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  June 11, 2010
The Unforgettable Family Vacation

Well summer has almost arrived.  The school year is almost over.  Preparations are being made for the annual family summer outings and vacations.  We’ve worked hard and now it’s time to take a few days off to enjoy the sunshine and long days.

Some of us will go to exotic places, others will visit relatives, while still others will employ the popular "stay-cation" remaining closer to home and enjoying a little leisure time in one’s own backyard.

Summer vacations are meant to recharge a person’s batteries after several months of long work weeks.  They also provide an opportunity to create lasting family memories.

We have a new game that we play when my family gets together.  The game is called "Do You Remember?".  Basically we try to stump each other with trivia questions about growing up. 

What color was the wallpaper in the kitchen?
What present did Santa bring us the year it snowed?
Can you name all the neighbors on our street?
What was the name of our first dog?

More often that not, questions center around family vacations.  I think this is because those memories are the most...well...memorable...

It was a time that we all were together with really no where to go or to play with other than ourselves.  We ate meals together, we played games together, and we all shared in the same "adventures" together... both good and bad.  This was a time before cell phones so the office wasn’t calling dad, we weren’t texting our friends back home, and we weren’t playing video games (in fact we didn’t have a TV in most places that we went).

In today’s world it takes a bit more doing to "leave it all back home". 

Mike Maddock is good friend of mine.  Mike is truly one of the most creative and intelligent people that I personally know.  He is the managing partner of Maddock Douglas, an agency that specializes in bringing innovative products and services from someone’s mind to the marketplace (trust me...not an easy thing to do).   

A few months back, I saw Mike at an annual conference that we both attend each year on the campus of MIT near Boston.  Somehow we got on the subject of family and both lamented about how fast our children were becoming young adults.  He went on to describe the details of his family vacation from the previous summer.

The Maddock family had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica last summer.  The Maddocks have two young boys ages 5 and 9.  Before they left for vacation, Mike had a great idea on how to make their upcoming family vacation a memorable one (not that going to Jamaica isn’t memorable in itself).

Mike decided that since the family was headed to tropical Caribbean beaches, he would devise a treasure hunt for his boys that would last all week.  The treasure was supposedly buried by pirates who sailed the Caribbean Sea.

Several weeks prior to their departure, Mike engaged a local artist to create several maps and letters on treated parchment paper.  The maps and letters were designed to be "discovered" each day by the family bringing them ever closer to the pirate’s buried treasure.

Shopping online, he was able to purchase several old wooden boxes and one small treasure chest.  A quick trip to a few local Chicago thrift stores allowed him to fill the treasure chest with costume "jewels, gemstones, and pearls".

Mike then sent the treasure map to his boys by mail with a letter describing the lost pirate treasure.  He also sent the treasure trove to the hotel’s concierge in Jamaica.  The plan was now in place.

The boys were agog with excitement as they boarded the plane destined to the Caribbean isle.  Once they arrived, Mike’s wife took the boys into town to purchase needed supplies while Mike took the opportunity to bury the "treasure" in remote places along the beach.

For an entire week, the family engaged in the hunt for treasure of as well of course as other activities.  The details of the map were purposely ambiguous ensuring hours of red-herrings and "dry-holes" before researching another clue to the final whereabouts of the missing treasure.

On the final day, the treasure found finally uncovered and the family celebrated their newfound riches over dinner that evening.

A little planning and a small incremental expense brought the Maddock family years of priceless memories and stories to tell future generations.

I wouldn’t trade any of my own vacation experiences for all the money in the world but this adventure definitely raised the bar.  My children are older now so I don’t think they would appreciate the treasure hunt game...but who knows...maybe one day my future grandchildren might...

Thanks Mike for sharing...if you’re this creative on your off-time...I can’t even imagine the innovation and creativity that you bring to your clients on a work-day...

...and thanks to our extended family for your continued support of OptiFuse where we hope you create new ways to find undiscovered treasures each and every day...

Jim Kalb

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