Hiking at Dusk Without a Tent: As Told By my Teenager...

" I am going hiking In the Appalachia's Jenna" _ Said my Teenager Bryce, the 18 year old.

"Cool" I said, and that was about it.

Yesterday, as we discuss the ever hysterical and life lessons trip to the mountains for my very grown up 18 year old brother son, I couldn't help but immediately think of how this lesson applies. to. everyone.

On their (Bryce & two of his friends) very first hiking trip (as they decided this is their new hobby) they planned it to just be a day trip, lasting for about 5 hours.

They originally wanted to start in the morning, but got lost, had trouble checking into the hotel, and ended up not even starting on the trail until 4PM.

Now, an experienced hiker into the mountains would have brought a tent, maybe some blankets, hey... call me crazy... a flashlight?

Not so much for these 18 year olds.

They brought backpacks. Clothes on their back. One measly blanket. Powerade (which they later warmed up and pretended was "hot chocolate"). Snacks. and a Lighter.

You can probably predict what happened next...  it got dark (shocker). and they were stuck at the top of the mountain in the middle of December.

With no one, and nothing around, in the pitch black, they decided to make a fire.

They made a tiny little shelter out of sticks & the measly small blanket.

And they took turns sitting up in shifts listening to the coyotes & "making weapons" (which apparently were slingshots & pointy sticks).

And they spent the entire night, out in the freezing cold, on top of a mountain... on top of a fire. 


And I am obsessed.


He told me how the other kids the whole time were saying "my parents are going to kill me, I am dead when they find out we did this".

And he said... "Mine are just going to say Im an idiot for not bringing a tent."

Because who goes on a 5 hour hike 2 hours before dusk.. and doesn't bring a tent?


But this why I LOVE parenting these teenagers.

Moments where we get to be the "weirdo & different parents who are only 10 years older".

Because we have perspective. Perspective to remember what it's like to be 18. Remember what hurt that our parents said, and even how much more it hurt the things they DIDNT say.


My first words were "well I would rather you have had this experience at 18, learning to survive with what you have in the wilderness, rather than going on senior trip getting wasted in South Carolina like all of your classmates did (and we did when we were 18)."

Because what type of lesson did I bring back with me from senior trip? uh.... don't drink beer before liquor? Super classy.

What type of lesson did my little backpacker come back with?

Don't go hiking at dusk without a tent.


And how often does that life lesson apply to us in every season as adults?!

Hiking without a tent.

Birth without a birth plan.

Children without finances.

Marriage without Commitment.

Teenagers without Family Values.


All things that just don't compute as "smart" in our society.

And things that need to have some type of "plan" to be successful and life giving.

Which is so true to an extent. But also hard to "master" the first time around.

Sure, we have had the time of our life figuring out having two teens and a toddler without making tons of money & opening two businesses.... But lets just say we know a bit better now why people say "I want to be financially secure before having children"

And of course, just like everyone else, when we got married & were undeniably in love with each other we vowed to "never make another sleep on the couch"... and even though we haven't done that in reality... we've done it on our hearts plenty of times.

And just like with birth. I had a "birth plan" for the hospital (that completely did not happen), but no real PLAN for after birth. What would my support look like, what would it look like for me to take care of myself, how would I manage two teens & a baby? Because no one told me about an "after birth plan!"


Because I/ We went to a knife fight without the knife.

I went hiking at dusk without a tent.


not every time.

But we do it, all the time.

Because that is life.

It's just how it goes.


And you know what?

We are SO much better for it.

Not that you cant plan, and that you shouldn't be financially secure before kids, or have big fights before marriage that you work through, or set up a good birth plan... because you should, and these things are good.


But you know what I'm proud of Bryce for?

That he did it.

He went anyways.

And yes, he's kind of an idiot for not taking a tent.

But also... he stayed up all night making "weapons", tending to a fire, and thinking about "how long the night is" while he did it.

And those things are awesome.

And character building.

Man building.

And I just love that he had this experience when he was 18.

And in the morning.. they hiked up to the top of the peak... and saw the sunrise.

A Sunrise that was much more appreciated after a night in the dark, cold, and fending for themselves.

We can spend our lives.. living in fear, waiting for what to plan next, making sure we have our tent & gear ready to go... or sometimes we can just hop on the crazy train.

The train to start a non -profit when you have no degree trusting that God will guide you along the way.

The train to have your third kid even though you think you're going to go crazy with two on most days.

The train of marriage counseling even though it's the last thing that you "feel" like doing.

Because... at least in my experience... the crazy train, the one that has to have a little faith involved... that is the train that grows you. The one that gives you hilarious, scary, and amazing life experiences to share with your kids. The one that gives you something to look back on and say "God showed up there", and the one that shapes your character.

Oh life, and the way mine is shaped through the eyes of my kiddos.

Grateful that he felt the freedom to have that experience.

And knowing that he's all the better for it.

But next time kid, take a tent. ;)