Earlier this summer I was on a hike with my kids. I wanted to move down the trail, I was craving speed and distance.

But, my 3 year old had something else on his mind. We had been talking about what to do if he got lost that morning. He had watched a YouTube video about the ‘Hug a Tree’ method after breakfast so being lost was on his mind.

Raising Wilderness Savvy Children (1)

All of a sudden he stopped in the middle of the trail and said “Mom, can I practice being lost?”

So he did, I let him walk down the trail a really short distance by himself. Then he’d stop, say “I’m lost!” sit down and start blowing his whistle.

Then I would walk down the trail calling his name until he would say, “Mama, I’m here!!!”

This continued for over a half an hour. While I was disappointed to only make it 1/2 mile that day I felt like practicing to be lost was really the best thing we could have done on that beautiful summer morning.

So how do you raise wilderness savvy children? How do you raise children who know not to drink untreated pond water or wander too close to a cliff? Or children who know what to do if they become separated from the group?

I think the first step is to set a good example, to talk to our children about the decisions we make on the trails and explain to them why we make the decisions that we do.

The next step is to teach them. To not be afraid to talk about hard and sometimes scary topics like wildlife, getting hurt or becoming lost, but to find ways to approach these topics that are positive. 

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For me the last step is vital, it’s to rehearse and to practice.

I’d love to chat about your thoughts on raising wilderness savvy children and learn what your family is doing to teach your children about risk and risk management.  So join me for a google hangout soon. Check your local Facebook page for updates. If you’re interested comment below with your gmail address or send an email to rebecca (at)justtrails(dot)com

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