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Packet Sea Foam: Family turns trip into ‘Amazing' adventure

Thanks to Elaine Bonney of Loudon, Tenn., for sharing the story of her extended family's holiday trip to Hilton Head Island.

Elaine writes:

Fred and Elaine Bonney decided to host a 2010 vacation for their children and grandchildren. Having enjoyed vacationing on Hilton Head Island themselves for more than 10 years, choosing Hilton Head for the family was a no-brainer. None of the rest of the family had ever been to Hilton Head and the location was perfect for families traveling from Baltimore, Tallahassee, Fla., and Knoxville, Tenn.

The next decision was to choose an activity that would involve all 18 family members, ages 6 to 72. A challenge based on the TV show, "The Amazing Race," soon began to take shape.

The race would be held the last day of the vacation. Three teams of three were formed, with the three family teens as captains and with no siblings on the same team. Dads were designated as drivers, and moms and grandparents were given the role of verifiers who would issue the clues.

Seven sites were selected around the island. Large red posters with Harbour Town Lighthouse logos were posted in plain view at each site. Each team was given an initial clue, then as the groups arrived at the appointed site and performed the appropriate task, they received the next clue. The rotation for arrival at the sites was staggered among the teams.

It was great fun watching the kids observe landmarks, historical markers and other island features in the days leading up to the race. The teams began their bonding the first day as they began plotting strategies to use in the competition.

Initially, the goal was to engage everyone in the fun, have the cousins get to know each other and to show off the island's adventures. In the end, however, the game provided fantastic multi-faceted learning. For example:

  • History: Gleaned from the Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery and Compass Rose Park.
  • Geography and map-reading: They had to locate each site.
  • Mythology: Inspired by King Neptune, god of the sea.
  • Finance and budgeting: Each team had to make purchases using a set amount of money.
  • Reading skills: All clues were written in poetry form, and the written tasks had to be correctly interpreted.
  • Observation: The teams had to find the big red signs at each site.
  • Respect: Each player had to say "please" and "thank you" before receiving the next clue from the verifiers at each site.
  • Kindness: Each team had to buy an ice cream treat for a stranger.
  • Physical fitness: Each team had a volleyball event on the beach.
  • Team-building: Cooperation, compromise, trust and other skills were mandatory.
  • Decision-making: Each team had to decide on a team name and a design for its team T-shirt.
  • Following directions: A MUST for a successful finish.
  • Competetiveness.
  • This event was a huge success and fun and learning was had by all. We highly recommend such activities for other families vacationing at Hilton Head. We would like to thank the following islanders for their participation in making this a successful activity: The Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center, Christmas on the Harbor at Shelter Cove, Frosty's Closet at the Frosty Frog Cafè, The Ice Cream Cone in Coligny Plaza, and Margot Else at "101 Things to Do" magazine.

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