Today I had to work in the woods. It wasn't pleasant because of the wet weather. I also had one of the grand kids with me because he is 8 and wanted to go. With the grand kids on school vacation, I end up taking them to work with me as often as possible. My work vehicle is an Ford F-250 4X4 extended cab with a camper shell. It's a nice vehicle, gets around well in the woods, and holds lots of stuff.
I made sure that my hand held radio was is good working order and had it tuned to the correct channel and tone. I also let "my rescuer" know where I was going and when I expected to be out, just in case. After we left the paved road, I opened the locked gate, drove through and closed and locked the gate behind me. I was able to drive about a mile before I needed to engage the four wheel drive. That was a good sign since the road was along the edge of a meadow and lots of water was coming onto the road. Things were holding up well.
I was only able to drive another mile when I decided that we weren't driving any further. People often get into trouble when they drive where they shouldn't because they are relying too much on their four wheel drive and not on the stability of the road they are on. We got out and walked. We donned our rain gear; we already had our boots on. I was wearing heavy duty work boots. The boy was wearing knee high rubber farm boots. I was equipped with my radio, he with his whistle. He is allowed to go ahead of me as long as he can see me. He's also not allowed to venture too far off the road and has to stop when the road forks.
Before I left the office yesterday I took the quad map for where I was going to be today and blew up the couple of sections that we were going to be in. I used a rite-in-the-rain 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper so it would be useable in the bad weather. This way I can mark where we are and use a pencil to follow us as we go. There's space on the enlarged map to make notes on. I got out the quad map and tried to orient him to where we were. I showed my grandson the creeks, hill tops, and even the truck trail that we were on. He is to pick out landmarks. These can be rocks, trees, bird nests, etc. We mark them on the map.
The rain started coming down harder. After I worked for about an hour or so I decided it was time to turn around and head back to the truck. We walked back the same way we came in. Normally I would just cut straight through but I wanted to do some more map work.
I let the eight year old take the lead. I stopped him every few minutes to see if he knew where we were. We were trying to find his landmarks. At one point we came to a fork in the road. He couldn't remember which fork was the way to go. He was a little confused with the map. Remember, he's only 8. I let him figure out which way to go. He choose wrong. We walked about 10 minutes before he realized that we should have come to one of his mapped landmarks by then. He was not lost, but he was misplaced. We sat down on a rock and tried to figure out what went wrong. He couldn't quite figure it out so I had to step in and explain that he turned the wrong way at the fork.
I realize that the error was mine. We were using the map and the topography but I neglected to bring a compass with us. I didn't need it for this project. I did bring my GPS because I track everything that I do, but otherwise we didn't look at it. When we came to the fork, if he had a compass he would have perhaps been able to make the correct choice of which direction to take. We should have also observed some better landmarks.
The nice part was he didn't get panicky when he realized he didn't know where he was. I'm sure the main reason was because I was with him and he assumed that I'd get him out of there. Another reason was that he is not afraid of being out in the woods. That's important to teach not only kids but adults as well.