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Jul. 5 2010 - 3:20 pm | 266 views | 3 recommendations | 8 comments

Kids and Extreme World Travel

South america tr

Image via Wikipedia

A mother on a three-year family bike trip from Alaska to Argentina is defending her family from the criticism that she’s endangering her sons’ lives in order to live out her own perverted dreams.

Writing for Salon, Nancy Sathre-Vogel argues that her boys could opt out of the trip at any time, that it’s often the young teens who keep the family going, who want to push to finish the trip and also break a world record.

Unlike the Sunderlands, the California family famous for sending off their minor children to sail in small boats around the world — solo — Sathre-Vogel says theirs is a family trip, all of them in it together. They home school the boys, having packed learning materials which apparently get refreshed from time to time.

They’re down in South America somewhere, headed to the very tip of the continent. They started in the very north of Alaska and have been through all seasons, all kinds of weather and many a personal challenge. And they keep going. She has blogged about their travels at familyonbikes.org.

It’s hard to see how anyone could get incensed about their trip. Some critics say that the parents are foisting their dreams on to the boys. That they’ve kept them from their friends and secure and predictable living arrangements, which amounts to some kind of cruelty. I think they’ve given the boys an incredible adventure, kept them from the crappy years of middle school, taught them how to take care of themselves, work as a team, survive without TV, push themselves physically, and how others who don’t have the luxury — the smarts, the money, the ambition — to take off on a three-year bike trip live.

How could they do this to their kids? How could they not!


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  1. collapse expand

    Ms. Hollar,

    I clicked the link and read the text and looked at the photos. Now I do not know anything more than what is on that link. I don’t know these people or how they live or what goes on in their family.

    You wrote: “I think they’ve given the boys an incredible adventure, kept them from the crappy years of middle school, taught them how to take care of themselves, work as a team, survive without TV, push themselves physically, and how others who don’t have the luxury — the smarts, the money, the ambition — to take off on a three-year bike trip live.”

    The simple fact of the matter is that you do not know any of this to be true, you are just guessing, and not very well I might add. Judging by the pictures of the boys, they are quite young, too young to be in “middle school”, especially Davy. While am not going rush off and judge them, they are not my family, you have jumped off in defense of a family that you know clearly absolutely nothing about.

    Maybe it is an incredible adventure they will treasure their entire lives or maybe it is horrific nightmare of parental egomania run amok (maybe it is both or neither). Maybe it is wrong for people to rush to harsh judgment of a family they do not know but then it is would equally wrong for people to rush to sing the praises of a family they do not know either.

    • collapse expand

      Well, you didnt read the blog then. The boys are 12…that would be middle school.

      You clearly know nothing about…well, nothing about what you are talking about. Perhaps you should not be so quick to rush to judgment of an author without taking the time to read just a little bit further.

      So quick to get your clever comment in first. Everyone is so quick to judge. This family is doing things that are different…home (road) schooling, spending their retirement to take 3 years off work to go on an extended vacation with their family instead of working 50 weeks a year and spending hours in front of the televisions.

      So what. I suspect there is alot of jealousy, a little fear of the “other” here, and bunch of people who need to look a little harder at their own parenting mistakes rather than jumping on these parents.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Creature comforts, formal schooling, and world records aside, what really is the difference between what this family is doing and families of career military men and women who move from place to place and country to country every year or two? Isn’t that lifestyle equally difficult for children in making and retaining friends?

    At least in this scenario, the parents have made the adventure part of the learning experience.

    • collapse expand

      Hello IMHO,

      “Well aside from that Mrs. Kennedy, how was your trip to Dallas”.

      It seems to me that the difference between what this family is doing and what military families do is exactly that, they are not trying to set any arbitrary “world records” and they are receiving formal education. Those are really important issues. I don’t know that this trip is a good thing or not but if it is all about setting some ridiculous record and the price for setting that arbitrary record is a childhood, you know, education and friendships, then there is a pretty good chance that it is bad thing. I read the Salon piece and the woman writing it sure did struck the wrong notes for me anyway. It sounded like some variation on Sarah Palin using her kids as campaign props, and then complaining when people criticize her for it..

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Good reply, inmyhumbleopinion!
      And, being a pacifist, I would rate the family-together PEACEFUL, DISCOVERING THE WORLD nature of this bike trip far above the usual condescending (or even oppressive) to “the natives”, barracks-living, cultural-isolation-from-the-country-in-which-Daddy’s-stationed lifestyle of most military families.
      I would go even further and ask: “Just what are the CRITICS of these ‘crazy, egotistical, dangerous, perverted dreamer, [WHATEVER the criticism] parents’ submitting THEIR children to?”
      Pollution – without getting active in ecology groups?
      School violence?
      The estrangement within a family when one or both parents work and hardly have time for their children?
      Narrow mindset?
      An oh-too-willingness to criticise others for life decisions that really have NOTHING to do with the criticisers?

      Many people take their children on foreign holidays, where the children (and the parents) learn ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the country they’re visiting aside from the temperature of the hotel swimming pool and the location of the nearest McDonald’s.

      I APPLAUD this family (yes, davidlosangeles, even without knowing any more about them than this one fact) for taking their children on a trip that will open their eyes, involve them on a person-to-person basis with the citizens of the countries they cycle through, provide them with excellent, healthy excercise (for mind AND body), and almost certainly be an important step on a lifetime journey of discovery and wonder.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    Whatever the family has chosen to do, I imagine some of the drama over it is pure envy. Many people long to live more interesting or adventurous lives and it’s so much simpler to slag someone who’s trying it than make the necessary sacrifices and changes to do it yourself.

    These critics need to get a life and focus on their own.

  4. collapse expand

    It’s a no-win situation. If they — as is most likely — have a trip in which no one is the worse for wear, she comes off as enlightened and innovative. If something bad happens, she looks like a clueless narcissist. Just like every choice in parenting: there is usually someone there to second-guess it.

    • collapse expand

      Hello Ms. Kelly & Mr. Alfaro,

      If you read the bottom of the link provided, familiyonbikes.org, you will note some text at the bottom.

      “You can help finance our dream by shopping! If you are going to purchase anything from these companies, please click through our website and we will get a small percentage of the sale. Thanks!”

      If you are charged with a crime, you do not have to testify, you have the 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. However, once you decide to testify, you have given up that right and that lets the prosecution ask you any relevant question. Once you have crossed that threshold, the rules change.

      What a family does on their own time and at their own will is, for the most part, their own business. However, Once you set up a webpage, go into a marketing agreements with corporate sponsors, and ask the general public to buy products from those sponsors fiance your plans, the rules change, you have given up the right to say “Mind your own business” (you can ask Tiger Woods about that).

      You cannot have it both ways.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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