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.
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“Before you arrive at the park give young child a whistle to wear around the neck, make sure they have a granola bar and a little bottle of water in their pockets,” she told me. “Drum it into them that Rule 1 is: stop and wait to be found.” This, she emphasized, goes for adults too.Skip to next paragraph
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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“The moment you realize you’ve gone wrong and might be lost, sit down on the spot and wait,” she said. “Don’t go on getting more lost and don’t try and retrace. Just stay put.”
Only in cases where you are lost deep in the woods with no trail should you try to follow water to civilization. That’s extreme lost for hikers vs. lost kid on a maze of trails.
The battle parents face is that this thinking flies in the face of all things kid. When you’re afraid, you want to get to help faster. “Wait” is to a lost 8-year-old, as “don’t panic” is to a parent who has just absorbed the reality that the child is not appearing as time evaporates.
Ms. Kupper warned, “I don’t like to scare people, but when a child is lost they start running and it’s just too easy to slip and become fatally injured by falling down steep inclines or into water.”
So we must impress upon those we love that they have to have faith and trust.
“You have to let people find you,” Kupper said. “You have to trust the seekers. Rangers will find you faster and easier if you stay put.”
She added that one of the things that can work against children who have been taught about stranger danger is to ask a passing adult for help. Our son actually ran across an adult who asked, “Are you all alone here?” Quin, fearing telling a stranger he was alone and vulnerable, said, “My Papa’s right down the trail there.”
Fortunately, this was one of the times his having Autism Spectrum Aspergers Syndrome may have played a small role in helping him get found because he went into logic mode instead of panicking and getting off the trail. Having a very good memory, he carefully retraced his steps, counting turns, ups and downs until he got far enough back that he met my haggard husband on the trail. However, as we all know now, had he stayed in one spot and waited, the find would have been much faster.
No matter what age our children are when they go missing we, as parents, feel we should have done more, been better to prevent it. In this case at least there is a bit more nagging we can do to help.
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