The journey, not just the destination.
On Wednesday this week the weather and tides were just right for a visit to the beach and we were given the chance to really reflect on the importance of embracing the journey, not just the destination.
We are lucky that we can walk directly from site across the fields to the beach. For our new children this was their first visit – we have to wait until we know the children well and can be sure they understand our safety boundaries.
Everyone was excited about getting to the beach – planning what they would do and what we would see there. But first! The children carry their own things and this requires some organisation – have we got our bag, coat, a drink and our packed lunch? Is our bag too heavy? Too full? Have we got enough hands?!
Loaded up we set off through the gate into the field. The terrain is bumpy and walking across really needs determination. What is lovely is seeing our more ‘experienced’ children taking charge – holding the hands of the younger ones, carrying their bags for them, giving them advice. At points some children felt like giving up and asked ‘haven’t you got a car?!!!’ But they kept going…and in the end we arrived at our picnic rest spot – the last few children being cheered on by the rest of the group calling out ‘ YOU CAN DO IT!!!’ And they did! Food always tastes better after a walk – and in the fresh air – and there was a quiet air of contented togetherness at lunchtime.
Then onwards – but the challenges were not over as we had to go through a brambly gap and past prickly teasles to get down the path to the dunes. And then there are so many things to see on the way – a hedge cutter in a nearby field, scaffolding on one of the houses, rabbit holes on the paths, a dandelion flower. A crisp packet in the hedge promoted a conversation about looking after our environment and not dropping rubbish. And once at the beach we had to go over the beach stream. Where is the best place to cross?
By the time we got to our beach base camp we only had an hour left to play there. But if we had rushed we could have missed so much. And if we had driven there our children would not have experienced the sense of achievement or togetherness that going on a ‘journey’ like this creates.
At the end of the day we knew we hadn’t just been to the beach, we had been on an adventure! And it reminded us of the importance of being in the moment with children, to go at their pace and value each part of the journey for the unique experience it gives them, and us.