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Modern Parenthood

Montana hikers found as one mom and son learn hiking Rule 1 (+video)

Montana hikers lost in Glacier Park were found safe on Monday; the day before, a mom from their home state, Virginia, lost her eight-year-old for 90 minutes on a hike. Rangers' Rule 1 to teach kids, she learned: Stay put and wait for help when you get lost on the trail.

By Lisa SuhayCorrespondent / October 17, 2012

Montana hikers were found safe Monday in Glacier National Park, shown here in a photo from Oct. 7, 2012. A mom back in the hikers' home state, Virginia, learned hiking Rule 1 while they were missing and her son went astray: Stay put and wait for help when you get lost.



Norfolk, Virg.

On Sunday, Quin, eight, ran ahead on a state park trail and wasn’t at the end waiting for us when we arrived and thoughts of the two adult hikers, from Virginia, lost in a Montana's Glacier National Park sprang to mind. In the 90-minutes it took to find our son, I repeatedly wished we’d taken precautions beyond bug spray and a restroom break, before we embarked on the trip. We'd taught him self-reliance, but learned later we should have taught him enough faith in us to stay put and wait to be found.

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Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

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Come Monday, the parents of Neal Peckens, 32, Herndon, Va., and Jason Hiser, of Richmond, Va., who had been missing for more than three days in Glacier, were reunited with their families. I thought about the moms waiting at the airport to greet their adult children and wondered if they too had spent time regretting not having taught them more.

We went to the Sandy Run Regional Park at Lake Occoquan in Lorton, Va. to root for our eldest son as he rowed for Virginia Commonwealth University, in the Occoquan Chase event. The trail seemed so simple, to an adult, that when my husband and I headed for the outdoor stadium, and I had fell behind, my husband stopped to wait for me. He told Quinny to go on ahead to the outdoor stadium ahead.

Later, there would be much discussion on this point of order. Moms hold on and dads push little boys to greater deeds, but this was the wrong time and place to do the latter.

The trail would split ahead and Quin had never been told to follow the water and so he followed his spirit of adventure instead. He’s a little boy and a trail that goes steeply up is more fun than a flat trail ahead because it means that later you can zoom down a big “mountain.” Kid logic often trumps parent logic by a country mile and about 90-minutes. It takes no time for a child to get lost in the woods, but every minute the child is missing feels like a lifetime.

We hadn’t thought to do any of the things I would later learn from Kathy Kupper, a spokesperson for the National Parks Service in Washington, D.C. are mission-critical for families heading into any regional, state, or national park.


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