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Our friends at Adventure Explorations hosted us for an overnight adventure and it was epic! With Adventure Explorations in charge we had none of the the stress and all of the family adventure time we cherish.
We know how important being outside is for kids. We know how much fun outdoor adventures are for families. The benefits of being outdoors include increasing confidence, focus, creativity and contentment. Who doesn’t want that? But it can be a lot of work to plan an outdoor adventure for the whole family by yourself or to introduce your family to a new adventure activity. Adventure Explorations offers families an array of full service, personalized family outdoor adventures.
The gang at Adventure Explorations is dedicated to getting kids out in nature, pushing them past what they thought was possible to discover the depth of their abilities. If that sounds intimidating, trust me, it’s all about fun! What makes Adventure Explorations perfect for families is their customization.
Each adventure is tailored to fit your group’s needs. Our trip started with a call from one of the founders, Cody. He asked about our abilities and preferences before suggesting an itinerary that was best suited for our family: rock climbing and paddling. These aren’t your average adventure tours. The guides, the gear, the locations are all top notch.
The adventures are run out of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania which makes an easy day trip only 2 hours from Washington DC. We were happy to use the trip as an excuse to camp and enjoy the fall foliage, so Cody arranged a local campsite for us. We loved the campsite at Gifford Pinchot State Park so much, we can’t wait to go back for another camp trip.
Our adventure started with some afternoon climbing. We met Cody around 1pm at Chickies Rock, the premier natural rock climbing location in Pennsylvania. After a short walk to the wall, Cody had us set up to climb in no time.
As a mom I loved the way he handled safety. Cody very clearly stated the risks and what we were doing to stay safe. This made it very easy for even my 4 year old to remember to wear her helmet near the wall and listen to his instructions.
Cody explained how ropes were set up, how the harnesses worked and how he belayed. He taught my girls how to tie into the harness with a figure eight knot. He explained how to check themselves and him, to ensure everyone was safe. He also went through the climbing communication used to initiate a safe climb.
My 4 year old climbed first. She was easily able to follow Cody’s instructions when she was unsure where to go next. The holds on the wall at the gym are much more obvious than actual rock so he offered different options to her when he saw her hesitating. Cody’s experience as a former teacher showed through his communication with our kids while they climbed.
Cody offered encouragement and guidance that was never judgmental or condescending. He never questioned the kids when they said they wanted to come down which allowed them to trust their own instincts and gain confidence.
My 6 year old was only about 10 feet up the wall on her first climb when she said she wanted to come down. Her second climb she confidently and happily went higher. With Cody’s support, we all pushed ourselves physically and mentally on Chickies Rock.
After several climbs for everyone, including mom’s climb to the top, Cody set us up to rappel down the wall. We were able to scamper up the back side with the help of some fixed lines Cody set up.
Once at the top of Chickies Rock, we had breathtaking views of the Susquehanna River below and rolling Pennsylvania hills showcasing the gorgeous colors of the fall foliage.
Our 6 year old bravely opted to rappel first. Watching her descend over the ledge and down the 80 foot face was a proud mama moment. We regularly remind our girls that excitement and nervousness are cousins. These feelings are similar and the biggest difference between them lies in our interpretation of them. So our brave girl took her nerves over the edge and gleefully rappelled down.
These moments of facing fears and being rewarded with adventure are formidable. They reinforce the knowledge that fear isn’t always bad. That facing your fears can be liberating and triumphant.
Our epic climbing adventure ended as the sun was setting over the Susquehanna. We returned to our campsite at Gifford Pinchot State Park for a locally sourced dinner prepared by Cody using the mobile kitchen in the back of the custom Adventure Explorations Toyota FJ Cruiser. This custom vehicle allows them to provide dining options in any location.
The meal was savored by the adults while the kids ran around under the stars. Before departing for the night, Cody imparted his most critical adventure knowledge ⏤ how to make the perfect s’more. That is a whole separate post so I won’t even go into it here, but it alone is worth a trip to Pennsylvania.
The next morning we were up before the sun to meet Cody for a paddle down Yellow Breeches Creek, one of the Cumberland Valley’s famous limestone trout streams. We love being on or in water, but this was our first real kayaking experience.
Cody set me and my 6 year old up on a sit on top kayaks. The other two and their dad opted for the canoe. With my camera fully protected in the waterproof camera bag Cody lent me, we were ready for some whitewater action.
Cody went through all of the risks and safety info on land and then showed us each how to maneuver our vessels. Just like with rock climbing, Cody met each of us where we were. He walks the fine line between teaching and entertaining.
At one of the rapids Cody introduced us to surfing. Just like ocean surfing, kayak surfing allows you to carve across a rapid wave. You first need to get your boat on the face and use the power of the wave to carve back and forth across the face of the wave. It is harder than it looks.
Cody explained how to get into that sweet spot and encouraged me to paddle in myself, but after many unsuccessful attempts, he helped tow me in so I could still surf. That experience would not have been as meaningful if I had not tried myself. And now having surfed with his help I feel better equipped to try to paddle in myself.
We took turns in different boats and the girls were able to help paddle and learned about how to control the different boats. All of the challenges, learning and taking risks were accompanied by peaceful drifting, endless snacks, silly games and plenty of wildlife viewing. One of the highlights of our paddle was when our 7 year old spotted a fisher on the bank of the creek. Fishers are small, carnivorous mammals, similar to ferrets or martens.
We watched on the bank before it swam across the creek and scampered up the other side into the undergrowth. We also saw some beautiful birds and some golden rainbow trout. It was equal parts challenging & thrilling as it was peaceful & scenic.
After a gorgeous morning on the creek our girls were sad to say goodbye to our new friend Cody. He has an amazing way with kids and we can’t wait to visit him again for more Adventure Explorations.
Adventure Explorations brings it all to the adventure. It is like a just add water situation and you are the water. They have you covered for fun, safety, adventure and even snacks! You can get more information about their adventures on the Adventure Explorations website, but we recommend taking a brief look online and then scheduling a call.
The outdoor activities made us feel very comfortable. Cody wore his mask at all times that social distancing was not possible. We wore our masks when not climbing or paddling. We felt very safe at the campsite as well. Cody booked a group site giving us a ton of space and making it easy for us to social distance. Please continue to follow all local Covid guidelines.