Every year I go on some sort of vacation with my sister and her family, which includes her, her husband, and three children ages 16, 13 3/4, and 11. Sometimes we go to the beach in South Carolina, and sometimes they come to Boston to visit me. I look forward to spending time with them and relish hanging out with and being active with the kids. I bought them their first bikes and try to give them active wear and gear that will be useful and promote/encourage love of sports and active living.
Okay, yeah, I’m a tiny bit pushy about it, but I do come across with cool sporty merch for them (as a good sporty auntie should).
This year we are embarking on an ambitious trip: we are going to spend a week in Arizona and Nevada, exploring the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Red Rock canyon, touring the Hoover Dam and then: Vegas, baby!
Now I should say that I’m not a serious hiker by any means. I love moving around in the outdoors on foot, bike, kayak, etc. But backpacking rim to rim is not my idea of a good time. That said, my sister and her family are much less sporty and outdoorsy than I am, and not as all-embracing of the wondrous variety of conditions that nature offers us. To wit: my niece just said to me on the phone today, ” please tell me we don’t have to hike when it’s hot.” Hmmm. Arizona in late June. Uh, honey, let me explain something…
In addition, my sister is one of those people who, when walking around within 50 yards of trees and grass , intermittently stops, points, and says, ” do you think that was a snake?” My brother in law, during a recent trip on foot from a beach condo to the pool, told me that he was looking at the wet marsh area at the complex, preparing himself in case an alligator should make his presence known.
This is what I’ve got to work with here.
Enter the delicate art of exercise compromise.
This blog has talked a lot about the virtues of exercise in groups of mixed abilities and mixed goals. Cycling with faster riders can make us both faster and better bike handlers. Practicing with newbies in martial arts and yoga helps us reconnect with the beginner mind and deepen our appreciation of the fundamentals. Tracy and her Niagara women’s half marathon posse just blogged about finding pleasure and joy in running together while completing a variety of course goals.
But what if those persons of mixed abilities and levels of enthusiasm happen to be members of one’s own family? It’s not clear that I can single-handedly motivate a week’s worth of esprit de corps tramping around in the hot Arizona desert with my sister and three grumpy sweating kids.
Short of doing a tour of northern Arizona malls, this trip WILL involve some outside-in-the-hot-sun time. And I want them to have fun– enough fun that they’ll be interested in pursuing their own outdoor adventures in the future. So I’ve made some compromise plans.
We are staying in motels with good pools, and will cool off and frolic in them at the end of each day of hot weather activity.
We are doing a bike tour along the south rim of the Grand Canyon, which should be fun, allow us to cover some ground and see spectacular vistas, but not be too strenuous ( I hope).
We are going to Slide Rock state park in Sedona, where we can all get wet in rock pools and their natural water slide.
Okay, I’m insisting on a few short family hikes, but will try to do them as early as we can pry the teenagers out of bed ( wish us luck).
I’m not going off on my own, as much as I’d like to kayak and hike on the Colorado river in Black canyon. It’s not something that the rest of the family would enjoy, and I’m there for family togetherness fun.
Luckily, once we get to Vegas, we can spend hours hanging out by a pool that looks something like this:
So, readers, what have you done on outdoorsy family trips with reluctant hikers or walkers? Any tips or strategies? What has worked for you? What has failed spectacularly? I’d love to know.