Category Archives: Holidays

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8 Ways Camping Helps Prepare your Kids for Adulthood

– by William Jonson

Most of us are back from summer holidays. In order to not feel to sad when getting back to the usual routine, I can warmly recommend to plan your next vacation, or shortcation. Why not camping with your kids? For those of you who haven’t done so yet, here are some great reasons why camping with kids is a great alternative to the all-inclusive kind of vacations. – Thank you, William, for writing this post for my blog! You may all want to check out his fantastic site Pandaneo where he gives us more tips on camping!

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The transition from youth to adulthood is hard and as parents we would like to see it go as smoothly as possible. There are things we do with our kids when they are growing up that help to teach them responsibility, like assigning them chores or helping them to budget their allowance. Camping is also great for preparing kids for adulthood though you (and they) may not even notice. Here are 8 ways that camping helps to prepare your kids for adulthood:

#1: Camping Teaches Tangible Skills

When you go camping, there are many new skills to be learned. You may start with simple car camping and move on to backpacking where things get more complicated. These are all great opportunities for your kids to develop new skills. While some of the skills won’t necessarily be useful outside of camping, your children will have developed the capacity to learn.

#2: Camping Helps Kids Develop Confidence

As your kids are learning and mastering all of the different skills that are necessary when camping, their confidence will grow. Having confidence is very important when transitioning to adulthood, as growing up can feel scary. From the skills and abilities they gained camping, your child will have confidence to take things on in adulthood.

#3: Camping Teaches Responsibility

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While your kids may have minimal responsibility during early camping trips, as they get older their responsibility can increase. They will have their role and they will be expected to fulfill it. And of course all roles are not necessarily fun. My son always wants to be build the campfire but he also has to be responsible for washing the dishes after our meal. We still get some moaning here and there, but for the most part he takes on the task, knowing it is his responsibility. This has been one of the most valuable lessons from camping.

#4: Camping Teaches Kids to be ready and Prepared for Anything

The outdoors is not a controlled environment like your indoor home.  When at home, you will not necessarily be impacted by poor weather, as you can remain inside. When camping, you might encounter wildlife, or be overwhelmed by bugs. Each experience will help your child learn that anything can happen and they can do what they can to prepare. It is my children who remind me before each camping trip to make sure we have the bug spray. And they like to be in charge of their rain gear “just in case”. Kids also learn that even with the best preparation, there still may be problems and they will learn to work through those.

#5: Camping Teaches Kids to Work Together

When camping, there are certain tasks that have to be done before you can go and have fun. Working together on these tasks gets them done faster. There are also certain tasks, like setting up a tent, that require a second person. For young campers, this is an opportunity to learn to help by completing small tasks. Older camper will be able to take on a greater role and experience how to work as a team with their family to accomplish a common goal.

 

#6: Camping Teaches Kids Flexibility

Things don’t always go as you planned in life and that can be frustrating. Those who learn to be flexible will have an easier time navigating those periods in life where things are not going as planned. Camping provides opportunities to practice this. It may rain right when you planned to start cooking your meal for example. Or you may have to camp in a different place than you had planned.

#7: Camping Teaches Planning Skills

Planning ahead is important in many cases to ensure you have what you need. Kids can learn the importance of planning through camping. Creating a camping checklist with your kids is a great way to start them thinking about it and they can help you check off the items as you pack. This is a great life skill. There is other planning that goes into camping, like planning your menu for meals and planning where you will camp. Kids will have the opportunity to see what happens when you don’t plan ahead (campsites booked, meal incomplete, missing an important item) vs. when you do.

#8: Camping Teaches Problem Solving Skills

It never fails; on a camping trip, no matter how well prepared we are, we always forget something or something goes slightly awry. For us, it seems that we regularly forget the rain fly for our tent. Fortunately, the whole family now knows how to hang a tarp over the tent in order to keep it dry. And of course every campsite is different, meaning that we have to problem solve every time we want to hang a tarp. This gives kids the chance to think through the problem and try different ways to solve it.

Camping is much more than an economical vacation. The experience provides kids with a variety of skills and opportunities that will help kids gain the tools that they will need for adulthood. How do you feel camping prepares kids for adulthood?

Author Bio

William Jonson is an outdoor enthusiast, he loves traveling and willing to share interesting experiences about his trips. You can find tips, guides, lessons from camping on his blog Pandaneo.com

Other posts by William that I really like – well, I like all his posts on his site, but these are a bit related to this one:
9 Reasons for Camping in the Backyard

Camping with Family: Preparing for a Fun Activity

Family Camping Safety Tips

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Hiking through the Cristallina Alps

(by Francesco Limacher)

Like last year, my husband and my son took two days to take a hike in the Alps and my son was so kind to write this post about it.

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My father and I began walking from a town called Ossasco, in Switzerland.

The trail leading to Cristallina was steep and perilous at the beginning, but soon twisted into a relatively even stone path after we had passed the Alpine farm which sold fresh Swiss cheese.

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Capanna Cristallina (click on the picture to open the map)

In the stretching Cristallina valley, we came across a group of fifty French speaking pathfinders, assumably from the French part of Switzerland. And as we enjoyed the grass tundra landscape, we walked with them, sometimes behind the group and sometimes before the group when they stopped for a rest.

We heard a group of marmots whistling a few hundred metres away from the gradually steepening snake of a trail, probably wishing us good luck as we entered the pass. Rocks littered the ground, as if a giant had dropped them across the mountains. So the path was tiring, slacking our pace to let the scouts pass on.

Nevertheless, I had already set my mind to be at the hotel before lunch. Who can blame me when we had only started at eight. So we walked on, our strides getting ever higher. Although my father asked for a rest I refused: we had to be there before lunch! We just had to…

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Finally, after much perspiration, we arrived at the Cristallina mountain hotel. It was surrounded by piles and piles of rocks and partly coated with blankets of snow. We entered the rectangular building and had a peek inside our wooden rooms. We shared our room with six other visitors. Being the first ones there, we”reserved” our spots by dumping stuff on the beds nearest to the window.

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View from the window… (©Francesco Limacher)

The view was spectacular. You could see miles ahead to a group of grey mountains behind a closer small oval lake, encrusted with mounds of rocks of various shapes and sizes. We decided to have lunch outside that day, in the pleasant evening sun.

Later, we supped in the dining area where first Minestrone, then Polenta with Goulash and finally a stracciatella cream dessert was served in generous amounts. With our stomachs full, we went to bed. I remember closing the window before I turned in, to keep off the insects.

But I woke in the middle of the night, sweating under the warm bedsheets. Regretfully, I also woke exactly at the time my father was sleeping. You can’t imagine how loud he slept… I was just about to give up on trying to sleep and reaching for my Kindle when I heard the sweetest sound. Silence. Soon I drifted to sleep.

On the next day, we had breakfast with fresh brown bread, muesli, cheese, ham and, of course, spoonfuls of Nutella. We then headed off the way we had come, much quicker this time as we went downhill. In fact, we made such good time that my father suggested that we go to the ropeway leading directly to Airolo, a two hour hike from the Alpine farm. So we went, and soon regretted our decision, walking up roads steeper than the trails leading to the hotel, whilst we were blinded by the rising sun. But somehow, we managed to trudge on, keeping our eyes on the road ahead. It seemed eternity until we reached the lift, managing to catch the next ride down to Airolo. Once down, we took the train to Biasca and were picked up by my mother and our dog, Paco.

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Footsore and tired, I would still recommend the hike to anyone interested in travelling high into the beautiful Alps of Switzerland.

Hiking in Ticino (Southern Switzerland)

Map of Ticino districts.

Map of Ticino districts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The southernmost canton of Switzerland is Ticino. It has 8 districts and borders the Canton of Uri (to the north), Valais (to the west), Graubünden (to the northeast) and Italy’s regions of Piedmont and Lombardy to the south (and it has a small Italian exclave, Campione d’Italia).

In Ticino, named after the Ticino river, which flows through it from the Nufenen Pass to Lago Maggiore. Italian is the official language (like in southern sections of Graubünden).

Tisino is split geographically in two parts by the Monte Ceneri pass. The Sopraceneri – in the north – is formed by two major Swiss valleys around Lago aggiore: Valle del Ticino and Valle Maggia. The region around the Lago di Lugano is the southern part, also called Sottoceneri.

Its nickname “Sonnenstube der Schweizcomes from the 2,300 sunshine hours the canton receives every year, compared to 1,700 for Zurich. But Ticino is also “prone to fierce storms and has the highest level of lightning discharge in the whole of Europe”.

If you are interested in hiking in Ticino, Ti-Sentieri is a very good site to plan your journey.

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You can choose to start by one of the valleys, choose an intinerary and check the huts (capanne). On the site Capanneti.ch you can have a look at the different huts available.

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Make sure that before your first hike you gather all the information you need, by visiting Ticino-Sentieri , where you can find emergency numbers, the kind of roadsigns you’ll find on your path (segnaletica), the rules of conduct (regole comportamentali), and what to do before you start your hike.

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Our multicultural Christmas

Every country, every culture has it’s own ways to celebrate traditional festivities. Some families who live abroad adopt some of the local traditions and adapt them with those they know from their own childhood or from the other places they’ve lived.

Multicultural families need to agree not only on which festivities they want to celebrate but also on how to celebrate them. It’s a decision that involves extended family and friends too. This time of the year many internationally living families are getting inreasingly worried because they know that this topic will cause  friction with their loved ones.

I’ve experienced many changes in the way we celebrate Christmas in my family. My parents tried to maintain the German traditions while we were living in Italy. We had a Christmas wreath and an Adventskalender where we would open a “little door” every morning, starting from December 1rst until Christmas Eve, the 24th December, finding either little chocolates or some nice pictures (that would be illuminated when hold against a window or put in front of a candle or lamp), with the same effect of lighted windows you can find in Switzerland and Germany where houses are sometimes decorated like Advent calendars:

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Over the years we adopted more and more elements of the Italian way of celebrating Christmas: panettone and torrone became as standard as Lebkuchen and Weihnachtsplätzchen and we would also prefer having fish instead of meat for Christmas dinner. We would have a presepe set up in our living room, but also an Adventskranz (Christmas wreath). – In the last 20 years our family traditions became more and more multicultural, mixing mainly Italian, German and Swiss and, for my family here in the Netherlands, also Dutch habits. These don’t only imply food and decorations, but also celebrations throughout this Christmas season.

A month full of celebrations…

In many European countries Christmas is not the only festivity this time of the year. On December the 5th or 6th we celebrate Sankt Nikolaus in Germany, Switzerland etc., and on January the 6th we celebrate la Befana in Italy and Dreikönige in Switzerland, Germany, France etc. On the 6th December children receive tangerines, nuts and small presents for Sankt Nikolaus and usually a little Sankt Nikolaus Lebkuchen (gingerbread) in Germany and Switzerland, whereas in the Netherlands this is the most importan celebration (see below). On the 6th January kids get candy if they were “good”, and “coal” if they were “bad”.

My husband grew up in Switzerland, and he recalls that Christmas season started (more or less) when they had a Grittibänz at Saint Martin (November 11th). Then Saint Nicholas followed, Christmas cookies were baked and the first Christmas Markets were set up.

Deutsch: Hefeteigmann (Grittibänz), ungebacken...

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What to eat at Christmas…

Christmas is a time to celebrate thankfulness and togetherness and traditionally this is made by sharing meals. In Italy, Christmas is the most important celebration. Families would have a festive dinner on the vigilia di Natale (also called cenone di Natale) on Christmas Eve, December the 24th, where traditionally fish is served (after antipasti and primi). The birth of Jesus is celebrated on the 25th December by cooking festive meals that are followed by panettone (wich is similar to the German Weihnachtsstollen!), pandoro and torrone.

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In Germany, the traditional Christmas meal in my extended family was the Weihnachtsgans (goose; some prefer duck). My grandma served it with red cabbage and potatoe dumplings (find more recipes – in German! – here) after a soup, and Christmas cookies and Christstollen afterwards. – In our family in Italy, we used to have trout for lunch (after antipasti and primi) on the 25th, and some panettone, pandoro, torrone, Weihnachstplätzchen and Lebkuchen… Not all together, of course, but nicely devided over the Christmas holidays… Our Swiss family likes to celebrate with a raclette made with cheese, but meat is also a great alternative and this is very similar to the Dutch gourmetten.

When to open the presents…

In Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany, the presents are handed out on Christmas eve (24th December). The family gathers around or in front of the Christmas tree and sing songs. Children play the piano, the flute or other instruments, and only after having sung Christmas carols all together, everyone opens their presents. – In Italy, like in the US, it is custom to receive the presents on the 25th. – In many multicultural families it is very difficult to agree on the way to celebrate Christmas, on how and when to hand presents. Is Father Christmas bringing the presents or are they offered by family members? My husband and I agreed that as long as our children believe in Father Christmas (Weihnachtsmann), he would be the one bringing the presents – like Sinterklaas a few weeks earlier. In order to have a smooth transition to the “reality” and less magical Christmas, once they’ll know the truth about Father Christmas, we let extended family offer personal presents, so that our children can thank them for their gifts. This combination of traditions is an important aspect of these celebrations which really needs to be agreed with the whole extended family in order to avoid misunderstandings and frictions.

What we celebrate now

Since we live in the Netherlands, our festive time of the year starts when Sinterklaas arrives to the Netherlands in his stoomboot end of November, and ends the 6th of January with the Heilige Dreikönige and the Befana. – Our children follow the whole story about Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten and zetten de schoenen almost every evening. When Sinterklaas returns to Spain on the 6th December, we start decorating our home for Christmas with symbols.

It is common practice to celebrate the Advent (from Lat. adventus “coming”) by lighting one candle every Sunday before Christmas, to symbolize the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.

The readings for the first Sunday in Advent relate to the old testament patriarchs who were Christ’s ancestors, so some call the first advent candle that of hope. The readings for the second Sunday concern Christ’s birth in a manger and other prophecies, so the candle may be called of Bethlehem, the way or of the prophets. The third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday after the first word of the introit (Philippians 4:4), is celebrated with rose-colored vestments similar to Laetare Sunday at the middle point of Lent. The readings relate to St. John the Baptist, and the rose candle may be called of joy or of the shepherds.(…) The readings for the fourth Sunday relate to the annunciation of Christ’s birth, so the candle may be known as the Angel’s candle. (cfr. Wikipedia)

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Once the advent wreath is in its place, we slowly add a few decorations like candles, the winter scenery our children decided to set up some years ago (and we add some details every year) and a presepe.

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How we are going to celebrate Christmas this year

This year we’ll celebrate Christmas in the Netherlands. The past we’ve mainly been travelling during this time and this year I really wanted to stay put.

This year, my parents will come to visit and we’re all very excited to have them! We have made plans about what we want to do  with them. Christmas, for me, means to spend time together, to focus on one another and enjoy the festive atmosphere. I like the smell of Christmas: the mix of cinnamon, candles, hot chocolate, sometimes Glühwein, Lebkuchen, roasted almonds and marroni. We’ll have a cenone di Natale with antipasti and fish, and on the 25th we’ll do like the locals and opt for gourmetten: similar to the Swiss raclette, fish, meat and vegetables are cooked on small stoves directly at the table and everyone can serve himself. Or we’ll make a fondue… Our children will open their presents on Christmas Eve and we’ll enjoy the erste Weihnachtsfeiertag by having a great festive lunch and going for a long walk maybe at the beach.

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This year my children will get to decorate the Christmas tree with their grandpa. We’re all not getting any younger and I want this Christmas to be a time to build memories. Christmas is the time of the year where we not only are aware of the beginning of an era – a new year! – but also of the ending of one… For me Christmas is a mix of feelings: some sadness about the year that passed, friends who left, but also the excitement about the new. In German there is a nice word for it: Besinnlichkeit. In some countries people have just celebrated Thanksgiving and this spirit of being grateful and thankful for me is the spirit of Christmas that I want my children to associate with this time of the year. I think this is the heritage I want them to have. No matter how and where they’ll celebrate their future Christmases: I would love them to focus on this Christmas feeling.

Candle and decoration on a German Christmas tree

Candle and decoration on a German Christmas tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know it’s still a few more days until Christmas, but I’d like to wish you all a besinnliche Weihnachtszeit (“reflective Holiday Season”), un buon Natale, un joyeux Noël, en gueti Wienachtsziit, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Boas Festas and een vrolijk Kerstfeest!

This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs ‘Christmas In Different Lands’ series. Each day of December up until the 25th a different blogger around the world shares a part of their family Christmas.

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