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Family Vacation with Teenagers: Making Our Time Together Count

Our three kids spend each summer at a camp in Northern Minnesota. As the summer was coming to a close, we were really missing them. My husband and I were both feeling that we wanted to capture them for some alone time before they returned to their friends. They are 21, 18 and 15 and so as soon as they arrive back home, it’s a flurry of excitement. They want to see their friends and catch up before heading back to school. We lose them as soon as they walk in the door.

With both boys leaving for college in the fall, there was some misty-eyed reflection on where we could be together as a family that would make all three kids happy to be alone with us. The solution? Head up to meet them and make a family vacation at post camp, staying in a cabin on the lake. There was nothing better than eating our meals together in the lodge, sleeping in a cabin, spending every day water skiing, tubing, sailing and canoeing at the place that meant the most to all of us.

Having grown up on the shores of this very same lake, this camp has sentimental roots. We reconnected with each other. We spent hours catching up and talking about how different life would be with two children away at college.

It was the most wonderful family vacation we have ever had. It made us realize how our time alone together was becoming more and more important.

As our teens get older and have busy lives that legitimately take them away on their own, it seems important to carve out time when we can just be together as a family. I wanted my kids to have each other one last time before my boys left. And truthfully, I did not want to share them either.

At camp, there’s hardly any cell service (thankfully) and you can’t bring your laptop in a canoe. Eating every meal together was a treasured commodity. At home, they are scattered, meeting friends every night. Having my morning coffee on the beach with my kids—that’s something I love.

We have never had that time to just be, without the distractions of life and removed from our outside world. No phone, no family obligations, no television or computer.

And as my youngest turned 15, I was especially eager to have her with me before the giggling, screaming girls pulled up in my driveway with their new licenses. I wanted to relish the smell of bug spray in her hair before we returned to the lingering girly smell of lotions and perfume. Watching my boys go tubing and sailing with her, running outside in the middle of a chilly night to see a spectacular meteor shower and seeing them laugh and play as they did when they were younger was enough to tide us over until the next opportunity to be alone.