My mom –a mother of 5 and also a grandmother of 5 – is an active, curious, adventurous grandmother, no doubt. She goes by “Bamma” to her grandkids and they all adore her in their own special ways. My mom traveled the world with my dad throughout their 46 years of marriage and then after my dad died 6 years ago, she continues to travel on her own, with friends and family and also with her beloved grandkids.
One of her favorite adventures to take in recent years is an intergenerational trip with each grandchild through Road Scholar – a not-for-profit creator of experiential learning trips all over the world.
This past summer, she went on her 3rd Intergenerational Road Scholar trip with my middle daughter, Lila, who was 8 at the time. (Read about my mom’s first trip with Road Scholar to Washington D.C. with my nephew here. She also took my oldest daughter and her same-aged cousin to Sedona, Arizona and the Grand Canyon through Road Scholar last year.) Last July, my mom and Lila traveled to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and the surrounding area. Here’s a short description of this particular trip from Road Scholar:
Explore Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands National Park and the beautiful black hills. Go horseback riding, splash in a historic warm water spring, visit a mammoth sink hole and learn how to pan for gold like Potato Creek Johnny. Experience Custer State Park’s “wildlife loop” in search of buffalo, pronghorns, begging burrows and big horn sheep. Take a chair lift up to a ridge for a special view of Mount Rushmore and feel the wind in your hair as you zip back down on the Alpine slide.
Pretty amazing right? My mom always begins her planning of these trips by sending the grandchild a Road Scholar catalog containing the different programs available for their age and then sitting with them to determine which one they will attend. My mom had never been to Mount Rushmore and Lila had never been horseback riding, so off to South Dakota they went! Today, I’m sharing an interview with Lila for a unique 8-year-old perspective on the trip:
Me: Lila, tell us a little about yourself.
Lila: I am in the 4th grade. I have two sisters – one older and one younger. I like to draw, travel, write stories (I want to write a book one day), work with clay and I’m learning how to play piano. I love animals of all kinds. When I grow up I want to be a Veterinarian, Astronaut, Artist and Baker. I love all kinds of food too– kale, salmon, sushi and chocolate – there is not too much I don’t like and I like to try new and interesting foods whenever I can.
Me: Tell me 3 favorite things about your Road Scholar Trip with Bamma.
Lila: Oh mom, there aren’t just three, but here’s some:
First, the animals – I saw prairie dogs, buffalo, wild donkey, large horned sheep, mountain goats, pika and more (mom had to look up pika). We thought we would see rattlesnakes in the Badlands, but we didn’t see any. It was probably a good thing but it would have been cool.
Second, panning for gold – I found real gold!
Third, the food! I loved the buffets – I ate a lot of Caesar salad, meat, eggs, yogurt and pasta – and one day I even tried Bison soup.
Here are a few more things I loved doing on the trip:
The alpine slide was amazing – I was nervous at first but it was fun and Bamma did it too. We rode in little cars down a huge mountain – I went once on the slower track and then got brave enough to go again on the fast track. It was awesome.
This was the first time I had been horseback riding and my horse’s name was Callie. Callie was very calm but she wanted to stay with the pack and so if someone got too far ahead she would start galloping, which made me nervous at first but it was fun once I got the hang of it.
We also got to visit a Native American tribe where we watched a dance performance and made traditional pouches. I put beads on my pouch that represent wisdom and courage. One day, we dug for mammoth fossils and another day I got sworn in as a Junior Ranger. I can’t wait to get more Junior Ranger badges in parks around the country.
Of course, seeing Mount Rushmore was pretty cool. We got to see it during the day and again at night when it gets lit up. There were soldiers there for the night celebration and we sang the national anthem – which I need to work on. It was colder than we expected at night, so Bamma and I cuddled up together to stay warm.
Me: What did you like about traveling with Bamma?
Lila: I loved spending time by myself with her. Staying at the lodge was really fun too. I really just liked that we got to do stuff together. Also, I love that she went down the alpine slide unlike a lot of the other grandparents.
Me: What is something cool you learned about Bamma?
Lila: She participates in everything. She’s not scared and she never gives up. She even tried to go a little fast on the alpine slide – she’s very brave!
Me: What is something cool you learned about yourself?
Lila: I can do anything. I thought I would be scared to go horseback riding because I’d never done it before, but I loved it. You should always try new things.
Me: What are some things you brought home to remember the trip?
Lila: I brought home a piece of rock from the Crazy Horse monument that they are still creating by blasting large pieces of rock off the face of the mountain. My rock weighs about 5 lbs. and we were worried it would be too heavy to put in our luggage, but it was ok! I also brought home my gold (little tiny flecks) and some gifts for my sisters and mom and dad from the famous Wall Drug Store. I found an ornament for mom that was made in South Dakota. I also took lots of pictures that mom and I will turn into a photo album. I kept a journal too that Bamma made sure I wrote in every night that is a good reminder of the trip.
It is obvious that these multigenerational trips are molding my kids and their curiosity and sense of adventure in more ways than I could imagine. Just like the beads that Lila chose for her Native American pouch – I think these trips exemplify wisdom and courage. These days, my youngest – currently 6 – is already talking about her trip with my mom – where she will go and how she will get her grandmother all to herself, just like her sisters!
Words do not express how grateful and lucky I feel that my girls are able to have these opportunities to see and learn about our history and our world, but especially that they get to develop a beautiful, intimate relationship with their grandmother with memories that will certainly last a lifetime.