I’m taking you Into the Wilderness! I think it will be great for us as a functioning family.
Why would I do this, you ask? Well, maybe I’ve just been writing too many grants for Outward Bound lately, but what I want is for you to grasp a few different aspects of the “wilderness ethic.” That’s something that I know about and you really don’t. There is much for teens and young adults to learn here, though.
You will absorb the value of how to habitually give more than your fair share. Deep in the wilderness, we'll need to make everything gets done that no one overexerts themselves. We will compete to help each other and to carry the heaviest pack, the most awkward canoe. We’ll take the extra trip on the portage. We’ll make sure we get up earlier than everyone else to make the coffee and pancakes and grab the nastiest pot to wash. We’ll take the time to clear the trail for the next guy. When we need to, we’ll take the break and rest in the generosity of others’ work. We’re not equally strong but we will get through it together. You’ll learn to feel good both about serving, and being served.
You’ll get the habit to take less than your fair share. We need to make sure everybody gets enough to eat. We’ll wait and let the other tent in our group pick that best tent site. We’ll conserve the water. If we play the grabby game, it’ll actually, and obviously, matter. You’ll learn to be “more than fair” in what you take from the team.
You’ll learn about teamwork. Within our wilderness crew there are no leaders and no followers. We need everyone to make the decisions. We are all stuck with each other deep in this wilderness and we need to bring our respect, our intelligence, our kindness to every task. You’ll learn how to refrain from complaining and second-guessing. We all decided to do this route with the expletive-deleted beaver dam and there is no use whining about it. Nobody gets thrown under the bus. You’ll learn to slog through the mud we chose and somehow still put a smile on the face of others in the group.
You’ll learn that you have to work for beauty. When you are at the top of the mountain gazing at hill after hill of brilliant fall color broken only by deep blue lakes, or encamped on a piney island hearing the loons call in the night – well, you can’t get there without the effort. Even if you could, it would not be as beautiful.
So yes, into the wilderness, kids – unless you can figure out how to get all these benefits in some other way with fewer bugs and more internet access. I know you’re not sure if I’m joking. I’m not sure either. I only know that wilderness values are what I want for you.