What is your definition of an outdoor activity that is considered “adventurous?”
Somehow early on in my interview with Mark and Brooke Stephens, I managed to stump Mark with a question I thought he’d have an answer for, ready to fire. He runs AdventureParents.com, after all, a “source for celebrating the amusing, yet frequently trying, lifestyle of being a parent… who’s doing what they can to raise some outdoors-loving kids.” It’s likely not the case that he had never defined what he considered to be adventurous. It’s just that we don’t often take the time or have the opportunity to articulate something that our lifestyles simply embody.
His knee-jerk answer? “Just getting out the door” can be adventurous, he said with a chuckle. But after a bit more pensiveness, Mark and Brooke offered up something more concrete: adventure means getting off the beaten track. With that, we were satisfied to continue, but I could tell the questions was still lingering – for all of us.
I stumbled upon AdventureParents.com one day as I was scouting the internet for subjects for The Adventures in Parenthood Project. Later, as I prepared for my interview with these adventurous parents, I came across something they wrote on the Cool Families page of their website:
“Becoming a parent can (and oh it will) happen to anyone – that goes for any whitewater lover, big wall climber, backpacker, ultra runner, damn good frisbee tosser, and, well, you. One day you’re hang-dogging a 5.10b or admiring those tan lines left by your Chacos on the tops of your feet and the next you’re hearing, “We’re pregnant.” And you think, “My life is over. Goodbye kayaks, so long Chamonix summer adventure, hello minivan.”
Right off the bat, I loved the humour and honesty of this text and knew I’d found a good match in Mark, who works in marketing and advertising for a woodworking company, and Brooke, a high school choir director. In just a few sentences, they captured a thought-process that many outdoor adventurers will find tracking through their minds. But as this Arizona pair has proven in their own choices as parents, and in the parents they’ve featured on their website, life isn’t over when you have a kid and it’s up to you whether or not you buy that minivan.
I “met” Mark and Brooke for the first time on Skype just shortly after they put their almost 5-year-old daughter, Chloe, down for the night. Despite the tricky question that managed to tongue-tie all of us, the conversation flowed freely from there. These adventurous parents (expecting another wee one in just a few months) have found that, at least until Chloe can walk a bit further on her own strength, adventure travel is the way to go: “Road trips to Baja where we’ll camp on a remote beach, find a place to rent kayaks and just kick back in the sand. Or heading into the National Parks for short hikes and pretty views and peek into native cultures of our area.” Mark and Brooke love exploring the outdoors with Chloe because it’s just plain fun (and a great teaching opportunity, says Brooke).
We wrapped up the interview after just over an hour, my “what is adventurous” question still lingering in the air. But, a follow-up email from Mark said he was working on a blog post for AdventureParents.com to provide an answer (you can read that here). In the meantime, here’s what he came up with:
“While I told you getting out the door is adventurous, it’s a joke that has some truth to it. Still, I think that, oh, bicycle touring is adventurous. Backpacking is adventurous. I just don’t get to do those things very often, let alone with my family…. It’s about what we envision we can reasonably pull off as a family, and yes these are things that are several notches “down” the scale of badassness.”
Perhaps the reason why Mark had a hard time answering the question was because of the question itself. Activities aren’t necessarily adventurous or non-adventurous. It’s about what we bring to them and how our mindset and attitude elevates something from the status quo to an “adventure.”
To explore this term further, I’ll refrain from leaning on or quoting a dictionary here and leave it up to you. But first I’ll rephrase the question:
What does it mean to be “adventurous?”
Your comments and ideas are welcome below.
Thanks Mark and Brooke!