Going on a “Bear Hunt” when we are vacationing in Colorado always makes the activities list. But each year it is others who seem to spot the bears in exact locations we had just been earlier in the day or the day before.
This year was different.
Just as we were coming off Independence Pass into town, lo and behold, there was a bear! Right before us on the side of the road. We were so excited to kick-off our trip with this unexpected spotting. However, seeing that bear was not enough as the regular nightly strolls my husband and kids took out in the woods looking for more did not cease.
What I didn’t realize and quite frankly missed out on most nights is what these “Bear Hunts” morphed in to. Seeing a bear actually became secondary. Open dialogue became the focus. Honest, heart-to-heart conversations. About anything and everything.
In fact, my husband even made up the following “Bear Hunt Rules”:
Ask any question you want
My kids begged to go on these “Bear Hunts” and didn’t like if our plans were such that it didn’t work out for a particular night. This may come as a surprise considering their ages, but they wanted to talk! They liked the “Bear Hunt Rules.”
And get this – when we asked them on the drive home what some of their favorite trip memories were, the “Bear Hunts” topped the list for all three of them!
Here is what they liked…
Being able to freely express themselves and their feelings
Feeling like they were heard and understood
Learning more about God, Mom & Dad and each other.
Feeling like they bonded and grew closer together
The “Bear Hunts” became reconnecting points and a time of investing in one another. While some conversations were geared more specifically to one child or another, they each benefitted from listening and learning.
My husband also added that the setting was a big contributor to the types of conversations that evolved. Being outdoors in nature, away from the distractions of home, the kids gave him their ears and he was able to have teaching moments he might not otherwise have had.
And because they were walking, surrounded by God’s creation, they were able to focus on what they were seeing while still actively listening. Had this same conversation been attempted while sitting indoors I can almost guarantee the end result would not have been the same. Certainly wouldn’t have left them asking for the next time they could listen to their dad “sermonize”!
Instead they were filled with God’s love for them and a greater understanding through the course of the myriad of conversations touched on what love really is…
Dying to self. Living devoted to the glory of God. For the good of others.
I couldn’t have asked for a better take-away from this trip. A true blessing to which I am thankful for my husband for initiating this purposeful time before heading in to a new school year and all the challenges, situations and busyness that brings.
And a good reminder that children want to be known and they will talk, but it takes deliberate investing on our part. It takes establishing the foundation and continuing to build on it, moment by moment, big and small!
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