Fun Parenting Idea for the Beach: How to Make a “Buried Treasure” for Your Child to Discover

Last month our family traveled to Destin, Florida for our summer vacation. The week before we left, I put together a “buried treasure” kit for my son to find.

I started out by driving over to Party City on my lunch break, where for $4, I was able to find a metal lunchbox shaped like a treasure chest. A few aisles down, I picked up a pack of plastic casino chips for $6 that look like gold coins.

Next, headed over to PetCo and for another $6, I found an actual buffalo antler.

Knowing that my 6 and a half year-old son was already preoccupied by the idea of finding a dinosaur bone or a saber tooth tiger’s tooth, I then headed over to PetCo and for another $6, I found an actual buffalo antler.

Lastly, I found a paper bag in the recycle bin at work, and tore part of it into the shape of a sheet of paper.

Now that I had all the supplies, I finalized the items.

I got a hold of some matte black spray paint to cover up the Disney cartoon theme of the metal lunch box. Then I threw it down several times on the concrete, to give it a more rustic look.

Afterwards, I wrote a letter, as a pirate from 1700’s, explaining that my treasure was buried nearby. Using a lighter from a friend, I then singed the edges of the letter, then splashed it in water to help make it look a couple hundred years old.

Fast forward a few days and several hundred miles later: I threw the items in my old Gap backpack from college. As my son played in the sand just about 15 feet away, with his back turned to me, I dug 2 separate holes in the sand, about 6 feet apart; one for the treasure chest filled with gold coins and the pirate’s letter on top of them, and the other one for the “saber tooth”.

As you can imagine, it was quite an adventure!

And that’s how it’s done.

Now, if you found this blog post to be interesting and relevant, I hereby invite you to read another blog post I did, which shows the pictures of the actual event taking place.

Click here to check it out.

 

Dear Jack: The Pirate’s Treasure and Saber Tooth You Found at Miramar Beach! (“Ride the Lightning” 2017 Toyota Prius Road Trip)

6 and a half years.

Dear Jack,

During the weeks leading up to our recent road trip to Destin, you had been telling me, “Daddy, I think we’re going to find treasure at the beach. Maybe even some bones. Maybe we can find a saber-toothed tiger skull because they’re the hardest to find in the whole world!”

I kept assuring you that if you looked in the right places, we just might find a buried something.

So during our 2nd morning at the beach last week, while your sister was out with Mommy and Grandma and Aunt Rebecca as they took the 2017 Toyota Prius Three to the outlet stores, you and I went out searching on the shore.

Just about 5 minutes into you playing in the sand as the water kept washing up and flooding your feet, I called you over to me, as I was just about 15 feet behind you.

“Jack, come over here. I think this would be a good spot to dig! The sand looks sort of different where this spot is.”

You rushed over.

After you dug down about 8 inches deep, there it was… a scratched up treasure chest!

With great excitement, you pulled the black metal box out of the sand. Fortunately, there was no lock, so you were able to open it right away.

Amazingly, there was a letter right there on top. We read it together:                                                                                          

July 1, 1733

To the Person Who Finds My Treasure,

If you are reading this, it is too late for me. This means my ship sank on the sea. I was keeping my gold safe in the sand, but now it is all yours. And one more thing, watch out for the dinosaurs and saber-toothed tigers…

Henry the Pirate

But you were more impressed by the gold coins inside the treasure chest. You counted them all: “Daddy, there’s 73 gold coins!”


This immediately inspired you to continue searching, as now you were becoming preoccupied with finding some bones in the sand. Just a few minutes later, a few feet away from where the treasure chest was buried, I started digging.

“Here, why don’t you take a turn now?” I suggested to you..

It couldn’t have been a minute later that you shouted, “Daddy, I found something!”

Without me having to explain anything, you figured it out:

“It’s a saber-toothed tiger’s tooth!”

And that tooth ended up being worth more to you than all that gold.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

5 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Dear Jack,

A few days into our family’s vacation last week to San Diego to see Uncle Jake get married, we caught up with more of Mommy’s family at a bonfire at the beach. There were some of the family members there who we haven’t seen in years.

One in particular was your cousin Zach. The last time I saw him was when Mommy and I got married back in 2008, which was 2 years before you were born.

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

He was a teenager the last time I saw him; now he’s in his mid-twenties.

Zach took a special interest in you. You had an agenda to “make a lake” by repeatedly filling up a liter-sized water bottle and taking it near the bonfire where you had dug a hole.

For about an hour and a half, Zach excitedly (and patiently) walked back and forth with you from the beach to the “lake” you were making, knowing full well that the water would never actually fill up; but instead, simply sink into the sand.

However, you were happy because “it made the sand thick enough to make a castle.”

This bonfire family reunion also was a special event for you because got to have s’mores. (We brought our own special vegan marshmallows.)

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Your baby sister Holly slept through a good amount of it all. I don’t remember leaving until about 10:30 that night. No one was in a hurry to leave.

It’s a rare thing to be able to hang out on the beach, huddled around a bonfire.

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

But finally we made our way back to our hotel. Fortunately, because the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander we drove had 7 seats, we were able to take a few family members back to their hotel as well.

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

I have many more stories to tell you about our trip. Stay tuned for more adventures!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Dear Jack: The Worst Gift We Gave You for Your 5th Birthday

5 years.

Dear Jack: The Worst Gift We Gave You for Your 5th Birthday

Dear Jack,

Mommy and I bought your birthday and Christmas gifts months ahead of time. It’s funny because I had actually completely forgotten what your birthday gifts were, since they’ve been wrapped and in storage for so long.

So when you opened them a month ago on your 5th birthday, they were just as much as a surprise to me as they were to you.

While you truly loved your gifts, there was one dud; though fortunately, you didn’t really seem to notice. You were very excited to open it, as it was your first one we let you open:

A couple of months ago, Mommy bought a “3D Pirate Ship” kite from Zoolilly; knowing that we would be celebrating your birthday on the beaches of Destin, Florida. We had never considered the assembly process, though.

Granted, I’m not good about figuring out how to put things together, but this kite barely come with any instructions; in addition to being quite complicated to begin with.

Dear Jack: The Worst Gift We Gave You for Your 5th Birthday

The instructions were very cryptic and minimal. (Without surprise, the kite was made in China.) Mommy and I spent an hour figuring out how to assemble the thing; and we barely got the job done.

On my own, I would have just given up and immediately thrown it in the garbage. Mommy’s help is what saved the kite from instant destruction.

Once we finally got the thing built, I had preconceived ideas on how it would fly: Amazing, but short-lived.

I was accurate in my prediction.

By the time I got the kite flying high enough for you to hold on to the string, it began self-destructing in the air.

Dear Jack: The Worst Gift We Gave You for Your 5th Birthday

Its life lasted about 2 minutes. You never got to fly it.

Fortunately, you were too distracted by running in the sand and waves to realize that I snuck in the kite into the garbage can.

Yes, it was the worst present you gave you for your birthday, but it fortunately was also the most forgettable; especially in a beach setting.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Worst Gift We Gave You for Your 5th Birthday

Dear Jack: We Who Live on Dry Land are the Minority

5 years.

Dear Jack: You Got to Go on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise in Destin!

Dear Jack,

Last month during your “destination birthday party” Mommy and I had for you for your 5th birthday party in Destin, Florida, you quickly took to the water.

The thing about it was, it wasn’t a warm, sunny day. Instead, it was the beginning of a windy, chilly day.

Yet you didn’t seem to notice at all that the climate conditions were not idea for swimming. As I pointed out in an Instagram out of the event, it must be your genes that enable you to be able to have that much fun.

Must be his traces of Norwegian blood on his Mommy's side keeping him warm. You won't see me in the water this morning...

Must be his traces of Norwegian blood on his Mommy’s side keeping him warm. You won’t see me in the water this morning…

As for me, I’ve never been that interested in descending too far into water that I can’t see the bottom of.

We as a family love being at the beach. But whereas Mommy and I are perfect content barely letting the later graze our toes as it washes up on shore, you would rather be in it.

You’re not concerned with jellyfish or cold water or whatever else is in that ocean. You have the ability to just enjoy playing in it.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Though we as a human race seem to forget this, we who live on dry land are the minority. Only about 1/3 of our planet is land, but about 71% of Earth is actually water.

The ocean is the most unknown part of our planet. Without proper breathing apparatuses and/or means of transportation, we can’t survive very long in the ocean; especially not down deep inside of it.

If we don’t drown, or starve, or die of starvation, or are crushed by the air pressure miles below the water, then we easily serve as prey to sharks.

Sure, if you take a shark out of water and put it in the middle of a busy street, it’s not much of a threat.

But that same analogy reversed shows how physically vulnerable we are out in the ocean.

Ocean animals, whether fish or mammals, are created to not only survive, but to thrive, naked in the ocean.

Dear Jack: You Got to Go on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise in Destin!

Not us humans. Our survival rate out in the ocean is solely based on how not naked we are out there.

We humans live on about 1/3 of the earth’s surface, while all marine life lives on 2/3s of the planet.

I’m sorry, but ocean life is superior to us who live on land.

Even as we overfish and pollute the ocean, it only hurts us in the long run.

But as a 5 year-old, you’re not concerned with such grandiose concepts. All you know is, you love playing at the beach.

Love,

Daddy

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

This year for our son Jack’s 5th birthday, we decided to do a “destination birthday party” in Destin, Florida; instead of having a party with his friends back home in Tennessee.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

We figured if we were going to spend a few hundred dollars either way, we might as well make a fun family vacation out of it; especially right now, before the new baby arrives in April.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Something that made the trip extra special is that we were able to drive a 2015 Lexus GX 460 there and back! Therefore, our road trip was luxurious, large and laid-back.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Since we currently only have a family of 3, we kept the 3rd row seat folded down and used it for cargo space instead. Therefore, we packed our largest suitcases for the trip.

Usually on a road trip like this, we all try to pack light- but with all that room in the Lexus GX, we were able to pack liberally:

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

So in addition to the 2 giant suitcases, there was also my camera tripod,  2 of giants beach toy buckets, our plant-based food supply (we’re a vegan/vegetarian family), and all of Jack’s birthday gifts from us. And I was able to fit all of this under the cover too; which maintained the wonderful driver’s seat visibility, which I shot a quick video about.

We had so much fun on our trip. I’ve actually highlighted the main events in previous blog posts. (I put them in bold links below so you can click on them to read those separately.)

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Before we even left for our trip, Jack drew and colored a special map so his Mommy and I would know were to drive.

separately

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

As for some highlights of our trip; first, my son got to pet and feed dolphins at the Gulfarium.

See Dear Jack: You Got to Pet and Feed Dolphins at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park!

Dear Jack: You Got to Pet and Feed Dolphins at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park!

Then our family took a dolphin cruise out in the Gulf of Mexico…

See Dear Jack: We Went on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise in Destin!

Dear Jack: You Got to Go on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise in Destin!

Not to mention, we let him spend his $100’s worth of gift cards on whatever he wanted during the trip.

See Dear Jack: What Happens When You Give $100 to a 5 Year-Old Boy for His Birthday?

Dear Jack: What Happens When You Give $100 to a 5 Year-Old Boy for His Birthday?

The whole time, we stayed in a really fun resort condo that was right across the street from the beach. We could see the ocean from the living room!

See Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Miramar Beach Near Destin, Florida.

Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

And we had so much fun playing out on the beach. There was a lot of water underneath the sand and it kept sprouting out the more we would dig trenches for our sand castle.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Having a destination birthday party for my son’s 5th birthday was the right decision for us! It was such a special time for our family.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Miramar Beach Near Destin, Florida

Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Destin, Florida

Last weekend our family stayed at a condo rental called Barefoot by the Sea, which is part of the Amalfi Coast Resort on Miramar Beach. We had such a great time that I felt it was worth sharing with anyone out there who is considering staying in the Destin, Florida area.

We chose to stay there as part of our son’s “destination birthday party” for his 5th birthday. Things were made extra special when I learned we would be able to drive a 2015 Lexus GX 460 there and back, from our home near Nashville, Tennessee. (That’s a perk of being a blogger!)

Because rentals in Amalfi Coast Resorts not directly on the beach, but instead, just across the street from it, prices are more affordable than most Destin resorts we looked into.

r4

However, we still had a great ocean view from the kitchen and living room; as well as the deck, where we could enjoy the fresh beach at any time.

Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Destin, Florida

Additionally, the place contains 2 full bathrooms, as well as a master bedroom and a set of bunk beds in the hall, where our son slept. It was his first time to get to sleep in a bunk bed.

We had plenty of room. We are already trying to figure out when we can go back and stay there again. The place was perfect for our family’s needs.

Though we never took advantage of it, we also had access to the 2 swimming pools on the property.

Instead, we spent much of our time at the private beach, which was just right across the street. We had access to a gazebo which grants access to the beach.

It was very private. I think we were the only ones on that private beach each time we were out there.

Not to mention, it’s location within Destin itself was a good central location to plenty of restaurants, grocery stores, as well as fun family activities, like the Gulfarium and the dolphin cruise; both of which we participated in.

IMG_5129

In closing, please check out the casual video tour I made using my Samsung Galaxy S4:

I totally recommend this place. In fact, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about it.