The hikers

May 1, 2023

Spring is the sweet season of renewal. Birds are calling out to one another.  The flowers show off their inner sweetness calling to the bees.  And for humans, there is a renewed sense of being in our gardens or just being outside.   Spring is a great time to let go of the winter blanket and try something new!

I invited my 7th grade group to head out on the trails by themselves (I had an eye on them the whole time!). This was something new for many of them.  Letting go in this manner can teach independence and allow for decision making without an adult giving direct guidance. 

At this point, most of the 12 & 13-year-olds in this group have formed a “parent voice” in their heads and sometimes it is good to let them exercise it under their own control.  Functioning within a group is a microcosm of a society.  There are leaders, decision makers, followers, rule makers, ruler breakers, storytellers and observers.  So as this group set out, I explained that I will be within earshot if there was a problem. We also reviewed trail etiquette, stressing importance of respecting other hikers in the meadows. 

Off they went giggling and ready for their own adventure stopping along the way to look at the deer grazing in the fields, birds and blossoming trees.  From a distance, I could hear murmurings of their conversations, as they explored and figured out where to go next.

Far too often kids are not givin the opportunity to make their own decisions.  Think about your child’s day; school (teacher directed), after school (parent directed), sports or clubs (adult directed).  Are we giving kids the opportunity to be in person with their peers alone? Are parents allowing their kids to practice making choices?   Are they learning the tools to be an independent part of the larger society? Some “letting go” questions to consider.

Well, I’m happy to report this 7th grade group pulled it off! One of my favorite parts of their hike was when the group decided to explore the Cedar Tree Circle.  I could see them and hear some of their conversations but they were on their own.  They laughed, played a game, and then one bold person said, “I think we should go back now.”   They all agreed and headed back to me.  Bravo! Little adults making their way in this maze of trails. 

Perhaps Spring is a great time to think about how often your are kids free. Practice letting go in a way you feel comfortable.  Happy Spring!