The Dangers of Letting Children Lead

            Parents, it’s important to remember that many times kids have no fear. Each time we go camping I try to remind myself of this fact and still I follow my kids anywhere. This particular adventure takes me right up a rock face.
The dark woods on the hike to Zapata Falls,
Colorado. Raw and rugged!
            We got up early to hike the cool, dark trail to Zapata Falls, which is just south of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. What a change of scenery!
When we got to the falls, our son climbed up an almost vertical rock to the top. The girls soon followed. They follow their brother everywhere. But this time, my husband climbed up, too.
Me? I was admiring the crystal clear, icy mountain rapids tumbling over rocks, boulders, and logs. The frigid water burbled by my feet as if it had forgotten all about the tumble it took off the cliff ledge.
Then the family called to me from atop the rock face. I pretended I couldn’t hear because of the sound of the rapids. But then my husband did his famous whistle. You know, that whistle that all dads use to call home their children in the neighborhood.
I started to tremble. Why couldn’t they just leave me to my terra firma? Loose rock, dirt, no footholds or handholds. That’s not my idea of adventure. But then I heard all the children encouraging me. My son came back down a ways to help guide me up, the little angel. I couldn’t delay any longer.
Wearing a ball cap limited my vision. This was probably a good thing in my situation. Like I’ve said before, I’ve got this thing about edges. I couldn’t look up to see my son; so he guided me by his black shoelaces. My son’s shoelaces are always untied, and in this particular situation, they were hanging down below his shoes. So I followed the little bits of laces I could see in front of me as I clung to the rock. I focused on his tenor voice, the directions he gave—even though I couldn’t find those blasted foot ledges and hand grips he spoke of.
Suddenly a deep bass voice penetrated my consciousness. “No son! You’re taking her off the cliff ledge!”
My husband, my hero! 
But the tenor voice was back, calm as ever. “Okay, Mom,” it said. “Move to your right.”
Instinctively, I looked left. Nothing but air! And for some reason, I couldn’t get that air inside my lungs. I went back to staring at the rock face two inches in front of me. My nails scraped the rock trying to get a better grip.
“Where are the shoelaces?” I screeched.
“Where are the what, Mom?” My son asked.
Little drips of black came into my vision again. “Come lower.” I told my son.
            For the love of black shoelaces, the lengths of which finally dangled into my view. Cautiously, slowly, I followed them up the side of the rock.
            Once I got to the top, my family cheered and I finally started breathing again.
What a spectacular view—once I was sitting down with my family. The San Luis Valley, mountains, sand dunes in the distance, lakes reflecting a powder blue sky.
 Ah, but we needed to get down too.
We faced the rock and climbed down slowly. My husband went first and helped the girls and then me. My son the Billy goat had his own way down—which I don’t recommend to anyone. What an exhilarating climb!
Always pay attention to your surroundings and your abilities. Within reason, live adventurously. The memories and excitement stay with you and your family forever. Do you have any exciting adventure you wish to share on Camping with Kids? Please leave a note in the comments section. Thanks!

8 thoughts on “The Dangers of Letting Children Lead”

  1. Hi Victoria – not something I'd enjoy doing either – well done is all I can say … I certainly could understand what you went through from your descriptions.

    I went with some college kids on a long walk in the Cape, South Africa … fine on the way up – then we met a river … which after lunch we followed down … past one 10 foot or so falling water and onto a darker patch ahead … and a straight drop into a creek – not fun I don't like heights, I'm not the best swimmer, we had clothes on and rucksacks – not much, but something! … eventually I jumped and went down, down, down, down – til my lungs felt they were going to burst and did come up (as you can see!) … not funny and I had nightmares for a long time … but I remember it well!

    It was an adventure … then the swim, then the walking over the huge pebble stones back eventually to the car park … exhausting 10 hour day … let alone the emotions …

    Glad you got safely down – well written up … cheers Hilary

  2. You are the best, Hilary! Thanks for your kind words.
    Wow! The Cape in South Africa. I bet that is stunning. Talk about bravery, you survived a ten hour day with college kids, a long, long, long, hike AND Jumping into a dark creek. I would be terrified.
    We jumped off a cliff into the Ausable River in the Adirondack Mountains in New York and I thought my heart would stop, I was so terrified.
    It’s always a pleasure seeing you here at Camping with Kids, Hilary. Thanks so much for your comment. All the best to you, my dear!

  3. Now I can understand your wife's difficulties with vertigo. My vertigo enhances whenever the children are nearby. I'm always worried that they may bump into or push at each other like they do on the ground, without thinking about the danger by edges. My husband says I worry too much. I tell him it comes with being a Mom.

    You're right, Bill. Kids do climb all the time–especially mine! Always a pleasure seeing you here at Camping with Kids. All the best to you, sir.

  4. I'd be scared to climb anything of the nature you've described. Walking up a hill is about the extent of upward travel that you'd find me doing. And it would be a short easy hill to walk up. I am not a rough and tumble adventurer by any means.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  5. I feel safest on level ground myself, Lee. But I love views and I love mountains and waterfalls and, well, nature and adventure. I don't think my kids would allow me to be anything else. Always a pleasure seeing you here at Camping with Kids. Thanks so much for your note. All the best to you, sir.

  6. I agree. I told Lee that I feel safest on level ground. But how can I let the children have all the adventure without me? I guess I need to swallow some of my fear and follow them, even up the side of a boulder. Thanks so much for visiting Camping with Kids, Michelle, and leaving a note. It's greatly appreciated.


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