A Family Vacation in the Wild Connects Generations

Windows to the Wild on New Hampshire PBS

In a time of increasing connection through the internet and social media, Windows to the Wild host Willem Lange still believes that some of the best family bonding comes from getting off the grid, at least for a little while. He was joined by outdoor educator Scott Ellis and his young family on a recent trip to the newly renovated AMC Medawisla Lodge in Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness.

Scott and his wife Jenny Ellis are both experienced outdoor enthusiasts. They believe that time in the wild helps children build confidence and curiosity. On this trip they brought two-year-old daughter, Magnolia, who is already a veteran of the great outdoors. “It’s the greatest playground for them out there,” says Jenny Ellis.

Lange’s children are now grown, but he took them on many outdoor vacations when they were younger. “In our family we were always so busy; it was a surprising pleasure to be away from it all, and together.”

Lange admits that the logistics of planning such a trip can be daunting. “The key is knowing how to do it safely while still allowing kids to behave like kids.”

Greg Gaskin, the AMC Programs and Facilities Managers at Medawisla, advises starting small. “Don’t go outside your comfort zone the first time, ask a lot of questions.”

Lange concurs, noting that, “Preparing for a vacation like this is important. Know your surroundings and let people know where you’ll be. Know your limits and use good judgment.”

For families unsure of their ability to plan a safe trip, Gaskin recommends hiring a guide. During their trip to Medawisla, Lange and the Ellis family were joined by Gaskin and AMC Wilderness Guide Katie Yakubowski. They cooked, helped to set up camp and were available to provide first aid should the need arise.

Yakubowski enjoys sharing the beauty of Medawisla with her clients, but admits it’s just one of her goals. “One thing I love about guiding is giving people the courage and the resources to continue going outside.” 

That confidence is essential to truly enjoying an outdoor family vacation. Scott Ellis feels that much of the fun his daughter has in the wild is dependent on his attitude. “If I’m happy and confident and feel safe, she does too.”

Windows to the Wild producer Steve Giordani  says the benefits of taking children off the beaten track are many, including “bonding, fresh air, no stress, connecting  with nature and this is difficult for me to say - but it's true - no TV!”

Lange says this time away from screens is the real magic of an outdoor family vacation, “What I liked about camping with my kids was watching them find joy in the simplest things.”

A new episode of Windows to the Wild featuring the adventures of Lange and the Ellis family premieres on Wednesday, November 15 at 7:30 pm on NHPBS. Not only will viewers get advice on preparing their families for outdoor vacations, they’ll also get a tour of the beautiful new Medawisla lodge, be treated to breathtaking lake-side views, and lots of songs around the campfire.


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WINDOWS TO THE WILD WITH WILLEM LANGE is generously supported by the Alice J. Reen Charitable Trust and the Bailey Charitable Foundation

Willem Lange’s wardrobe is generously donated by The Kittery Trading Post


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