Besides time and money, limitations for a family may include the ages of the children and later when the children are teens, and more daring, the ages of the parents. In the beginning of our camping experience, we spent endless hours at playgrounds, lazy lakes, farms, and zoos, but then when the twins were 4, our son 6, and the girls 8 and 10, we decided to try the mountains. We started with a short hike, about a half mile roundtrip to a waterfall in the Shenandoah Mountains. Yes, it took hours…and hours…as we stopped at every boulder and tree along the way. Our son gathered rock rubble and acorns to weigh down his cargo pants pockets. We had snack breaks and drink breaks about every fifteen minutes, and I and my husband carried the twins on our backs most of the way, their little feet tucked into our back pockets, our hands clasped around their bottoms as they held onto our shoulders.
Nevertheless, the majestic mountain falls brought a hush over our usually talkative family as the water skipped and bumped down the mountainside. This was how we knew that the children would enjoy the beauty in nature also. Questions flew around and my husband and I did our best to answer all of them. Following the stream away from the falls a bit, we settled the children along the bank of the stream and instructed them to peel off their socks and shoes to look for fish and frogs as we refreshed our tired toes in the icy transparent water.
I told my son to empty his pockets on the bank to admire the “treasure” he had collected. After our investigation of the matter and elimination of the heavier non-descript rubble, we returned his treasure, a few choice pebbles and most of the acorns, to his pockets and discussed once again the possibility of collecting different kinds of leaves on the journey back down the mountainside. It didn’t work; he had another ten pounds of rubble in his pockets by the time we had reached the car. That’s okay; the twins felt heavier on the way back down the mountain, so our progress was slowed to a caterpillar crawl anyway.
Limitations. This approximately four hour hike would be our only family activity for the day, unless you count meals, but that’s another story.