I have come to the realization that having an adventure doesn’t necessary mean being in danger.
Case in point is my trip to the World Scout Jamboree in Japan. At no point in the trip was I ever really in danger although attending the jamboree along with the pre-camp and stay with a Tokyo family was definitely the adventure of a lifetime.
(You could argue, I suppose, that being on an airplane for 14 and 12 hours respectively constitutes danger, but really?)
Granted, some adventures ARE dangerous. Climbing Mount Everest is most definitely dangerous AND an adventure. Going up and then down a slide for the very first time is also an adventure (and possibly dangerous if child has no adult supervision).
This realization has led me to change my definition of danger somewhat. Now (and this applies to writing and to life) adventure is, some activity that causes a person/character to see or do something new wherein they learn something new.
Simple enough, I think. Again, using the child as the example, going to the grocery store alone to buy milk for the very first time is an adventure. The child may or may not be confident/afraid/uncertain/whatever. That is beside the point. The experience is a first and the child will learn something; his or her world will expand ever so little. Is it dangerous? That depends on the neighborhood. For example are there mean dogs or thugs or sinkholes or venomous critters in abundance? May child needs to cross a busy road. Regardless, the trip doesn’t need danger to be an adventure.
My son surprised me just the other day asking how to get to a certain park we’ve been to many times. The difference this time is, he is driving there without me. Surely an adventure for him although he probably wouldn’t think it was much of one. 🙂
A story can be exciting without that element of danger too. Perspective plays a huge part in the equation. If you are telling it from the child’s point-of-view, you can bring to play any fears he or she might have. What things are new or different? How has their world changed. All of these things will improve the experience.