Unprepared – Lessons Learned From an Adventure Gone Wrong

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Whenever we set out on an adventure, we have one major goal in mind regardless of what we’re doing:

Make it be fun enough that we’ll want to do it again.

Sounds like a no brainer, right? Well when we’ve got all our kids in tow and they decide to voice their own little opinions, it’s not always a cake-walk.

This was a lesson we learned early on in our marriage.

When we were just newlyweds, we went on a kayaking adventure down Utah’s Muddy Creek. As we were unloading our car, we noticed some dads and a bunch of kids floating on the river on inflatables that could have only been purchased at Wal-mart. We’re talking character tubes, funky lounge chairs, you name it, they had it. We thought they were just out for a little morning water time. However, after gearing up and running our shuttle 2 hours later, we ran into them only ½ mile down the river. Inflatables had already popped, the water was cold, and one kid had already quit and walked back to the cars, and it was quickly apparent that they needed to stop before they entered the 13 mile long slot canyon that could only be exited at the bottom. Andrew informed them of the conditions and we were sure that they would realize that the should turn around.  Right?

Our day was awesome. We had some killer views, supreme silence, and an overall great experience. As we finally got to the bottom a little before sunset, we noticed a few cars down at the bottom. Soon, the oldest son of the families we had seen at the top came down and asked us if we’d seen their group. Um, no. We thought they had pulled out.


We could only imagine what was going on. These guys were fully unprepared and clearly had no idea what they were getting themselves into. They had no emergency supplies, only a few snacks, and certainly no flashlights to guide them through the night.

It was a horrible situation, because truthfully we couldn’t do anything to help them. They were stuck in that canyon, with all those kids and the water was flowing too fast to paddle upstream to attempt to help. We did the best we could and tracked down a search and rescue phone number for the worried women and told them that we’d follow up with them to see how things were going.

Well, the good news is that they all made it out completely freezing, at about 4 AM. The bad news is that none of the kids were even speaking with their fathers, and most of them had vowed to never go on another adventure with them AGAIN!

Wow, how about a wake up call! We were still in our pre-kid days (so obviously we knew EVERYTHING about parenting then) and swore that we would never let this happen to us. If we were going to take our kids with us on any adventure, we were going to be prepared and we would do our best to make sure that the kids ended the day with a smile on their faces.

It’s now been 10 years since that experience, and we’ve done A TON of adventures with our kids. We’ve climbed, backpacked, skied, camped, kayaked, biked, and traveled all over the world together (visiting 20+ countries together), yet I am often reminded of this day. I think we’ve got the hang of things for the most part. However, it still makes my skin crawl when I see parents who take their kids on adventures without really thinking about what they entail.

What do you do to make sure you are prepared when you go out on adventures?  We’ll be talking more about this one soon and the rule of thumb that we try to follow!

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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