Monday, January 31, 2011

Old Forest Badge

On Saturday night, we went to a potluck over at Dan & Ashley's house. While the kids played hide and go seek in the front yard, some friends told us the story of "losing" their son, Bob, in Overton Park when he was younger. He basically took a wrong turn on one of the sidewalks near Rainbow Lake and ended up by the Zoo rather than by their car. After 15 minutes of torture, they were reunited.

I mentioned that I someday planned to let the monkeys go through the forest trails alone for fun, for adventure, and to see how well they know them after visiting 100s if not 1000s of times with us. I joked that I would give them an Old Forest Badge. Well, as I was talking, the kids (Satchel, Jiro, Bob, and Dan & Ashley's son, Gus) came in and immediately said, "Let's do it!"

On Sunday morning there was much excitement all around. "Is Gus coming to survive with us?" Satchel asked me as soon as he woke up. I suggested we do a trial run with just us, but Ashley texted and said Gus & Bob both wanted to get their badges ASAP. So, we all met up at the park.


Satchel and Jiro were SO excited. Satchel eagerly packed a bag with survival gear--a Power Bar, a huge bag of almonds, and water. Jiro seemed a little nervous until he heard that Gus and Bob were coming for sure. Then he kicked into big kid mode. (Gus is 11 and Bob is 12.)

Warren and I went back on forth as to whether to give them a phone, the dogs, a map, etc. In the end, we decided on no phone, one dog, and a verbal route. I took a picture of everyone, looked at my watch, and set them loose.

The kids wanted to meet at the golf house, so Ashley and I drove over while Warren and our other dog walked around the forest. Ashley and I were at the golf house for about two seconds before we saw the kids come barreling out of the woods! Their entire journey took exactly 8 minutes. It was a little anti-climactic! I thought they'd goof off and was expecting a 30-45 minute trip.

As they made their way over to us, I asked if they ran the whole way. They tried to pretend they hadn't, but I could see huffing, red cheeks, and sweaty brows. As the four of them split the Power Bar, I suggested they go back through, but walk this time.

I called Warren to alert him to the new plan, and he suggested that they start off on a different trail, one we hadn't taken in a long time. I agreed, thinking they needed more of a challenge. They were all game, so I led them to a different trail and said goodbye for a second time.

This time I could hear them chatting and it was clear that they were going to take it slow and enjoy the way back. Ashley and I waited until we couldn't hear them, then drove back around to where we were going to meet up.

After fifteen minutes or so, they actually ran into Warren, but he let them go ahead of him. At that point, Ashley and I decided to earn our own badge by taking a trip through ourselves. A half hour later, we all met up at the playground.

There were huge smiles all around.

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