Talking Point: Getting family motivation to adventure
The final leg of our winter walk across The Lake District takes us from Thirlmere to Keswick, via an ancient stone circle. And as we eat our celebration fish and chips, we reflect on the power of a challenge to generate family motivation and keep us all going, whatever the weather…
Druids at dusk
If the other tourists at the Castlerigg Stone circle above Keswick came looking for Druid spirituality and peaceful contemplation they don’t get it here. In the dusky light, as the mountains close in and Keswick prepares to bed down for the night, our kids come to life. Their six day mission is over and they skittishly play hide and seek around the stones while I wonder what the rules are here. There’s no way I’d let them run around a graveyard but do stone circles follow the same protocol and need the same volume of silence? I don’t remember anyone playing sardines on my last visit to Stonehenge.
There’s only one thing for it…
I whisk them all off for dinner. Keswick has plenty of fancy restaurants and possibly more coffee shops than a city centre, but there’s only one way to finish our hop on hop off bus and walking tour of The Lakes; with fish and chips in front of the Moot Hall in the Town Square.
The chips are well deserved. In the space of a few days we’ve walked the length of a marathon; up and down the fells, through boggy fields, towns and villages, and in the footsteps of poets. We’ve passed meres, becks and gyhlls, slogged through farmyards, pushed through endless kissing gates and doggedly followed the instructions on a soggy leaflet even when we weren’t sure what they meant.
The power of a challenge
And here’s the interesting thing. If we’d told the kids that they’d have to get up and go for a walk on the fells every morning of their school holiday, they’d have snuggled down into their quilts and refused to get out of their pyjamas all week. But because it was all part of a week long challenge, they pulled us out of bed when we’d lost the motivation and pushed into wet boots with unheard of levels of enthusiasm.
It’s all about the story
We’ve always found this. Tell the kids they’re going to have to cycle every day for eight weeks in a hot hilly country, and you’ve lost the game before you’ve even begun. But if you become a temporary family of cycling pilgrims on a mission to get to Santiago, everyone is up for it. When our children were toddlers a canoe journey became a pirate treasure hunt. Later on, a ride across Europe became a music tour with the simple addition of a bag of recorders and some visits to Mozart’s past.
It might be the same tour you always intended to do, but a challenge, a mission or a theme gives it a significance, a point, a goal, a greater meaning. And it also applies to the adults. If you’d told me before Christmas that I’d be spending up to five hours a day on the bus that goes past my front door and then walking through a Cumbrian bog, I’d have pointed you to the nearest kissing gate.
But a hop on hop off bus and walking tour of one of the most beautiful places on earth? That’s a different story.
Do you find that turning routine exercise into a family challenge motivates the kids? (and the adults) Do you ever give your trips a theme? Does it help? Leave a comment below with your tips for getting everyone to buy into an adventure.
Join the Conversation
Talking Point is our series of short Photo Friday posts. Each week we pick a photo and post a talking point and invite you to join the conversation. Do leave a comment with your thoughts.
Our thanks to Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire for their help in bringing you this story.
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