Meet the poster children for enthusiasm for family travel: 14-year-old Sawyer and 12-year-old Lawson Massey from Chevy Chase, Maryland! Together, they created “GoGeoKids,” an Instagram profile that features clips about their personal family travel adventures with mom and dad. When the pandemic began in mid-March of 2020, people started feeling unsettled by the new directive to stay home due to the novel coronavirus. Like all other schoolchildren, Sawyer and Lawson were required to begin schooling from home.
Highlighting visits to 50 states
Sawyer and Lawson wisely used their new homebound time to create a simple social media profile to share photos and memories from their vast experiences traveling throughout the U.S. By posting their photos online, the boys have relived their travels and invited the Instagram community to enjoy and celebrate their fondness for travel and exploration.
According to the boys, the idea to create an Instagram profile came in about February 2020. Their mom was helping some people with career advice and one of those people encouraged their family to write a book about their family travel adventures. The four members of the Massey family began to work together to plan and write the book. In the meantime, Sawyer and Lawson got busy creating simple videos and posting photo slideshows about their travels. Instagram happened to be the best, easiest, most cost-effective way to share their travels with others.
The “GoGeoKids” Instagram feed features pictures of the Massey family smiling and posing in a variety of locations. The photos showcase trips they took over a span of several years. The boys accompany their photos with thoughtful words, memories and perspectives about the places they’ve visited. The boys take turns posting words and pictures to their feed, making “GoGeoKids” a strictly child-led effort.
Their photos are refreshingly natural and unstaged. The commentary and questions they pose to their followers reflect both educational insight and a youthful sincerity to learn more about the natural world and attractions all over the U.S.
In a span of four years, the Massey family visited all 50 states and created an ingenious plan to take selfies at each of the 50 state lines (the brainchild of the boys’ dad). They also developed specific intentions to discover hidden gems in each of the states. The boys posted to their feed top features from each state and a bucket list of where they’d like to visit the next time they get to go on a family adventure.
Keeping it local
Despite going on the road to visit intriguing cities and attractions in every state, Sawyer and Lawson have a soft spot for their own backyard. They relish every opportunity they get to walk, hike and ride their bikes throughout many of our area’s parks. The boys are also unafraid to climb rock structures and hilly areas, reaching peaks and marveling at the scenic views of their elevated positions. They recognize the importance of exploring unknown places and are attracted to opportunities to learn facts and history from statues, monuments and forts.
Sawyer and Lawson encourage children of all ages to disconnect from electronic devices to breathe in the fresh air, go for a walk or bike ride and go sightseeing in the many nooks and crannies of the D.C. area. According to Sawyer, “There is no need for phones. You’re out in nature, escaping for a little bit. You always see people and animals and plants.”
Here’s a list of their favorite daytrips (in no particular order):
- Billy Goat Trail Loop – A 7-mile loop trail in Potomac where people can bike or walk at their pace. According to Lawson, “there are so many things to see along the tow path. It feels like you’re walking on clouds. The waterfall feels like Niagara Falls. Go to the ‘watchpoints’ to see things from different angles. It shows you how fast the water moves!”
- Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Park – 184 miles of adventure along the Potomac River spanning from West Virginia, through Maryland and ending up in D.C.
- National Mall and Memorial Parks – A beautifully landscaped park located near the U.S. Capitol, reaching the Potomac River. Contains historical monuments and memorials spread out throughout 1,000 acres.
- Fort McHenry – A unique coastal fort shaped in the form of a pentagon. Located in Baltimore, it is well-known for playing a role in the War of 1812 and where Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner.
- Rock Creek Park – A 1,757-acre national park located in Northwest D.C. features lovely walking trails, parks, playgrounds and historical buildings including working mills and colonial houses.
- Shenandoah Valley – A huge expanse of natural terrain that goes along an upward slope along the northeastern border of West Virginia to the northwestern border of Virginia. Discover nature trails, natural caverns, campgrounds, historic sites and a multitude of attractions.
- Catoctin Mountain National State Park – A heavily forested park in north-central Maryland that offers 25 miles of walking trails and unique educational resources to tell stories about people who used the mountain to do different things.
- Assateague Island National Seashore – A 37-mile island along the coasts of Maryland and Virginia featuring the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Virginia side.
Sawyer and Lawson also recommend that fourth graders get a pass that allows them and their families access to visit public parks, lands and waters free for a whole year! Visit everykidoutdoors.gov for more information. To learn more about Sawyer and Lawson and to get updates on their upcoming family travel book, see instagram.com/gogeokids.
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