These were not to be business trips with my
teenagers tagging along. Instead it was to be a time when I was to
be totally focused on my children and their wishes, wants and
desires. It was not to be about me, it was to be all about them.
Let's take a look at what has happened since those individual
promises. But first, why would I pick the age of 15?
Good question. Well...it's just before they get
their license to drive and, for all intents and purposes, are pretty
much gone from the house -- and it's just before they start working
at Burger King. Also, it's a wonderful age to go to another country,
re-establishing a foundation for getting through the next 3-4 tough
years just before they are gone to college. Hopefully it is a time
for re-bonding and for making sure that we are on the same team.
Some guidelines (see more below) for the trip are
that they get to pick where in the world we go, they also have to
come up with some of the money for the trip (about $300) -- so that
there is some "sweat equity" -- and we both write a daily
trip journal. At the end of the trip I present them with a photo
album containing each day's photos, museum tickets, faxes to and
from home and other memorabilia. Plus we stay at Youth Hostels.
Staying in Youth Hostels is an invitation to learn about the local
flavor while being introduced to many other cultures.
Dr. Freeman's latest book
Shirley took Shari on a Mother and Daughter trip to
Barbados April, 2002. That trip finished this particular commitment
to all four kids.
Since then, I have been working my way back
through the kids, taking them on business trips with me. Example:
Fall of 2002 I spoke at a conference in Stockholm. David (23 at the
time) took off some time from his busy video game career to come
with me. (David has
worked on Spyro the Dragon video game, the Incredible Hulk
-- lead tester -- for Universal Interactive and many other video
game projects ...I apologize for bragging.) David and I flew with
Icelandic Airlines, so we stayed over in Iceland for 5 extra days
with old friends of mine (Samuel and Asta' Ingamarsson), along with
the 3 days in Sweden. I hadn't seen Samuel and his wife for 25
years. We all had a blast!
Another Example: Shari and I went to
Ghana (Accra) and Kenya (Nairobi) in 2008. I spoke at the Association
of International Schools of Africa (AISA) and we spent two
days on a safari on the Masai Mara in Western Kenya.
<< To the left you see a picture of Shari and
I ready to go out at around 6:00am in the Land Rover for another day
of watching the wild game around the Masai Mara. On this day we saw
a rhino, lions eating a gazelle, an ostrich, a leopard and much
more. A memorable day indeed! I wouldn't trade these memories for
"An adventure is only an
inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience
is only an adventure wrongly considered." --G. K.
L to R: Shari, Jacob, Shirley (Mom), Joel (Dad), Jesse and
David [in Barbados, 2005]
I promised Shirley that
she can go anywhere in the world with her husband (me), after all
the kids are in College. It is a way for us to transition from one phase
(house full of noise and activity) to the next (empty nest or full
plate -- whichever it is). Plus
it's part of my way of saying "thanks" for all the hard
work she has done in raising our children. She has done 90% of the
work. No kidding. She and I went to
Barbados . The tradition continues. The grandchildren are next...none
yet...but whenever...whatever... You know what I mean.
I lead trips to
Israel every year and look forward to the many meaningful sites
around that beautiful country. Plus Shirley and I go together.
That's a bonus!
| We are bringing
all of the children to Israel on these trips as we are able.
When you have completed reading this page click on the picture
to the right and check out the next trip itinerary. >>
Check out the collection of pictures and the
overview of each trip below. I encourage every viewer of these pages
to consider doing something like this with your loved ones.
your pick: Anywhere in the world, hemisphere, country, region,
province or state. I just hope that this is an encouragement for you
to make a plan to do something like this.
It will stretch you
financially and other ways, but it is well worth it -- before,
during and after the trip!
NOTE: Near the bottom of this page
-- A few of the many guidelines and benefits...
Joel & Shirley Freeman in En Gedi, Israel
" Twenty years from now you will be more
disappointed by the things you
didn't do than by the
ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe
harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream." -- Mark
Twain. American humorist, writer and lecturer, 1835-1910
"We must teach our children to
dream with their eyes wide open."
On a Beach in Barbados
L to R: Jacob, Jesse, Shari, Mom (Shirley), Dad (Joel) and David
Just a few minutes before this picture was taken
David's horse rolled over in the sand, with
David still on board. He let out a yell and then jumped away
from the horse. Does he look jittery?
Nigeria -- Slave Trade History
This is a trip Joel
Freeman took to Nigeria in December 2001, with plenty of photos.
Freeman's Black History Collection
Freeman Diversity Initiatives for Organizations
The Trip of A Lifetime!
A Few of the Many Guidelines and Benefits
1. Youngster develops an interest in a particular
region of the world by reading books and watching videos. This
interest can begin as early as 6 or 7 years of age.
Benefit: He or she become more literate about the geography
of the world, with this interest sponsored by the personal desire to
pick the most intriguing spot to visit.
2. Teenager earns and saves $300.00 toward the
trip. A specific part of the trip (e.g. rental of a car, stay at a
hotel, etc.) is designated as the part of the trip he or she paid
Benefit: Sweat equity and delayed gratification on the part of the teenager
important character traits. He or she learns the value of dreaming, setting a
specific goal and then seeing the fulfillment of that goal. This is
a valuable lesson to be taken throughout an entire lifetime.
3. Through the Internet,
Youth Hostels and
inexpensive hotels can be located and booked in advance.
Benefit: Staying at a Youth Hostel brings the real world,
with all of its diversity up close and personal. An unspoken lesson
of mutual respect and cross-cultural understanding is taught while
staying in a room with three bunk beds and sharing that room with travelers from other
parts of the world.
4. Both teenager and adult write a day-to-day
Benefit: When traveling on an action-packed trip, it is easy
for one day to blur into the next. The trip of a lifetime is over so
quickly. A journal permits both the travelers and the loved ones
back home to savor each memory.
5. Make double prints of the photos. Present the
teenager with a photo album, reflecting the chronological,
day-by-day events of the trip. This should also contain museum
tickets, transportation stubs, etc.
Benefit: This photo album will be cherished and passed down
to the next generation(s).
6. Around 12 years of age introduce the idea of
giving a "promise ring" to him or her on the trip. (This
concept may sound corny and out-of-date to some readers.) If the
teenager decides to accept the idea of sexual purity, the ring may
be purchased on the trip. Each of our kids thought about it a lot
and decided to accept the ring. It was never forced or presented in
a weird sort of way. -- Plus, it's a lot of fun haggling over price
of the ring in an Arab marketplace.
Benefit -- Talk about nightmares for parents with teenagers.
Sexually transmitted diseases. AIDS. Kids having kids.
In light of all this, sexual temptation is tough stuff. The symbol
of this ring can help when the windows inside the car get foggy.
This ring can be saved and given to his or her future spouse as a
gift of sexual purity -- given at the marriage ceremony. "This
ring is given to you, indicating that I have kept myself sexually
pure just for you on our wedding night." The deliberate
decision over a period of time to receive this ring can be enormous
assistance, while core values are being developed.
O V E R A L L B E N E F I T S
Before the trip -- There is much discussion
and anticipation, reward both the adult and the youngster with
focused communication, enhanced decision-making skills, a deepening
trust and mutual respect. The other younger siblings are looking,
watching, learning and dreaming at the same time. Because they know
that their time is coming also.
During the trip -- The bonding that takes
place is hard to put into words. The reason why I promote the idea
of going to another culture is that both adult and teenager are
taken out of their particular elements of experience/comfort zones. This provides
a wonderful environment for collegiality. Both are at the mercy of
things outside of their arenas of expertise. Language, culture, time
zone, food, sights, schedule, travel changes, etc. Flexibility, a
wacky sense of humor and relationship-building are the keys to a
wonderful experience on this trip. This is healthy,
especially for the adult, who may be used to calling the
the adult will listen more (Two ears, one mouth. Is there a parable
here?). As Augustine said, "Seek to understand before seeking
to be understood."
After the trip -- Both teenager and
adult have been taken out of their individual routines for two
weeks. Life happens. The adult may be a workaholic, finding it hard
to break away from the job for any meaningful amount of time to
focus on the kids. The teenager may be a recluse, listening to CDs,
talking on the phone or playing video games in his or her bedroom
for hours on end. This trip can help to sufficiently shake up their
relationship in many healthy ways. Hopefully this dramatic change of
routine for an extended period of time will open the door for deeper
communication, especially through the next few years till he or she
goes off to college, the military or flipping hamburgers at the
Burger Joint down the road.
Opening the eyes -- We have discovered that
we all watch the news differently. Travel has enhanced our
discussions about different cultures, world religions and politics.
It also has caused the children to dream about and to develop plans
for the other places in the world they want to travel.
Parenting is difficult. It isn't until our sons or
daughters reaches 24 or 25 that we finally begin to receive a
trickle of appreciation and understanding from them. It was Mark Twain who said
something like, "When I came home from college, I was amazed
at how much smarter my father had become..."