Safety not guaranteed…
Jonathan Last has written a marvelous article about taking his young son to Yellowstone National Park. Every parent should be required to read it, but especially the helicopter parents. You all know some, ever present, ever ready to interfere if their little darlings are at risk of getting a boo-boo.
I grew up on a farm, and was taught early and often that actions have consequences and that you are responsible for keeping your brain in gear and reacting appropriately to your circumstances. I was taught how to behave around horses and cattle and farm equipment. I learned which snakes were poisonous, how to recognize rabid animals, and what the proper courses of action were when confronted by them. My parents kept an eye on me, but generally with such subtlety that I was unaware. Of course, my father thought that at age eight I was perfectly capable of riding several miles of fence line on my very large horse with only my faithful dog accompanying us. He was correct, but some government ninny would probably try to charge him with child endangerment or neglect in this day and age.
The lessons I learned about the natural world as a child carried over into adulthood, and have kept me safe all over the world, including Yellowstone itself. ear spray wasn’t available when I visited, but I did have a stout oak hiking staff which would have proved as useful in fending off bears as it did an annoyed rattler the group ahead of me on the trail had stupidly messed with.
Take all your children to Yellowstone for the beauty and the education. Or take them to one of the nation’s many national parks and forests. Or just to a local park, if it still allows swings and has a little pond to muddy your feet with. Humans are basically advanced chimpanzees, so if your children learn to navigate the natural world they’ll have a good start on finding their path through the pitfalls of the human world.