Risk and adventure. No risk, no consequences, no adventure?

Stepping Stones on Arran Stepping Stones on Arran
Stepping Stones on Arran Stepping Stones on Arran
Stepping Stones on Arran Stepping Stones on Arran

IMG 0138 Risk and adventure. No risk, no consequences, no adventure?

A pause for thought… should I go over or walk around?

No risk, no consequences, no adventure?

Stuart Profile Small Risk and adventure. No risk, no consequences, no adventure?Out for a mountain walk on the Isle of Arran we come across some stepping stones. But you don’t have to cross them; you can walk round them. As Hannah pauses to decide what to do, the moment gets me thinking about some fundamentals about 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 heathery 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 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.

IMG 0140 Risk and adventure. No risk, no consequences, no adventure?

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…..

IMG 01411 Risk and adventure. No risk, no consequences, no adventure?

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

Talking Point

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?

Join the Conversation

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Talking Point is our series of short posts where we pick a photo or short story, pose a talking point and invite you to join the conversation. Do leave a comment with your thoughts.




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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 and is our chief photographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!

23 Responses to “Risk and adventure. No risk, no consequences, no adventure?” Subscribe

  1. Suzy November 4, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    very interesting post. thanks for sharing.

  2. Stuart (Family Adventure Project) November 4, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    Thanks Suzy. Enjoyed your picture of protoplasm too. I love those thought provoking things in public spaces.

  3. kerry dexter November 4, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    grest story and just the right photos too. thanks!

  4. Kirstie (Family Adventure Project) November 4, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Thanks @Kerry. Bet you could suggest a suitable Scottish soundtrack??

  5. Becca @ R We There Yet Mom? November 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    I love this story!! You are so right to challenge your kiddos to think out of the box and take risks!!!!

    Thanks for linking up this am!


  6. Kirstie (Family Adventure Project) November 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Thanks @Becca Kids and parents often have quite different views of risk. Come to think of it so do parents, which is another challenge altogether. Thanks to you for hosting the link circle.

  7. Lisa November 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Way to go Hannah! I love that you were able to capture that moment in a photo.

  8. Kirstie (Family Adventure Project) November 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Thanks @Lisa. A bit of sports action mode and a little luck helped capture that moment. I love the way her foot is still in the air leaving the outcome a little unclear… did she make it or did she get wet?

  9. Steve November 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Aren’t you supposed to be holding her hand?
    Love the story though, and a great picture too.

  10. wandering educators November 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    oh i LOVE this!! brave girl!!

  11. Stuart (Family Adventure Project) November 4, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    @Steve What hold her hand instead of taking a photo??? I like the fact you have more kids than suitcases. We generally travel with more luggage than children!

  12. Thomas Arbs November 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    This has been an ongoing discussion over at familyonbikes, what avoiding every and all risk means for the kids. I am not a very courageous dad myself, but agree that a little risk now and then is an absolute must. And yes, lovely set of pictures!

  13. Stuart (Family Adventure Project) November 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    @Thomas Arbs It’s a discussion in many, many circles! Kirstie and I regularly ‘discuss’ it ;-) and often have different feelings and perceptions of the risks of an activity or situation.

    I think there’s an important skill for parents here in becoming good at objectively assessing risks for themselves and their kids, articulating, testing and challenging their own perceptions of risk, understanding what the differences between risk, hazard and consequences are. And being able to talk about that together. It can take courage to have that debate! And I bet you are probably more courageous than you know. Thanks for commenting.

  14. Sonja November 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    I like the narrative with your pics. Thanks!

  15. Jessica November 5, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    Good for her! That was a great story!

  16. Kirstie (Family Adventure Project) November 5, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Thanks @Sonja @Jessica @wandering educators for taking the time to comment.

  17. Stephanie November 6, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    Great story. I was so afraid of everything as a kid (and still many things as an adult). But my husband is adventurous and we’re encouraging our Muffin to take some of the risks I was afraid of when I was younger. I don’t want her to be a ‘fraidy cat like me.

  18. Stuart (Family Adventure Project) November 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    @Stephanie Childhood patterns can run deep eh?! The tension between one more adventurous and one more conservative parent is one we know well! But the counterbalance is useful. And sometimes it makes the utmost sense to be a fraidy cat too.

  19. Lela May 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    I’m taking my daughter to rural Ghana in less that two weeks so this has been weighing heavily on my mind! I do think you have to give them experiences like this so they can handle the bigger ones when they come along.



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