It’s hard to believe that 2010 marks the 10th anniversary of moving to Idaho for my wife Pam and I, as well as the 10th anniversary of starting Highway 12 Ventures. Looking at our children though, it’s clear that time has indeed marched on. Our ten year-old son was only a couple of months old when we moved to Boise and his older sister hadn’t reached her second birthday. Seeing how much they’ve grown reminds Pam and I just how fleeting our time with them really is. It’s in this spirit that I’m sharing that I’ll be taking a sabbatical this summer. A couple of days after the school year ends in early June, we’ll be leaving with our kids for Southeast Asia and then on to Africa, returning just a couple of days before the school year starts in late August.
How did we arrive at this decision? About five years ago, a close friend of ours took a three-month trip to Africa that she and her husband had taken with their early-teen children to engage in volunteer work. They had grown concerned that their kids needed some “perspective” about how lucky they were to live in this amazing country with our unparalleled quality of life. Pam and I were so moved by her story that we began plotting what we wound up calling our very own “perspective trip” for our family when the kids reached an age when they could both appreciate it. Now that they’re ten and eleven, we think it’s the perfect time.
Given that most global volunteer groups are geared to older teens, we did quite a bit of research to find an organization that has “age appropriate” volunteer work for kids a little younger. We were delighted to discover a group called GlobeAware. It’s an incredible outfit that focuses on short-term, one week volunteer vacations. These are specially formatted for working people with limited vacation time who want to volunteer abroad. Here’s a video about GlobeAware if you’re interested.
In Southeast Asia, we’ll be traveling to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. While we’re there we’ll be working with children much less fortunate than ours. With about a month left in the summer, we’ll head to Africa where we’ll be doing similar volunteer work and visiting Ghana and Tanzania.
Given the responsibility I have to our investors and companies where I serve on the board of directors, I didn’t come to this decision lightly. However, with the encouragement of my incredible partners along with the knowledge that we’ve got a full team more than capable of covering my responsibilities while I’m gone, Pam and I feel very fortunate that we’re able to do this as our kids are entering their teen years. It’s important to us that our children realize just how fortunate they are and we believe they’ll be at the perfect age to feel the full impact of an experience like this.
Finally, as someone who lives in the technology world, I’ve struggled over my decision on how to share our journey with friends and family. Given that we’re investors in Everlater and I think it’s by far the best way to share one’s travel experiences in real-time, that would be the logical choice. However, because most kids these days (mine included) probably believe that their parent’s fingers are eternally attached to either a keyboard or handheld device, I’ve decided that handwritten journals will be our method of recording our experience while we’re there and I’ll recreate the trip in Everlater upon our return.
While much of our time will be spent on GlobeAware projects, we’ll have some exploration time between these and I’d love to hear from those who have traveled to these countries and learn about their “can’t miss” experiences there.