A Family by Any Other Name

A few thoughts about family from owner Aleta Nissen.

When you talk to most people who live in Bend, they do not have extended family living in town. People have chosen to live in Bend for very specific reasons – clean air, clean water, outdoor recreation access, small town feel, good schools, conservation-minded ethics. For all of those wonderful qualities, they have given up the benefit of living close to their extended family. Visiting parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews is usually a plane ride or a long car ride away. So, people who have chosen Bend as their home need to create second families with friends, co-workers and people of like-minds who have also chosen Bend and want to form a supportive community.

A couple weekends ago, we at Wanderlust Tours closed our offices for three days to head out together on our annual staff retreat…eating, relaxing and hiking up near Mt. Hood and the Sandy River. There are many guide and staff outings and activities throughout each year as we all look to each other as companions to play on volleyball leagues, climb mountains, carve pumpkins, have corned beef cook-offs, and in this we have chosen one of our families. It was fun to watch all of our staff together, a few new, most veteran Wanderlusters, and the dynamics they created between each other as the family bonds solidify.

A few years ago I heard a speaker from Oregon State University, a professor of Human Development and Family Sciences, and he spoke about a book called Traits of a Healthy Family by Dolores Curran. I came away from that lecture thinking that not only blood relations benefit from these traits and qualities, but also chosen families. I thought of our Wanderlust Tours family and realize that these traits are at the center of our Core Values as a company. I told myself I would create posters with these traits to hang all over our office and warehouse. I never did that because I realized that I see these traits being lived out amongst our Wanderlust family every day and being shared with our guests, which I hope is the true litmus test of our chosen family feeling strong, close and supported…when their primary family is living miles and states away.

TRAITS OF A HEALTHY (SECOND) FAMILY (Coming soon to a poster near you!)

1. COMMUNICATING – The healthy family communicates and listens.
2. AFFIRMING AND SUPPORTING – The healthy family affirms and supports one      another.
3. RESPECTING OTHERS – The healthy family teaches respect for others.
4. TRUSTING – The healthy family develops a sense of trust.
5. SHARING TIME – The healthy family has a sense of play and humor.
6. FOSTERING RESPONSIBILITY – The healthy family exhibits a sense of shared responsibility.
7. TEACHING VALUES – The healthy family shares a consensus of important values.
8. ENJOYING TRADITIONS – The healthy family has rich rituals and traditions.
9. RESPECTING PRIVACY – The healthy family respects the privacy of one another.
10. VALUING SERVICE – The healthy family values service to others.
11. PROBLEM SOLVING – The healthy family expects problems and develops problem-solving techniques.

As the de facto “mom” of this family and the mother in my own little family, I feel fortunate that these traits have come easily to our Wanderlust Tours clan – a testament to the good people with whom we have surrounded ourselves and chosen as our second family.