Clif Kid believes that there is a whole world out there meant for the exploration of curious minds of kids. The outdoors are not only the best place for fun adventures and to let imaginations run wild, but it is also a place to discover, learn and grow. We partnered with the Cole family during their year of travel, or ‘global ramble’ as they like to call it, to share their experiences and advice as inspiration to embrace the outdoor classroom on your next family adventure – whether it be a road trip, simple family outing or extended international travel. Words and photos by Bryan Cole, former Clif employee and outdoor enthusiast.
Like life, travel is dynamic, which comes with natural ways of learning. Those that choose to see the world know that traveling with kids can give a new perspective on life. Whether it’s a long weekend or a year abroad, learning happens all the time. By letting your family adventures and curiosities lead the way, you allow the world to be your classroom and the countries and cultures be your guides.
Using our travels from a recent trip to Nepal, we want to share more of how and what our seven-year-old Fisher’s experiences have been like. Whether overseas or across town, we hope you can take some of our lessons from the road and make them your own for smoother sailing on your next adventure.
In Nepal, we dove right in to our current educational approach to life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of teachable moments in a day, so we chose to narrow in on some of the experiences that transformed what would have otherwise been everyday tourism into educational travel with a purpose.
The decision to travel is an immediate opportunity to involve your child. For Fisher, the curiosity about the world’s highest mountains and a fascination with mythical creatures quickly helped to narrow our sights on Nepal: the land of the Himalaya and Yeti. And thus the education begins. Whatever your family is into, let that be your guide and begin from there.
With each adventure, Fisher met the world with open eyes and an open mind, and we found the opportunity to weave in several academic topics and the resulting life skills and opportunities for new experiences. Flexibility, compassion, resilience, grit, and openness are but a few of the crucial world school/life lessons that come to mind when we think about true adventure travel. We love the outdoors, so what better way to play and learn than to combine this with our passion in new, fun, and challenging ways?
Finding relevant teachable moments in everyday life adventures is easy, fun, and academic. While world schooling Fisher is currently the right fit for him, it won’t be forever, and where the classroom may be spot on for rigor, socialization, and all kinds of other skills, the outdoor classroom adds an element of enrichment and mystery that will invariably shape the kid that Fisher is and the adult he will become.
Maps and Legends
Buying a map of where you are headed is a great first step to teach an important life skill. Not only could Fisher see the country in its entirety, its place in the world, and navigate our rambles, but it also served as a way for him to reference topographic differences, distances from one village to the next, and our current location. Each geographic element then incites great conversations for continued growth. Maps serve as a way to explore new languages and words, as well as being a great resource for encouraging the development of reading skills.
Math in Motion
Traveling to Nepal, or anywhere for that matter, is no small feat. When you’re a kid, there’s a lot of wondering about how long you’re going to be sitting in the car or on the plane and how many movies or games you might get to watch/play. Given the length of our flight, we took this opportunity to introduce time zones. There is much to learn about the Earth and its rotation along with the sun and moon, night and day. It was also a great chance to weave in some basic math with time and travel and distance. Depending on the age of your kid/s and the trip you are taking, you can easily apply your own details to let the mathematic exploration unfold.
Food, Holidays, and Family
Taking time to embrace a culture completely is something we strive to do as a traveling family. What better way to get the essence of a place and feel the soul than to share food, holidays, and celebrations with the locals? Lucky for us, Nepal was having several of their largest festivals when we visited. By simply making friends, walking the streets, and experiencing the culture firsthand, memorable life lessons unfolded naturally throughout the festival season.
Walking with Purpose
Adding a charitable element on your trip can make for a more memorable and impactful experience. Finding ways to give back and build purpose in your adventures instills gratitude and appreciation in life. Bryan currently sits on the board for Wheels 4 Life, a Hans Rey nonprofit that provides bikes to people in need of transportation around the world. It was only natural to seek out people whose lives would forever be changed by the introduction of something as simple as a bicycle. And depending on your family interests, options and opportunities are endless. Know your passion, know your people, and dig in!