Sunday, August 12, 2012

Let's Go On An Adventure


Over my years as a therapist I have spent many hours talking with teenage boys.  One of the phrases that I have heard over and over again is, “this is boring.”  I have heard parents complain about children who have bins full of toys, yet describe themselves as bored.  How is it possible that in our society of 24/7 entertainment anyone would be bored?
I recently listened to the White Horse Inn podcast that argued boredom in our culture stems from the over abundance of entertainment.  They argued that our desire to have every experience be “THE” experience cheapens the value of all experiences.   Even in churches and youth ministries we are constantly searching for the next big thing.  The next exciting program or activity that will draw in more kids or parents so they can know how exciting Jesus is.  We take high school students to camps and mission trips filled with emotional worship, funny speakers, and really gross games. 
The problem is, this is not real life.  Real life is mundane, it is getting up to go to work or school everyday, it is doing the dishes, laundry, and homework.  Faith is hard, church can be normal, and even Jesus was not exciting all of the time.  In my opinion the problem with the “bored” children is that they have never learned to imagine.  Toys don’t require imagination these days.  Computer graphics create vast worlds in infinite detail, none of it imagined by the players.  It is nearly impossible to find a plain lego set that can be formed into whatever a child imagines.  They are all movie themed and designed to be built into some specific object.  Even infant toys are full of bells, whistles, lights, and buttons.
I was pleased to sit and observe some kids developing their imaginations the other day.  I felt like one of those nature photographers catching the final footage of an endangered species.  I sat very quietly hoping they would not notice me, so as not to disrupt their play.  They played for about an hour with nothing more than a bucket tied to a rope and water.  I am not sure what they were doing but they were all fully engaged and involved.  Somehow they all had a role to play but no one told them what it was.  There was yelling, laughing, jumping, and running; it was great fun.  They were having a true adventure.
A true adventure is not some overhyped, artificially produced experience of which we are spectators.  A true adventure is something we are actively involved in.  It is a path that unfolds before us based on the shared experience of family and friends.
This was not the latest and flashiest toy.  It was a white bucket tied to a rope, but it lead them on a wild adventure full of excitement and joy.  I hope parents will say, “let’s go on an adventure” by giving their families the time and space to imagine.  Let’s cut down on some of the adult organized “exciting” activities, and begin to create our own adventures in the backyard.      

How does your family find true adventure?

What toys helped you to imagine as a child?



2 comments:

  1. I can't stand the phrase, "I'm bored"! I probably don't help it much though. My kids watch a movie every afternoon after lunch, mostly so that I can have a break too.:( After that I find that they don't know what to do. I think it would be better to have them find a quiet spot somewhere in the house of their choice for one hour.

    Anyway, one of the best toys that haven't lost my kids attention are the duplo (I think that's what they are called) lego. They aren't the small ones, but aren't huge either. I ended up finding 2 boxes with random pieces in it from a garage sale. They sit for hours playing, building, role playing, making patterns, etc. and it always turns out differently each time. My 4 kids are ages 2-8 and they all play with them.

    Another thing that I love to see is the kids explore our back woods. It's amazing what they'll do when I let them. Sometimes when I go for a walk it's on MY schedule and I hurry them along. When I actually just let them do stuff it's a lot of fun for them. They have built structures out of stuff back there, throw stones or sticks in the swampy area, pretend to be soldiers, etc.

    Well, I hope there are more ideas that come. I would love to hear them.

    Thanks Mark!

    Hannah

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  2. Hannah,

    Oh man that after lunch period is so difficult. Parents are exhausted, it is getting hot, and kids are just a little too tired. We try to mix up the after lunch routine at our house. sometimes a movie, Many times just what you suggested, everyone sent to a different room to play quietly. We call it quiet time rather than nap time. The decision on which to implement depends a lot on how the morning went and how tired the parents are. Duplo's are great, especially the blank ones. they offers endless possibilities. I love your thoughts to slow things down on walks in your back woods. Sometimes when we hike, we try to notice as many plants and animals as possible. Once our 3 year old found a "dinosaur bone" just walking in our neighborhood. Gotta love their imaginations....

    More ideas:
    sand box
    mud
    forts made in the base of a tree
    searching for rocks to polish
    identifying insects in your yard
    collecting cicada shells (my boys love this one)

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