In the summer of 2000 my boys were five and three. They had been watching "Goonies" over and over (as kids sometimes do). When they played it was always about pirate treasure. So I created the dream vacation for them at Cannon Beach, Oregon, and it is one of my fondest memories. As you plan family gatherings, keep this in mind.

1. I booked a vacation home at Cannon Beach, Oregon.

2. As soon as I had my reservation, I began looking for a cool wooden box. I found mine at a local craft store, but you can also search pawn shops, antique stores and places like Tai Pan Trading.

3. Next I kept my eyes open for cheap treasures. A lot of people buy chocolate coins and Mardi Gras beads. That's a great idea, but I wanted my treasure chest to be more authentic. Dollar Store jewelry, sales at Walmart, garage sales and pawn shops are great places to find cheap jewels. I also bought fake pirate coins but you could perhaps ask a coin store for worthless coins.

Cannon Beach Surf via Facebook

4. I found a specialty paper store to sell me paper that looked and felt like papyrus. I burned the edges and roughed it up a bit.

5. I got an old wine bottle with a cork (getting the bottle empty was the funnest part).

6. When I got to Cannon Beach I asked for some time alone and I used logs and rocks on the beach to make my map. I wrote it out in "paces" and sent them all over the beach. I buried the treasure somewhere that could be drawn with detail on the map. I knew my dad had a metal detector, so I didn't need to be very exact, but if you don't have one, your treasure will need to be easy to find. Then I buried my chest and headed back to the house.

Cannon Beach Surf via Facebook

7. One night I slipped the bottle with the finished map into my diaper bag and went for a walk on the beach with the boys. When they weren't looking I threw it into the surf and let them find it. I intentionally did it at night to make finding the bottle seem more an accident. It also had the effect of allowing the anticipation to build. All around, splitting the adventure into two days made it come off as more authentic and magical.

Cannon Beach Conference Center via Facebook

8. In the morning I let the boys follow the map with my dad's metal detector while everyone watched from a safe distance. They followed the map exactly and dug with their little shovels and pales. Seeing their joy and excitement when they thought they'd found some of One-Eyed Willie's treasure was priceless.

Cannon Beach Conference Center via Facebook

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