The holidays and first round of exams are in the rear view mirror. Because the days are shorter and school dynamics help everyone get more into the academic groove, our teens are spending less time playing outside. They begin to relax into a slumber of sorts regarding the outdoors world that they so enjoy in the summer.
For some, the magic of last summer seems so far away, and a disconnect of sorts begins to seep in. You may hear your child say something like, “I’m not sure I want to do that trip this summer.” It’s normal for our kids to voice reluctance about things that they were so sure about just months ago. Part of it is the confidence in themselves to once again rise to the challenge, taking steps into an unknown or unclear arena. Listening to them, helping them process, and validating that they are nervous can help ease that anxiety. Little reminders like helping them get in shape is always a good idea. Make it fun—go for a hike this weekend, even if that is just a stroll around the lake or a long walk with the dog. Break it down and try to figure out where the ominous feeling comes from. My two kids (ages 15 and 17, who have done a total of nine trips) tend to think the bonds they formed the past summer won’t be the same or as good this summer. Remind them about the richness of showing up and finding out the back stories of each person and how fun it can be—kind of like opening a gift that you have no idea what’s inside.
After completing the Alaska trip in 2015, my daughter was certain she didn’t want to continue to Leadership Summit. We talked about it several times through the school year, and even looked up her friends who would be attending. It wasn’t until May that she approached me to ask if she could go on Leadership Summit. At that point, it was of course full, which was a great disappointment to her. And the only reason she got to go was because of a last-minute cancellation. But I think she realized, as it got closer to summer, how much she would miss her Adventure Treks community—especially after five incredible trips.
On the way to school this morning, my son and I noticed a lot under construction near our house that was muddy from all the recent rain. We both remembered how he used to play in the mud and loved it. He asked, “how could that have been so much fun then?” Maybe because it was simpler and you didn’t care who was watching or how you looked, you just played.
That mysterious zone between childhood and adulthood has so many gray moments. Our teens often think: Which am I—a kid or an adult? What would people think? How do I look? These thoughts are all pretty common, but they’re also very constricting and confusing at times. Our kids want to have fun, love the outcome of connected community, and appreciate and cherish the feeling of being able to do more than they thought they could. But while their memories are a bit faded, returning to this experience may feel overwhelming. So if your kids are getting cold feet, remember that it is to be expected. They are doing their job. It is a good thing that they don’t just jump into something without thinking it through. That is a skill we all hope they will utilize throughout their lives.
So maybe go jump in the mud… it’s just dirt, after all! It’s nothing a load of laundry can’t fix!