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Dispatch: Play Hooky With Your Kids

Aaron McHugh

Our Joy Bus was running cold. Before you stop seeing your breath, you’ve got to drive her twenty miles to punch through the Rocky Mountain morning frost. My daughter and I are playing hooky from school by taking an educational field trip of our own design.

After I watched the movie Captain Fantastic, I thought, “Moving to the Redwoods sounds awesome. But I don’t think I know enough Shakespeare or Kierkegaard to fill a homeschool semester. Instead, let’s skip a little school and pepper in some experiences that go beyond the textbooks.”

After I floated the idea past my wife, my daughter agreed we’d skip work and school and create our own educational adventure outing. I keep a MicroAdventures list of places to visit or things to do in our town. It makes impromptu adventure planning easier.

Averi and I skipping school and finding our hooky groove in Garden of the Gods park
Averi and I skipping school and finding our hooky groove in Garden of the Gods park

A few takeaways from our school skipping lessons:

For our hooky playing field trip, we picked The Pioneer Museum, bouldering at Garden of the Gods and drive through coffee treats at Dutch Brothers. We agreed no phones or social media posts. We didn’t want to be distracted by the pings.

It felt like we somehow carved out a special portion of time. The rest of the world was at work and in school and we were driving our Joy Bus.

At the museum, we learned some fun facts about our western town’s history, “Helen Hunt Falls is named after a real person?” Helen Hunt was a writer who lived in the late 1800’s. “You mean Banning Lewis Ranch neighborhood was a real cattle ranch 100 years ago?”

We learned that our favorite pizza place downtown, Ilvicino’s used to be a Kodak camera store in the 1950’s and Chipolte’s building was a three-story department store.

Our Joy Bus at Garden of the Gods -Playing Hooky Day
Our Joy Bus at Garden of the Gods -Playing Hooky Day

Ideas for your school-skipping Captain Fantastic hooky planning adventure

  • Decide if you need to plan ahead “Next Tuesday….” or “Hey wanna skip school tomorrow?”
  • Depending on the age of your son or daughter, they might need to plan a bit.
  • You don’t have to teach anything…just go searching for an adventure, or new experience. Let the experience be the teacher. Go weird. Go big. Go Small. Go artsy. Go hard. Go easy. Go cheap. Go fancy. Just GO.
  • Visit a farm, a museum, a historical setting, hike a trail, scout a waterfall or take a cooking lesson.

The point is to eject on your normal routine together and find a reason to create a memory.

So what’s it gonna be? How’s next Tuesday sound?

Keep going-

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