The Misadventures of Kai and Pixel »

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When Germans say adventure, they mean adventure!

Although I spent several years in Germany as a student, I have found that being a parent in Germany has given me some new insight. One thing that I love/am perplexed by is how relaxed Germans are with their children.  For instance, it wasn’t unusual for the older children in Kai’s daycare to walk home by themselves.  I see children Kai’s age taking the Strassenbahn home by themselves all of the time.  We North Americans are so anxious about our children that this is inconceivable in most places. When was the last time that you sent your seven-year old home alone on public transportation?

For the most part, I think that this is a sad reflection of our lives in North America.  I pretty sure that the crime rate in Canada is no higher than in Germany, yet we have come to see the world as a terrifying place for both ourselves and our children.  The children in Germany really get a chance to explore the world independently, much like we did as children.

Couple this desire to give kids freedom with a culture that doesn’t sue each other for every little injury and you have the perfect recipe for out-of-this world playgrounds. German playgrounds are higher, more challenging, often attached to some sort of water play (read muddy mess). They are definitely more adventurous than the playgrounds back home and the apparent danger factor is much higher.  In other words, Kai loves them.

I’m actually going somewhere with this.  On our last weekend in Freiburg, we joined our friends M&C and their three boys for a joint adventure.  We headed over to Waldkirch, a short train ride/drive away from Freiburg.  We climbed up to the local castle, the Kastelburg, and shot some wooden knights along the way.  Part B of the adventure was a trip to the Naturerlebnispark (nature experience park) on the other side of the valley.  This park includes a tree canopy walk, a barefoot path, and an adventure path.  Can you see where I am going with this now?

So, ya, the adventure path.  It consisted of about twenty rope suspension bridges strung up high across the trees.  Some of the bridges are plain old rope bridges, but to keep the adventure up, others have wooden planks which twist and turn, largish gaps to jump over, rope woven so that you have to step very carefully or find yourself with your leg slipping through the bridge and dangling 20 feet over the ground.  Did I mention that there were no age restrictions on this path?  No warnings that it might be scary?  Nope, it was adventure German-style!  Kai and Z ran ahead full steam and having grown up with German playgrounds, felt no fear.  I followed my heart beating quickly and my palms slick with sweat.  M&C held the rear with the two little ones…  Oh my, oh my.

When we emerged at the other end, alive and adrenaline pumping, we forgave the Germans for their craziness.  The fear, in the end, made this fun.  Possibly extremely fun.  I realized that this was the German equivalent of a double-loop roller coaster.  High up in the trees, looking over a cute Black Forest town, scared parents accompany their independent children through the air between the trees.  The perfect last weekend in Freiburg!

Here’s Thrifty Travel Mama’s take on the adventure:

And here’s the map:

View Waldkirch in a larger map

ChamisaJuly 12, 2013 - 8:49 pm

Completely freaky, but worth it in the end. I still can’t believe we did it with all the kids. In the US, we would’ve at least had to sign something waiving our right to sue 🙂 It was indeed the perfect end to your time this year in Germany!

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