What is Adventure?
Inspiring families to live adventurously, promoting independent family adventure







What is adventure? You'd have thought the Family Adventure Project would have a neat answer to a simple question like that. But simplicity is not our forte. And thank goodness, for who are we to tell you what is and isn’t adventure? Adventure is personal and we'd like to keep it that way.  

But if you're looking for an adventure and wondering where to start, then here's a few of our ideas about different ways to adventure. Or tell us what you think in our one minute survey.

Or get a full colour pdf copy of this article in our ebook Adventures Together

Stuart Wickes and Kirstie Pelling are Directors of The Family Adventure Project

Adventure is........

Somewhere new Doing something new A big thrill

Adventure is going somewhere new

“What’s an adventure?” I asked Matthew, age four.
“It’s when you go somewhere you’ve never been before,” he replied.
“Have you ever had an adventure?” I asked.
“Oh yes lots. Quite a lot.”

Great explorers like Columbus, Hillary and Scott went places no-one had ever been before, adventuring in uncharted territories. It’s a pleasure we can all get simply by going places we’ve never been before.  And the more different your destination is to anything you’ve experienced before the more of an adventure it will be. 
If you want to make it easy, go with a guide, someone who can show you the way, speak the language and help you find your way around. Or if you want to feel like a real explorer, then leave behind your guide book, map and compass and see what happens when you enter the unknown, another time, place, country, culture or climate.

Adventure is doing something new

“So what does adventure mean to you?” I asked my guide as we headed out to sea.
“Doing something new,” he said, “experiencing it for the first time.”
He stopped paddling, pointed beneath my kayak and gestured me to look.
Below me a green turtle swam lazily by. And I knew exactly what he meant.

When you choose to do something you’ve never done before, you open yourself to new experiences and the possibility of adventure. It doesn’t have to be a world-first, a dare-devil stunt or even impress your friends; no, new for you is all that counts. Whether it’s trying a new activity, learning a new skill, meeting new people or simply eating something new, when you encounter the unknown you embark upon a personal adventure, learn a little more about yourself and expand your horizons. Now doesn’t that sound more interesting than more of the same old routine?

Adventure is a big thrill

“Are you ready?” asked the jump master checking the foot binds one last time.
The nod denied an obvious nervousness.
”Right, on my count. Three. Two. One.”
There was a pause. Then a terrifying scream as the woman shuffled off the edge, dropped like a stone, splashed in river below and catapulted back up to the bridge.
”I’m alive,” screeched the adrenalin pumped bungy plunging earthwards once more.
”Awesome sport,” said the jump master, “who’s next?”

For some adventure is a big thrill; doing things that raise your pulse, get the adrenalin flowing and make you feel like you’re living on the edge.  We’re talking bungy jumping, canyoning, rafting, jet-boating, skydiving, gliding, hot air ballooning, heli-touring to name a few.  Lots of these activities take place in amazing outdoor settings, adding to the novelty, drama and intensity of the experience.

For the most part getting these thrills and spills requires no previous skill or experience; they’re open to anyone with the inclination, nerve and money.  But while you may not need any skills, you’ll want to make sure your activity operator knows not only how to make you feel like your life is in danger but how to do everything conceivable to ensure you and your loved ones are actually safe.  There’s a whole industry of operators ready to take your money in exchange for the thrill of a lifetime.  Just make sure you find one with a good safety record, unless you have a genuine deathwish.

Adventure is a test of skill

“Do you fancy a little adventure?” teased our river guide.
“What exactly have you got in mind?” I asked.
He motioned towards the canyon ahead. The river dropped away, calm waters gave way to a boiling, swirling, foaming mass of white water.
I felt my stomach tighten, ”Do you think we’re ready for it?”
He smiled. ”Sure, you’re paddling well, you’ve got the skills. Are you up for it?”
I took a deep breath, “OK let’s do it.”

Some things in life test your personal skills, experience and judgment; success or failure depends on you not anyone else.  When you’re working at your edge, pushing personal limits, that’s adventure. Doing stuff way below your level is pure recreation; doing stuff way beyond your level is a route to misadventure, what we’re talking about is taking on things you sense you may just be able to achieve. It’s a fine judgment, full of potential for drama, risk and reward but oh so satisfying when you get it right, when you know you did it.

Many skills based activities offer scope for this kind of adventure; climbing, cycling and canoeing; mountain biking and mountaineering; skiing, sailing and surfing; trekking, riding and adventure racing.  But other things can stretch you too, creative pursuits like photography, painting, writing, film-making or life-changes like new jobs, careers, relationships or house-mates.  Beyond the adventure of personal challenge lies the reward of growth and the satisfaction of personal achievement.

Adventure is a state of mind

"You must have done this hundreds of times?"
The tour leader smiled, “Well, dozens anyway.”
"And it’s still an adventure for you?”
”Oh yes. Always. Different people, different weather, different conditions, different challenges. Never the same. Never the same.”

Everyday is an adventure if you want it to be. Just ask any kid.  You don’t have to be doing something new, different, exciting or challenging to have an adventure.  The potential for interesting experiences is all around all the time; it’s just that sometimes we just don’t notice it.

Adventure is an attitude, an openness to new experience, a state of mind in which we cultivate our curiosity about our everyday world and go exploring.  We go to work but see it as if for the first time, strike up conversations with strangers, experiment with different routes home, go see films we think we won’t like’s, do our shopping  somewhere different, disrupt mindless routines, stop complaining about how boring life is, awaken deadened senses and engage more fully with the ever changing aspects of the world around us and all we usually reject or ignore.  If you want an adventure, you don’t have to travel far; stay at home and change your state of mind.

Adventure is a way of life

"Life is a either a daring adventure or nothing." Helen Keller

Put that way it’s a bit of a no brainer,  I mean who'd opt for a life of nothing?  Well many of us do. It’s not that our lives are full of nothing, more like they get full of things that are not all that interesting; bills, mortgages, work, washing, TV, school. A life of routine is a life devoid of adventure.

Your way of life is a choice, a web of choices you’ve made over time and continue to make everyday. So if you don’t like what you’ve got, start making different choices. Adventure happens when you change the routine, open yourself to the unexpected, the unpredictable, the unknown. So if you want to live a life of adventure, look at the choices you make, every hour of every day, and start changing them. And don’t worry if you don’t know what will happen when you do because that’s the point. If you know what’s going to happen it’s not an adventure, it’s routine.
So if you’re feeling like life is full but empty, remember it’s never to late to opt out of nothing and live more adventurously. The scale of it is up to you.

Going somewhere new, doing something new, thrill seeking, skill seeking, state of mind or way of life. If life really is a daring adventure or nothing at all, then what will yours be?

Tell us what you think. Take our one minute "What is adventure?" survey.

Or get a full colour pdf copy of this article in our ebook Adventures Together

© 2007 All rights reserved Stuart Wickes & Kirstie Pelling





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