together, to explore  new territory, to get away from the neon lights of electronic toys.  I called it our Weekly Adventure.

For us, adventure meant getting out into nature, traipsing through woods, walking in a new park, hiking a fresh trail. 

As a parent, I’ve always believed in adventure with children, and I began realizing the importance of specifically calling outings “adventures.” I began saying to my children, “Let’s go on an adventure.” And we’d take off, sometimes with a destination in mind and sometimes just to see what we could find along the way. We’d find new hiking trails on the Columbia Gorge. Or we’d explore parks near parks just outside city limits. My daughter, who is 20, now talks about going on adventures with her friends. She treasures what we did growing up.

And I think as I see my daughter remembering our adventures and talking about how she valued what we did as a family, it made me realize that much more how adventure is something that we need. Kids need it. Families need it. I need it.

I began making a big deal of the word adventure, saying it is a tradition that we do as a family. And especially when school is out. I feel it is important to call our adventures one of our summer traditions. Naming it as such. I wanted to begin a tradition of doing an adventure a week last summer. So, last summer we did just that. We went to a wildlife refuge in Tualatin and we tried a new hike in the Columbia Gorge. Sometimes, if it was a busier week, I would call going to an all-comer’s track meet our adventure of the week. We’d invite others to join us in our adventure tradition.

Kids need tradition. Tradition grounds them and gives them a place of belonging in a family. It gives them direction and a reason to be home. Tradition makes them remember home and makes them want to come back.  

And I love the tradition of weekly adventure as a mom home with my children during the summer months. It gives me a feeling of purpose, of being intentional as a mom with my children. As I work from home and have varied hours, I like to feel like I am doing something with my children that is outdoors and fresh and relational and away from the home and non-electronic. The conversation and laughter and sweetness that takes place as we are doing something new and in nature is music to my ears. I believe God smiles on adventure.

So, I told my three youngest children who are home this summer that we were beginning our weekly adventure this week, the first full week of summer, after swim lessons today. I got on the internet and typed in hikes with kids and got a bunch of links. I needed something closer in time wise and Powell Butte looked intriguing.

So, for the destination of my first adventure with my kids the summer of 2010 we drove to Powell Butte.

It was very easy to get to. We took Interstate 205 and got off at the Powell Bv. Exit, driving to 162nd then making a right. Up the hill we went to the parking lot of Powell Butte Nature Park. An old barn was converted into a restroom and visitor center that had maps, which my boys love. I saw a wildlife area on the map that intrigued me. We began on a trail and made the wildlife area as our destination. The birds singing along the way were wonderful. It was fun to see the kids hold their maps and navigating our way along trails, searching for the wildlife area, seeing what we could find or see or hear or “puff” along the way.My three boys looked forward to each bench dotting the trails. We brought cheese and crackers and Mountain Dew, snacking along the way when we arrived at benches. We stopped to photograph birds and I’d snap pictures of my children and they’d want to take photographs as well. At the top of the  Butte, we could see two mountains- Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood. It was a great view.

My three children did get a bit warm on the hike, and my 7 year old noticed that “There are not many trees on the trails on this hike and it’s in the open, and that is why it is so warm.”

But it did not matter. It was some place new. It was outdoors. It was being together. It was an adventure. It was the first adventure of the summer of 2010.

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