- First, plan out time for your family to take some time in nature. The setting doesn’t matter so long as it is in nature – the forest, a beach, a field – somewhere you can ‘study’ nature. The purpose of this time is one in which we seek out reflections of the “Divine Image” in nature.
- Take something for each person to take personal notes, questions, sketches, etc. While it’s fine to talk as you go along, you want to make sure that you don’t lose focus on the activity of investigating.
- Some general themes to observe:
- What does nature need to grow?
- What limits growth?
- What are the different stages of growth?
- What is the general dynamic of life in an ecosystem?
- Did you observe important roles each species plays in the ecosystem?
- Did you observe instances where the energy did not flow (air, water) – what did that look like?
- If or when you observe “invasive species” – what are the qualities that make them invasive in that ecosystem?
- Then, to wrap up you want to take some time to share with one another your observations and questions. What patterns did you see?
The 12-14 year-old Core Values Academy class in Seattle, Washington spent the 2017 academic year exploring their identity and destiny.
In May, the class and their mentors completed an overnight hike to Talapus Lake in Washington. “The purpose of our hike is to reflect and ponder about our God-given destiny as we lay under the stars. Each person has a unique way through which he or she can contribute to God’s work,” said Kenshu Aoki.
The class worked together to prepare for the hike: creating a list of essentials, assigning responsibilities and checking their equipment. They trekked through snow-covered trails, set up camp in the snow banks, built a campfire, and prepared their meals. The clear skies allowed them the opportunity to think about their relationship with God and their role in His work.
Nature is one of the best environments for our spiritual growth. In nature we can discover who we are, challenge our limitations, and reaffirm the purpose and values of our lives.
Why don’t you take a moment in nature to think about your God-given destiny. Share with us what you discover in the comments below.
Jin is the youngest brother of three boys. He doesn’t have any sisters or younger siblings. So the 3 mile hike along Rattlesnake Ridge was a special experience.
The objective of the challenging hike was to practice being a good sibling. The hikers, who were between 8-13 years old, were paired up as “siblings.” Jin was paired to a younger “sister”, a relationship he doesn’t get to try every day in his family. During the hike, the pairs were given tasks that encouraged them to consider the needs of their “sibling”.
For example, each sibling pair was allowed only one backpack. They had to share the responsibility of carrying the backpacks and also figure out how to coordinate water and snack breaks, because everything was in the shared backpack.
The hike started out in a cold spring rain which turned to snow near the top of the ridge. The total elevation gain was 3,481 feet. The shared challenge bonded the teams and made the best of the sibling pairs shine.
Jin made sure his “sister” stayed dry and hydrated. The pairs also found ways to encourage each other. Some pairs started games for everyone to play, making the hike fun. Others made it a point to smile and point out milestones along the way. One sibling pair, who are really siblings, joked at the end of the hike that they didn’t exchange any insults along the way.
The hike was an activity of the Core Values Academy, a weekly gathering hosted by local Family Peace Association chapters to support families in teaching important values and character traits to their children.
Outdoor challenge activities with a learning goal are great ways for families to zoom in on different areas of their relationships and character development. The shared challenge helps naturally build teamwork and relationships. The natural environment provides a classroom that can teach important lessons about God and the principles that govern His creation.
Would you like to try one with your family?
Here are some ideas:
- Take a hike together as a family.
- Go to the park and play a simple game of sports.
- Go fishing together.
- Talk a walk in the woods.
With each activity go through the following steps:
- Before you start the activity ask every member set a goal that focuses on a particular relationship that they would like to develop. (Ex: Connect to God, Talk with mom, Respect dad, Think of my brother)
- Plan 1-3 activities that will help remind the family about their goals. Some examples: During the hike, make one of the rest stops quiet time to observe nature and think about their goal. During the soccer game, make each person do one thing that will help accomplish their goal. At the middle point, verbally recite your goals to each other. At the end of the hike get some ice cream and reflect on the lessons learned. Make sure to write them down!