The Importance of Adventure

A little girl goes on an adventure
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova, because I’m not that good with a camera.

The other morning was a bit hectic. I’m sure you’ve all had mornings like it, at least if you have little kids. My wife had left early for a meeting at church, and I was running late getting out the door with the four kids. I sent the three oldest out to the garage while I swept the littlest one up to run after them…

Only to find out, with my first deep breath, that she definitely needed a diaper change. Being the good dad I am, I didn’t even think a little bit about letting her sit in it until we got to church. No siree, not even for a second. Okay, maybe for half a second, but the point is that I didn’t actually let her wait until church to get a clean diaper.

I get points.

It’s a good thing I didn’t wait, because when I went to change her, poop was everywhere. A complete wardrobe change for my littlest was required, and she’s at this super fun stage where she thinks changing clothes is a great time to wrestle.

I tell you all of this to explain that this was not a quick diaper detour. I hurried as fast as I could with the mess I had to deal with, but it was still several minutes before I got out to the garage, where I was certain I would find my big kids fighting, complaining, or just plain boooooooored.

Instead, when I finally got out there, I saw my eldest examining the garage door carefully, running her fingers over its cobwebbed (probably ought to get those swept up sometime) surface. Right before I pressed the garage door button, I heard her say, “Hmm… I think I’ve solved the puzzle!”

And then her two younger brothers both cheered as the ancient temple’s secret door rumbled open in front of them.

My kids hadn’t been bored in a hot, dusty, and cluttered garage. No, they had been going on an adventure, exploring an ancient ruin, just like one of the heroes in their favorite stories. (I asked her later what they had been playing- Apparently the boys were both Tarzan, and she had been the princess.)

Kids Need Adventure

More than just a way to not get bored, adventures are an important part of the childhood experience. Through adventures, kids get to be heroes and save the day, make decisions, and take risks. Adventures send thrills through our brains, letting us feel alive and in charge.

They can also help children realize how much risk is right for them, emotionally and physically. Through adventure, kids can test their limits.

Adventures, and the risks they come with, can also help us deal with loss and pain. My oldest boy just broke his wrist from adventuring just a little too much. But, now he he gets to show off the brace the doctor put on him, so he’s getting a blast out of the experience anyway.

Exploration Through Reading

It’s important to experience adventures, and we are hardwired to go and seek them, especially when young. But is putting ourselves, and our breakable wrists, in harm’s way the only option to experience the thrill of discovery?

While we should look for safe ways to let our kids experience and overcome challenges personally, they can get the same kind of thrill from good stories. Books, whether read by a parent or by the young reader themselves, can transport a kid on amazing adventures. Through their pages, our kids can ride on the broom stick of a witch (as long as there is Room on the Broom, of course), fight (or befriend) a dragon, or explore an ancient, lost city.

Books have always been one of my very favorite ways of adventuring, a love my mom fostered in me by reading the Trixie Belden books to me as a little kid.

Trixie Belden, The Mystery of the Velvet Gown
They were more thrilling than they look

It’s a love I am trying to give my own kids, reading them books like Patricia C. Wrede’s The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Or my own Wyoming Bones series.

Books are a favorite avenue to adventure in our family. We also like camping, road trips, and amusement parks, but I’m a homebody at heart. And books let me stay right here at home!

What are some of your favorite ways to go on an adventure with your kids?

Elden Walseck

I am the author the Wyoming Bones series of adventure and treasure hunting books set in Minecraft for middle grade readers.

Leave a Reply