Self Reliant Kids

I grew up in Oklahoma, running around half wild during the summer months. I can remember walking with younger siblings and friends to the local convenience store with allowance money to spend on candy and cheap toys.  I walked to school more often than not. That didn’t change when we moved to Iowa. I walked to school every day of high school. If it was raining, I put on a rainslicker and rolled up my pants. Or I left them down and dealt with annoyingly wet cuffs for the morning. If it was really cold, I put a hat on. No big deal.

Not so anymore. Helicopter Parenting is now the way of the land. Apparently unsupervised children are now (practically) illegal. A father recently had his daughter arrested and taken to the cop shop.

We’ve taught our six-year-old about crossing the street, reading maps, etc.  As she’s learned these skills we’ve let her try them out, first with supervision, and then on her own, to make short trips around the neighborhood.  We live in a fairly average residential neighborhood that has a mixture of stop signs, stop lights, and crosswalks.  The state that we live in does not have any laws regarding a minimum age for a child to be unattended.
Recently, Emily went by herself to a small store a few blocks away. When she was out a little longer than I expected, I went looking for her.  The shopkeeper said that as she was walking out the door the police were coming in, asking if  anyone there was her parent. Then they took her.
Then of course the cops wouldn’t let her go without trying to get CPS involved.

Playground equipment is inspected and guildlined to death in Fairfax County in the eternal quest for risk free ways to foster the physical and mental development of young Americans. (Here’s a hint, kids need risk to learn!)

Iowa Girl Scouts are selling all of their camp properties. Saying in a letter to parents:

The sale of the properties will open the door for us to respond to current trends and needs of girls in our council. At the recommendation of the property committee, we’re excited about exploring the development of a new outdoor learning center which could help us meet the expectations of our current Girl Scout membership.

Trends and needs like technology access and climate control.  All of which I’m sure will be abundant in the new outdoor learning center. Which could help them meet expectations, but probably will be a worthless overthought excuse for a camp, fostering zero life lessons.

But the girls will be able to tweet about it when they hit the target with the arrow! Or live blog the campfire each night so Mommy and Daddy can check in. *sigh* ok ok, letting it go now….

It worries me folks.  How will we end up with self reliant adults if we don’t make self reliant kids first?

– Calamity Jane

32 comments… add one
  • javelin March 5, 2013, 7:21 am

    my wife and I were having this same talk last week. Yes, my kids do spend their share of time on the computer, but we are also fortunate enough to live in a rural area and they get to go play in the woods or walk to friends up the road. My wife is a high school teacher and we see kids who cant (wont) get anywhere or do anything without a ride / escort all the time.
    Kids do need to get out on their own.

    • T.R. March 5, 2013, 3:38 pm

      Another good argument for compulsory service . Dont worry about what your going to do after high school or 18th birthday ( whichever comes first ) , male and female , your going into the military .

  • Tactical Daddy March 5, 2013, 7:46 am

    Aren’t they “self relient” when they can call “help desk”? Just kidding, though it isn’t very funny. We’re lucky enough to live on about 4½ acres of land with some woods on it, so we’re out hammock-camping every year in the garden. My oldest twin daughter is a competitive rifle shooter at the age of 8 and my youngest twin daughter wants to go an a summer-vagabond hike with her daddy! Makes me a proud Daddy

  • corky March 5, 2013, 7:48 am

    You are right. This upcoming generation has an uncertain future. My step-daughter only texts because “talking to people is weird.” How will they do things like interview for a job when talking to a friend on the phone is weird? Where do we draw the line on the gov. to how we should raise our kids? I’m concerned too! If we don’t stop putting our heads in the sand and start demanding our right that have been paid for in blood, the state of our union looks grim at best.

  • irishdutchuncle March 5, 2013, 7:58 am

    “It’s (really bad) for the children!”

    We as a society don’t really want the self-reliant, living among US? do we?

  • rush2112 March 5, 2013, 8:01 am

    i agree with you. the govt wants everyone dependent on them. cant bite the hand that feeds afterall.

  • Ken Reynolds March 5, 2013, 8:24 am

    I can’t even fathom the idea of having no self-reliance, nor the absence of opportunity to gain self-reliance. I am an Eagle Scout and am highly thankful for the years of my childhood that were spent camping in the woods, making fires from scratch with wood and firestarters, learning how to navigate using a map and compass, learning how to properly and safely use an axe, pack a backpack, pitch a tent, identify major stars and constellations, anticipate basic weather changes through simple weather observation techniques…the list goes on.

    I firmly believe our country is in the state it is in now due to the increasing dearth of self-reliant, self-starting people with a mindset on building what they don’t have, helping others, and being part of their local community. If this doesn’t change it will be easy for the government to usurp our freedoms and take over all aspects of our lives.

    I, for my small part, intend to begin teaching my daughter how to be self-reliant this year, beginning with taking her camping for the first time, showing her how to pitch a tent, make a fire, identify stars, etc. It’s too important to ignore.

  • SD3 March 5, 2013, 8:49 am

    “I grew up…running around half wild during the summer months.”

    Is there any other way?!? :-)

  • Jason March 5, 2013, 9:16 am

    When my 7 year old son was that age (6), I allowed him to ride his Razor scooter quite a long distance – many times, through the city streets while I followed in a car at a reasonable distance. He was followed on 2 occasions by “concerned parents” who both game me the major stink eye thinking I was some sort of stalker. I found it a bit funny as you can imagine I would ….

    My goal was & is to give my little guy a sense of self reliance with supervision & gradually ease up over time. I moved to a very working class neighborhood about 2 years ago as part of my debt elimination plan & most all of the kids from 5-9 years old walk to school which is about a mile away on a reasonably busy street. Nobody thinks twice about it.

    As far as the Girl Scout thing, I think that is utter stupidity. Their lives now are exposed to all of the technology & then some from their peers, why carry it on in a course about teaching kids about the outdoors? I’d love to have their address to write them a well crafted letter. **hint** :-)

    • Calamity Jane March 5, 2013, 9:28 am

      Headquarters &
      Des Moines Leadership Center
      10715 Hickman Rd
      Des Moines, IA 50322-3733
      Direct: (515) 278-2881

      A letter would be greatly appreciated.

      • Jason March 5, 2013, 1:10 pm

        I will do it today – I think it is such a poor & lame maneuver by those in charge.

      • irishdutchuncle March 5, 2013, 1:41 pm

        funny, I just sent the BSA an e-mail suggesting they disband, rather than cave in on the issue of “Morally Straight”. The Girl Scout “Promise” isn’t quite as severe.

  • TinMan March 5, 2013, 9:32 am

    “We’ve built a world safe for fools, and now are overrun by them”

    in New Bedford, Massachusetts the authorities have removed all playground equipment at a popular city park as being dangerous to small children. I suppose they replaced the swing sets with sofa’s.
    It’s a shame that we have allowed what these altruistic, politically correct, touchy-feely Libtards have done to this country.

    • ORRN on LI March 5, 2013, 10:12 am

      Too many law suits from a broken wrist here and a concussion there, sue happy parents looking to make a buck on juniors boo boo. Someone’s gotta pay ………When I was a kid, we played hard, and learned hard, I feel bad for the kids today, they really don’t get to feel the freedoms and adventures of being a kid, we keep them sheltered and protected then expect them to be capable adults, I think they are going to be missing some life skills that you only get through childhood experiences we are not exposing them too. I know without a doubt I would get the freak eye from my neighbors if I didn’t accompany my 7 year old to the bus stop down the corner. At that age I was walking to the bus stop myself with my little sister in tow. Rain and snow no different, mom didn’t have the luxury of a car to sit in & wait for the bus.

  • riverrider March 5, 2013, 9:53 am

    “i don’t need to win you over, i have your children.” a. hitler.

    • irishdutchuncle March 5, 2013, 1:23 pm

      yeh, what TinMan said. yeh, what ORRN, said, and especially what riverrider said.

  • kevin March 5, 2013, 11:09 am

    this has gotten to the point that i would rather live out in the middle of no where rather than deal with all the big government bs rules

  • Sgt. Survivor March 5, 2013, 12:07 pm

    I was a in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from Tiger Cub all the way to Eagle Scout. As a Boy Scout in Eastern Oklahoma I attended Camp Tom Hale. We went #1 in the woods, #2 in holes in the ground, ate in an un-air conditioned chow hall, learned to search for drowning victims in the muddy lake, hiked the Bohannon Trail and we loved it! The first few years were great and then something changed…they built actual toilets and showers at each campsite, a new high tech chow hall with a/c, a pool, a fake snow ski slope (the kind with plastic pegs) an told us we couldn’t pee in the woods!? That was the last year I went. They changed the name to Hale Scout Reservation…even though I think it would be more appropriate to call it Hale Scout Resort. They took the camp out of camping. It was just another step in making kids less self sufficient. Boy Scouts are supposed to be the epitome of self sufficient young men! Anyhow, that is the rant and old feelings that this brought up for me. BTW, this all happened 16-17 years ago when I was 12-13 years old…I hate to think about what my favorite summer camp has become today.

  • T.R. March 5, 2013, 3:05 pm

    • Jason March 5, 2013, 3:31 pm

      very interesting video!

      • wilson March 5, 2013, 11:25 pm

        Russian Bolsheviks would dress in Polish police uniforms to circulate within the Polish population in the 1930’s. Part of the outcome was the mass executions of 3,000 military and police found in a mass grave at Katyn Wood. Some things never change.

    • GoneWithTheWind March 6, 2013, 11:10 am

      I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy but this fails common sense. An unnamed “national guard” stopped an unconfirmed armored vehicle and told this to another unnamed contact and it gets reported on a web site that specializes in pure unadulterated fictional reporting. Yeah, I’m not buying it. I did like the other story on the site where an F22 intercepted an alien flying saucer though…

  • gat31 March 5, 2013, 5:22 pm

    man at 6 yo l walked to and from school everyday. The rule of thumb til l was an adult practically was if the sun was out so were you. You couldn’t have paid me to stay inside. The kids today are so pampered about everything they are making horrible adults that are so self centered and unable to do anything for themselves. It’s so sad

  • Pineslayer March 5, 2013, 10:23 pm

    Amen Jane

    I have to admit that I am always worried when my girls are out of sight. There are just too many freaks out there and striking a balance is the hardest thing. I grew up virtually unsupervised when not in school, but that was a different time. I will be guilty of spying and following in the shadows, good practice :) The best I can do now is keep extending the leash. I am continuing to teach situation awareness to them and trying not to be to….paranoid. Another big push here is endurance training, swimming and cross country. When the bad guy is on the ground hacking up a lung after chasing them, rule #2 comes into play.

  • Pineslayer March 6, 2013, 12:00 am

    As much as I love a good conspiracy theory, an armed subversive foreign task force would find that they are woefully outnumbered very quickly. Even though most Americans are unarmed (both mentally and physically) and unwilling to fight for what is right. There are enough rifles to make life short and miserable for them. They know it, hence the attack through the system to change the balance. It will take decades of this way of war to make it viable. They do not have the time for that so I’m going with strategically placed mayhem makers. I believe it was Brezhnev? that said we would kill ourselves. Hmmm…

  • paseodelnorte March 6, 2013, 12:10 am

    Take a look at the Texas Trails Council BSA website for their Camp Billy Gibbons. They are teaching climbing/rappelling, survival skills, canoeing, and wilderness first aid to older Boy Scouts at a remote primitive camp. (no internet and limited cell phone) It makes me feel better that there are at least a few places that haven’t wimped out yet.

  • forest March 6, 2013, 12:53 am

    Frankly, what I see is that people are far more likely (not that exceptions don’t happen) to let their sons go free rather than their daughters. Sure, train the girls, but don’t let them go free. Scowl over their boyfriends but not the girlfriends of the sons. I understand the danger. But educate your girls, as well as your boys, to love adventure as well as the outdoors, and to recognize danger.

    • Calamity Jane March 6, 2013, 9:27 am

      Preach on!

    • Jason March 6, 2013, 10:33 am

      That makes too much sense Forest, you must not be human.

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. March 6, 2013, 9:02 am

    Childhood is way different now than mine in the 1970’s. ‘Out’ was a fair description of where I was most of the day, appearing for lunch time snack and back around supper time. Bicycling – fishing – hiking – exploring – skate boarding – football – baseball – basketball – all ‘Out’ activities. TV was two channels, no computers.

    • Jason March 6, 2013, 10:42 am

      Isn’t that funny – today’s kids would call that boring. We were better off in L.A., we had 7 channels & they shut off from midnight to 6 a.m.

      Ever notice how the vast majority of people walk around with their heads down while concentrating on what they are texting? As if things are really that important to type in as opposed to making a call.

  • Chad Douglas March 9, 2013, 8:26 am

    “We’ve built a world safe for fools, and now are overrun by them”
    This has to be THE best way to say what I’ve been thinking for a long time!!!
    As a father of 3 in today’s world I know it’s hard I don’t know how my parents were ok with not know where I was for 6-8 hours a day. But I take them camping hiking fishing hunting all but my youngest can set up a decent camp and light a fire . They start with the BB gun at 6 and move up as they show their ready.


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