Boot camp or vacation? - My Family Travels

A vacation is widely thought of as an exotic, breathtaking, relaxing trip that one has waited so long to take part in. That’s what we thought we were getting ourselves into.  However, my family discovered that a canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness would be so different than expected.  Exotic and breathtaking, yes…but relaxing? No way.  This July family vacation when I was 14 years old was anything but relaxing.  I might even go as far and call it a challenge.

With a family of six kids, any car trip is a big deal.  So, it was no surprise that packing up a navy blue suburban in the summer heat would be any different.  Fitting six kids, two parents, tons of luggage and a canoe trailer all together was just a preview of what we were getting ourselves into.  Putting it lightly, we were very closely packed together.

After arriving in Canada and getting to our destination, it was instantaneous freedom.  The water and skies were an endless blue and we were all ready to get away from each other after the long car ride.  We set our canoes in the water and said goodbye to our car.  Map in hand and compass ready, my dad was our leader.  As a family, we were truly “roughing” it for a week in Quetico national park in Ontario, Canada.  There was no electricity, no running water, and it would be rare to see many other outdoorsmen along the way.

We were blessed with great weather and clear skies.  We paddled until our arms felt like they would fall off.  We swam until it got boring.  We ate fish every single day for almost every meal.  We grew thankful of a campfire.  We became experts in the field of tent pitching.  We each had enough mosquito bites to be able to play “connect the dots”.  But more than anything, we grew together as a family.  We took a step back from our busy lives and looked at all the things we take for granted.  We saw how working together makes a job easier.  We learned lifelong skills of teamwork and leadership, and the memories I have from this vacation are ones that I will treasure forever.  The situations may have not been ideal, but the lessons we took away from them were.

As I learned at the age of 14, a vacation isn’t always a getaway destination to an exotic island.  Nor is it always a time of relaxation.  From this day on, I redefined vacation as a time of growth, a getaway from your daily life.  It is a break from the stresses of busy schedules and deadlines.  My parents, by taking me and my five siblings on this Canadian adventure, have instilled in us the importance of family.  We grew closer as a unit because of this trip and the values we took away from the struggles we faced were priceless.


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