Adventure Parenting Risk Talking Point Why Adventure?

Risk and Adventure. No Risk, No Consequences, No Adventure?

Crossing Stepping Stones on Isle of Arran
Written by Stuart Wickes

No Risk, No Consequences, No Adventure?

Does adventure need risk? Out for a mountain walk on the Isle of Arran we came across some stepping stones. The kids realised they didn’t have to cross them; you can walk round them. As Hannah paused to decide what to do, the moment got me thinking about some fundamentals about risk and adventure…

Jumping Hay Bales, East Iceland

How much of a gap is there between risk and adventure?

Risk and adventure

“There’s a little bridge over there, or you can take the stepping stones,” I explain as we approach the edge of the stream.

It’s an unusually fine Scottish Spring day and our group of family and friends are straggled out along the heather strewn path that leads down from Corrie Lochan to the rocky West coast of the Isle of Arran.

“Can I take the bridge, like mum?” asks Hannah.

Kirstie’s already on the bridge; it sometimes seems she’s hard wired that way. But I don’t want the kids to blindly follow in her footsteps, not without considering the alternative. She probably feels the same way about me.

Stepping Stones

First steps can need courage

Stepping stones look more fun

I pause. “You could take the bridge. But the stepping stones look more fun.”

Hannah eyes up the water and the gaps between the stones. “But what if I fall in?”

I say nothing and let her weigh it up. She doesn’t need me to tell her the consequences.

Child Crossing Stepping Stones on Isle of Arran

Can she do it herself? I think so… she just needs to believe it.

Does she really need me?

“Can I hold your hand?” she finally asks, swatting a midge off her nose.

Of course she could. But I think she can manage it herself, without me.

“But what if I fall in?” I ask.

She giggles. I think she’d like that. It’s unlikely but not impossible; I might fall in, I might get wet. There’s risk and consequences. And that’s the point. Without that where’s the adventure?

But it’s HER choice…

But perhaps things look different with five year old legs, a mum on a bridge and little experience of stepping stones. Truth be told, the risks are different for Hannah. Falling in is possible, maybe even likely. But no-one ever died of wet feet. Did they?

The giggling subsides as Hannah hesitates on the edge. She looks over to mum, heading off down the hill, and takes a deep breath…..

Stepping Stones

No risk, no consequences, no sense of adventure. Helping kids take calculated risks is part of a parents job.

What do you think? Can you have an adventure without risk or consequences? Do you encourage your kids to take calculated risks? Or prefer to wrap them in cotton wool?

As an adventurous family we have written a lot about adventure over the years. For more on the subject check out these posts:

Kids need adventure – parents need to teach them how

10 reasons to stop being a cotton wool parent

Even if you think you can’t you probably can

About the author

Stuart Wickes

Stuart's the adventure addict half of the team, always trying to persuade the family to get out, do more, go further. As co-founder and co-director he handles the business, creative, design, technical and publishing aspects of the project. He is our chief photographer and videographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!


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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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