When A Family Works Together

As a family and couples therapist, I am always interested in how families solve problems and navigate issues. This family activity came from one of my own experiences when I was a teenager. I attended Hurricane Island Outward Bound. The experience lasted 22 days and was filled with challenges and growth opportunities.

We must strive to make the most out of difficult situations. The physical aspects and dietary changes did pose a bit of a challenge for me, but the emotional challenges were huge. More on that another time maybe. One very real and unfortunate experience had to do with the group of the 12 of us, all about the same age, not being very cohesive. Some wanted to work, some did not. Some wanted to get the full experience, some were just going through the motions, doing as little as possible, because they were sent by a parent, without wanting to go.

One day, the instructors let us drift closer and closer to an island. We went on land every day for a brief time, but this was different because it was an island, all treed in, no sign of human life.

22 Foot Whaling Boat! Not a lot of room for not getting along.

The instructors said, “You have 5 minutes to decide as a group 5 items from on the boat that you would like to take with you. We’ll be back in 24 hours.” I know we chose water and peanut butter but I can’t remember what else. Their goal for us was to work together without any adults. We got through it, but without much success. Nonetheless, we did get through it and some of us learned a thing or two, hence, look what I do now in family therapy.

The Island Drop-Off Experience

Here it is! A chance for you to work together as a family! The activity instructions are outlined in this PDF Download.

This is an ideal activity for any age child who has some understanding or experience of planning, organizing, thinking ahead, practical information such as nights being cooler than days, etc. Even very small children may have a great idea. If smaller children are not quite ready for this, you could have them listen and maybe draw a picture to attach to your list while others are working on the list. Improvise and adapt as needed.

When a family works together, amazing things can happen!

  • Beautiful little people turn into beautiful big people!
  • Shy children can become confident children!
  • Overbearing children learn perspective!
  • Children strengthen their voice and learn how and when to use it!
  • Couples dramatically lighten their load of “issues” in the home!
  • You can accomplish a lot!
  • Communities benefit from more people who can navigate difficult challenges, solve problems and brainstorm incredible plans!

Next thing you know, your children are putting down their devices and scheming about how to build a fort under the table or in the back yard and deciding what they will need. Win! Win! Who doesn’t want that?!