What is the best way to develop a deeper connection with your family or friends? Is it buying a new boat so that you can spend Saturdays out on the water together? Or buying the latest, greatest mountain bikes, so that you can venture off into the woods? As someone who sells sporting goods for a living, I am all for people buying new gear and “upgrading their adventure”. But the reality is it’s not the latest gear that is going to produce lasting memories...
I can remember one particular camping trip that our family went on. It was a busy season for us with our four kids at age 7 thru 15. When we camp, we usually pack everything but the kitchen sink. But this time, we packed everything but the kitchen sink…and our tent poles. They were sitting in the back yard where they had been left after testing out and waterproofing our tent for the beginning of camping season. After I calmed down a bit and stopped kicking myself for forgetting the tent poles, we worked together as a family to come up with a creative solution. Together with my 15 year old son, we used some spare tent pole parts, sticks, and maybe a little chewing gum and put together a tent that we could be proud of.
Not only was it a good bonding moment for our whole family, but it was also a moment where I started to see my oldest son in a new light. He had entered a new phase of life where he was more responsible and able to problem solve like an adult. And of course the whole experience also made for a really great story to tell…especially when you add on the sequel to that story, we may have forgotten our tent poles the very next camping trip.
So as you are planning your next great adventure, don’t just prepare by getting all the gear that you are going to need. Prepare mentally and relationally to enjoy the adventure and connections that you get to experience in the middle of the struggles.