We have a goal to visit all the US National Parks with all our kids. That’s a big goal. But it’s also one we can’t work towards every day. This post is about how we keep ourselves motivated and keep working towards this big goal throughout the day-to-day grind of life.
Keep the camping desire burning
One of the first things I did when we decided to make this a family goal and part of homeschool curriculum was to order a map of the US, with some cork pieces so we could put it on the wall and stick lots and lots of pins in it. Almost every day, we eat dinner and do school in this area, with the map on the wall. It’s useful for many things, but the pins mark every US National Park.
We had to get a little creative to mark the parks that are not in the 50 states (American Samoa, US Virgin Islands).
The map has started a lot of conversations with guests in our home. When we talk to others about the things that we’re doing as a family, it helps keep us committed to this adventure we’ve chosen to embark on.
It’s also helped us to plan some trips. When we planned our trip to see totality of the 2017 solar eclipse, we went straight to this map. We could mark out the path of totality and look for possible destinations within that area. (Though we ended up avoiding the national parks in the area due to the huge crowds expected!) When we want to go someplace, it helps us put together other options along the way and turn it into a road trip instead of a long drive to a single destination. Online mapping tools have never done much for us in that regard, so having the poster map has really helped with this.
We also take time to read about parks we’ve never been to (and those we have). This helps us to understand what’s at a park before we start to plan a trip. What kind of trip will it be – backpacking, or front country? What time of year might help us avoid crowds? What temperatures do we need to prepare for? But they also help us to study up before we get there. The first time we went to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we didn’t know much about the Permian Reef trail. It may have been a little more than Little Man could handle (he was two at the time) but now we look forward to teaching about certain time periods in natural history before we make another trip to that park.
There are piles of books about the National Parks, but one that’s been really helpful to us is this:
That’s some of how we keep ourselves thinking about a big exciting task, even on mundane days. How have you done this? Please tell us in the comments!