My large family recently moved to California, half a continent away from my grassy South Dakota hometown. where I currently reside. This has some benefits, as now we have the opportunity to plan a special trip when I am able to travel out to visit. This year, we chose to visit our first major national park (unless you count the Badlands in Western South Dakota, which are lovely but small and not very crowded). Our large family, which, on this trip, consisted of, of eleven children, two parents and my brothers guest, who just graduated from (homeschool) high school loaded suitcases under the seats two spend a two night stay in Yosemite National Park. Every age group from nine months old to adults of the early twenties was represented in our caravan. A baby, a toddler, ten older kids, and two parents, and my 16 year old brother’s friend, fourteen people in all.
Part II of Traveling with a Large Family
Our family is thirteen strong and incredibly nerdy. Every path brings new subject matter for discussion, exploration, and research. Since half the family are budding entomologists, a butterfly or dragonfly causes a pause in the hike. The family welcomes these pauses as moments of wonder rather than treating it as an inconvenience or telling the kids to hurry along. Yosemite furnished a variety of spiders, butterflies, and praying mantis along the trail to please this fan club. Later on, four history nerds paused to contemplate the significance of standing next to the Grizzly Giant sequoia tree where Theodore Rosevelt had camped. Fingertips touched the plaque showing the president in the exact spot where we now stood, 115 years later. Though country and culture had transformed in this time period, the face of the natural landscape remained unchanged. Contemplation of this fact sparked a discussion on rock formation and erosion led by the amateur geologists.
Experiencing natural wonders is much different in a large family than alone or in small groups. As we explored the dramatic monoliths of Yosemite looming above meadows of wildflowers, we also enjoyed the companionship and commentary of our tribe. The friendship and camaraderie in my family creates a richness I miss when I travel alone.
The multiplicity of reactions of each family member come together to form a fuller experience than could be had in a small group with a smaller age range. I will look back at my impressions of the majestic mountains alongside the exclamations of my five year old sister. Individual experiences are flat in comparison.
Traveling with a Large Family, True North Homeschool Academy
The young ones also bring appreciation of the smallest things on the trail. Their eyes turned downwards to the things they can reach, and while the bigger ones pause to climb the trees they pick up sticks and rocks. ‘Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints’ is the motto in the National Parks, and It always takes some convincing to make sure the youngest comply. They are open to bartering, and we phrased it this way, “You can’t pick up rocks here, but you can at the cabin outside the park limits”. Nevertheless, they leave their mark on the park, as small drawings in the sand and stacks of leaves and pinecones mark their path.
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 I hope that you have enjoyed reading about our adventures! I love my large family and experiencing life together, despite the challenges! 
Content gSarah Frederes is a homeschool graduate and a Dakota Corps Scholarship recipient, which allowed her to attend and graduate from college debt free with a Summa Cum Laude and a BSN. She is the oldest of eleven children and has a love and passion for music, parrots, writing, gardening and photography. You can find more of her writing and lovely photography on her personal blog All That is Gold.

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