Family Reunion Success

Family members stop for lunch at the top of Mt. Washington.
Summer is a time for family reunions. Our BIG family has tried a lot of family reunion approaches, and this year we got it right.

What worked?

I think it was our loose-tight planning, lead time, and location choice.

We chose a location where there's lots to do, and a location that wasn't too crowded. That made for easy travel, accommodation choices, and activities for everyone from the youngest (age 5) to the oldest, age 80+ grandparents.

Lead Time
We planned the location, dates, and big events about six months ago.

We planned two main activities: a hike up Mt. Washington and a family dinner. The rest of the time was open for individual and small group events. All hikers met at Pinkham Notch at 7a.m. to begin the hike. Most made the trip up and down the mountain while some hiked partway and others hiked to the top and took the tram down. The trails are well maintained and covered with enthusiastic, supportive hikers. Other weekend activities included playing in the Jackson falls, taking the tram to the top of Wildcat Mountain, the Wildcat Mountain Zipline, swimming in the Christmas Tree Farm Inn pool, and walking along Black Mountain Road.

My niece enjoys a moment or peace on her way to the summit
of Mt. Washington. 
The event lasted a weekend. People arrived at various times on Friday and stayed a two-four days.

We met in the beautiful town of Jackson, NH. Jackson has all kinds of accommodations from tent camping to condos to rentals to Inns and resorts all within a five-mile radius. Each family chose an accommodation that met their budget and needs.

We chose the location for our family meal ahead of time and made reservations. The restaurant at The Christmas Farm Inn accommodated us to perfection--the menu had many options and the service was terrific. Everyone enjoyed their meal and we were able to linger while the children had the chance to go outside and play at the nearby playground. Many of our family members stayed at the Inn which has a pool and a large variety of accommodations.

The Budget
Planning a family reunion in or near a National Park means that many of the activities are free of charge which is great for a big, diverse family. Also the range of accommodations met everyone's budget, and the costly events were planned for ahead of time by each family.

We lucked out with perfect weather, but if it rained a lot there's still lots to do in the area. It can be very hot in summer so for those who really don't like the heat, make sure there's air conditioning.

What We Didn't Do
The Mount Washington Valley has so many activities from short and long hikes, river play, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, off-road vehicle riding, animal siting, swimming, museums, restaurants, miniature golf, amusement parks (Storyland), waterparks, and much more. It's the perfect location for a family outing.

Before traveling to any location, it's best to research and prepare to be safe with regard to traffic, outdoor activities, and weather. Climbing Mt. Washington can be treacherous if you try it when the weather is not good or if you're unprepared for the hike. There are lots of rangers on hand to help you prepare and guide your choices safely. Take advantage of that. Also, as with any large group of multiple ages, make sure the activities are safe for all.  In the past some of our best family reunions were not as successful because we didn't plan well for the needs of babies, toddlers, and others who require special planning.

Planning well and an open attitude to the
unexpected leads to a successful trip. 
Bring a relaxed attitude and the expectations that anything can happen to a family reunion. It's a great opportunity for family members to reconnect, tell stories of old, and make new memories. Most of all, enjoy, as moments like these are fleeting in our busy lives.


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