Adventuring with teenagers can seem confounding, but it’s actually quite simple-just go with it. Oh the horror stories people have told us about trying to keep teenagers interested in hanging out with their families! And don’t get me wrong, it takes effort and doesn’t come naturally. This is still a work in progress and I’m not saying we’ve cracked the code, but we have found one thing that has changed everything for us.
Perhaps we feel a bit sheepish that it took awhile to figure this out, but here we are better late than never. You know those leadership commandments you learn about in seminars-the ones where they teach you the things you must possess to be an effective leader. Well, turns out they come in handy while leading your family, too.
Leadership commandment: Be interested and stop trying to be so interesting.
When our oldest, Rowan, received his driver’s permit he became very interested in the type of car he would drive. As parents we wanted to instill responsibility and ownership so we came up with an agreement that Rowan could put in a certain amount of money and we would match it. We didn’t set a limit, but opted to leave it open ended as we encouraged him to research his options.
In the midst of his research Rowan became a little obsessed with the idea of having an all-terrain vehicle that he could take off-roading. This, of course, is a boy’s dream. We didn’t want to crush it. Instead we got really interested in what he was interested in. We looked online with him, we took him to look at used cars that fit his desires and we did the ultimate-bought tickets to the Overland Expo East so we could do it ALL THE WAY.
Brevard, North Carolina
We pulled the boys from school early and hopped in the car and drove up to Brevard, NC on a sopping wet, freezing cold Friday. The expo was set up in an open field location, much like an outdoor trade show. It was similar to what you would find inside a huge convention center, but outside. We had booked a hotel nearby, but many people had purchased a camping permit along one side of the expo. People of all ages were making the best of it as the field filled up with rain and bogged down with mud. TONS and TONS of mud. We packed our rain and hunting boots, but nothing could have prepared us for the deep mud holes that tried to suck us in and keep us down. It was hilarious and fun and cold and wet, and not one of us complained. We meandered through the expo to soak it all in, but it didn’t take long for John and I to figure out why Rowan was so attracted to this idea of “overlanding”
Overlanding = self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal.
Overlanding = the spirit of adventure and self-reliance—the idea of travelling into the wilderness, carrying only the essential gear for whatever you expect to encounter.
We were surrounded by vendors of every kind of outdoor and outfitting company. There were vendors of gear, equipment, vehicles, support groups, meet up groups, planned excursions, etc. Everything from tires to solar panels to tents that hook on top of your vehicle to coffee grounds storage. If it’s something you would need or want in the wilderness, it was at OverlandExpo East. There were hundred of companies in attendance with incredible innovations.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to camp and I love to explore and I love to get off the beaten path, but I was overwhelmed! It was no wonder our soon to be 16 year-old was so in love with these ideas. Our boy wanted to stretch his legs and expand his wings into the world of adventure and unknown. This overlanding lifestyle would certainly cater to that. We had such a great time walking around, talking and dreaming together.
I can honestly say that Rowan felt well-loved that weekend. No, we didn’t buy him an amazing overland vehicle or fund his next wild adventure. We did, however, show him we are interested in the things that interest him. He never begged for gear or whined he wasn’t having any fun. We showed him we love the things he loves and that made it a great weekend and a very worthwhile trip to the NC mountains.