"Collect Moments not Things"
One of the best things that Minimalism has taught me, is to choose experiences over things. As a parent I find this to be especially true. No toy has ever gone down half as well as one of our great adventures. My happiest moments with my children, and our families happiest memories aren't the times we bought some more stuff at the shops, but the times we got out and experienced life and all the wonder of the great outdoors. No excessive plastic packaging necessary.
My children possess that wonderful ability to have the "Best Day Ever" at almost any given moment, and they have it often. So when we arranged a trip for them with Virgin Experience Days to Go Ape in the Forest of Dean I felt fairly confident they would be having their 3,729th best day ever.*
*Give or take a few.
I wasn't wrong.
I knew my 9 year old would be in her element, she has a climbing wall in her bedroom and will climb everything and anything. My 7 year old I wasn't so sure about, he is a bright boy and consequently he is a bit of a worrier. I think he was a little bit nervous, but he hid it well, and didn't even hesitate when heading up those daunting steps high up into the trees. They both were unphased by the "easy route" we did first, and the pep talk I had prepared for them at the Zip wire I didn't even need, they were off and away flying through the trees without a second glance. I on the other hand may have closed my eyes for the first go and that nerve wracking drop, but once you start flying the fear falls away and I may have even let out some squeals of delight.
Some ZIp Wire fun. (Those are my feet, proof I did it too!)
Once 9 year old had cracked the "easy route" she was all set to do the longer, more challenging route that doesn't have a handy rope rail to steady you. She was so confident she did it for the first time all by herself. I watched her from below and other than one moment of uncertainty on a particularly wobbly section she flew round and was ready to go straight back up for another go.
You get a whole hour to go around as many times as you like, on either of the routes, which both end with the zip wire. So whilst I accompanied Oldest on the hard route, Middle happily took himself round the easy route again. I watched in bewilderment as without hesitating he went off on his own.
As a parent you have lots of moments feeling proud of your children, but it was a particularly wonderful feeling of pride watching my usually cautious boy take on this challenge all by himself, and absolutely smash it. He said to me later on "Some bigger boys behind me were telling me to hurry up, but I didn't cry I just kept on going, and it was great." Oh my heart.
Whilst Middle was off taking on the world, I was being taunted by Oldest to "Hurry up" and "Stop holding on Mummy" and my particular favourite; "Oh this one is where you'll probably have a breakdown Mummy." Charming! There were definitely some heart pounding moments on that harder route but I managed to keep it together and avoid the breakdown Oldest was waiting for.
Since becoming a parent I have become really quite risk averse, and so many of the daring things I did in my youth I'll likely just avoid now, and deem not worth the risk. So it was really good to experience a little bit of fear again and the ensuing feeling of satisfaction when you face it head on. Plus knowing how safe all of the climbing gear is, from my past life as an Outdoor Pursuits Instructor, there really wasn't any real risk involved. Which coincidentally is my favourite kind of risk ;)
If you are looking to have an amazing adventure with your family this Summer then I couldn't recommend Go Ape and Virgin Experience Days more highly. We all left with huge smiles on our faces and the children have been talking about it endlessly. We made memories which I'm sure will last a lifetime, and that to me is priceless.
You can find out more and choose your own adventure from the many, many choices available by following this link. For even more inspiration to give your children one of their many "Best Days Ever" you can have a look here. And to find out more about Go Ape click here.
This post is sponsored by Virgin Experience Days but the thoughts in this blog post are all my own.
The bulk of these photos were taken with my Nikon D3200, and my 50mm F1.8 lens. I also wore my Go Pro Hero whilst going around, and the wider angle shots were taken with that. The Boomerang video was made using my iPhone.
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