Pack your bags and load up the kids–it’s time for a family vacation! But where to go… Do you really want to do Disneyland again? True, getting your picture taken with Mickey and Minnie never gets old. But surely there is more to vacationing than losing your lunch on the Levitating Looper, and losing your All Access Pass yet again, and the kids crying because they are tired of standing, and paying $5 for a cup of soda, and… you get the idea.
I know, I know; it’s magical. But besides a migraine and an empty wallet, what really remains after the magic is over? There must be other, more meaningful vacation options.
…And there are:
Cultural Enrichment Vacations
At major theme parks, the only thing that lasts a lifetime is the credit card bill. For something more meaningful, try taking a cultural enrichment vacation to someplace like a native American reservation. Over at ChickasawCountry.com, you can start by learning a little about the history of the people who used to be the primary stewards of the land.
Speaking of cultural heritage, there are other great options depending on the ages and interests of your children. There are authentic Civil War recreations that are not for the faint of heart, but are more informative than a stack of history books. You can experience the Oregon Trail in real life, but without the dysentery.
And what could be more fun than a bit of time on a dude ranch. Culture is everywhere. Consider roping some of it for your next vacation.
Some of the most memorable times for kids are those spent with the family on a camping trip. Granted, some of those memories were due to chiggers in the britches, stinging nettles, and the rain-proof tent that wasn’t. But that’s nature for you. There is nowhere you can step that is not a learning opportunity.
It is on such trips that kids get to learn the difference between different types of trees, which bark is edible, the difference between a four-leaf clover and poison ivy. You might want to learn that one before you go. And while you are learning to distinguish between safe water and stagnant water, the family bonds not only with one another, but with the natural world.
One of the most important lessons that does not come naturally is that we live in a world bigger than ourselves, and we share in the humanity of every human, not just those that look and act like us. We also have to be taught to voluntarily share our resources, and to do what we can to aid those less fortunate than ourselves. Not everyone has what we consider basic resources for an enjoyable and fulfilling standard of living. There are many ways to instill that realization into the next generation while still having a good time.
Many churches take youth groups to places like Mexico where they provide the resources and man, err, kid power to build a house for a family in need. But such projects can be done without being attached to any religious organization. There are many organizations and community programs that could use a few extra hands. Community service is not just a punishment for those trying to reduce their jail time. It is a civic responsibility, that comes in all shapes and sizes. Making it a part, or even the point of a family vacation might be the most character-building event of a child’s life.
Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against Mickey and Minnie. They are a lot of fun, and have been for many generations. But fantasy should not be indulged to the exclusion of reality. When taking cultural, nature, or mission oriented vacations, you get to discover the real magic kingdom. And it is all around us.