Drew got his birthday wish. We allowed the boys to go 24 hours in the woods alone without food, water, and shelter. They left at 6:00 pm. We had one requirement... we would be allowed to check in on them whenever we wanted. They had one requirement... no one was allowed to scare them. They had a loaded pellet gun, machete, and frog gig to ward off any surprise attacks. We checked on them about 9:00 pm. They had their shelter built, frogs gigged, crawdads caught, and were beginning to build their fire. Grandpa Randy gave them a few pointers on flint but they finally gave up on flint and used their mosquito repellent for fire starter.
It was all fun and giggles until I got into bed that night. I was cold so I couldn't imagine how they felt. I took each weapon they had with them and began imagining what damage each one could do. I thought about how dark it was getting for them. We had dined on Gram's ham and poppyseed sandwiches and mac and cheese and all they had was woods fare. What if their flashlights went out? What if they were scared but too proud to admit it? What if the fire got out of control and caught their shelter on fire? Finally, at 3:00 am, I heard the shower. I peeked out my bedroom and I saw them grinning and shivering. They came in for hot showers and warm beds. They had gotten so cold that they had tried warming rocks in the fire and then laying on them. I fixed them a big plate of leftovers, which they scarfed down, and tucked them into their beds. And then I finally went to sleep.
Uncle Greg showed up after the boys were gone to show us a trail cam picture that he thought we might be interested in. It wasn't very far away from the boys' campsite. We didn't tell them until they got back in the morning. I wasn't too worried about the bear, I figured they were shouting and rattling the brush enough that it was long gone.