Saturday, February 2, 2013

50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do)

If you're a climber and a parent, I think the book Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) will resonate with you too.  I couldn't recommend it more highly.  The main idea of the book is that when we round all the edges, put up safety rails everywhere, and protection eventually becomes overprotection, children don't learn the difference between what's just unknown and what's really dangerous.  That protecting all kids, from all risks, all the time, will eventually lead them to have a lack of competence in the world.  That we can teach kids to be more competent, confident, and comfortable in the world, by introducing them to risk in a gradual way.  Show them how to explore in a safe manner, and when they are ready, let them explore on their own.  The idea seems sound to me, but the best part of the book is that it has 50 fully explained activities that help you do that with your children.

I just got the book last week, and I'll be treating it like a bouldering guidebook.  Ticking as many of the boxes as I can.  My daughters and I started at # 1 last night.  We tasted electricity by licking a nine volt battery.  That went pretty well.  So today we jumped ahead to #31 and went underground.  The timing was perfect.  Recently, I was given a tour of a cave just a short drive from home.  Lander continues to offer up amazing surprises.  Don't expect to just find it though.  You need to get to know the right people and ask them to unlock the gate.  I invited a couple other families along for the adventure.  Only the dads showed up.  Andy and Devlin brought their daughters, and Devlin brought his dad, Tom.  Here are some photos from the cave.

Andy and a beautifully water sculpted ceiling.
 Sierra and Autumn checking out ice crystals near the entrance.
 Surf Wyoming
 The underground stream.
 Nice water carved fins of stone.
We all had a good time.  Cave exploring hits a lot of the same buttons that climbing does, and it's a nice winter activity.  This cave isn't suitable for bouldering, but it makes me wonder if I should look around for one that would be.  A dry cave of this rock type could offer year round bouldering, if the right one is ever found...

Oh, I got distracted by climbing again.  Sorry.  So two activities have been done, and we have 48 to go.  Our next project might be making our own slingshots, or cooking some food in the dishwasher.  Now that I've been reading this book, it doesn't feel so strange that we let our daughters belay each other at the cliffs with a Gri Gri on toprope.  We're just being responsible parents, helping our kids learn competence.  Maybe the safest path in life is to learn the right way to take risks?

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