'He said his feet were a little tired and he wanted a drink.'
June 25, 2019 10:14 AM   Subscribe

 
Interesting read. I spent a few days urbex 'camping' in some ruins when I was 15 and I was absolutely terrified out of my mind; I definitely don't think I would have done as well at six as he did. But then, I didn't grow up in a military family on a ranch with no TV, so there's that.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:39 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


The one lesson I've always been told is to remain calm and not panic. Running in a panic is how you make a mistake or hurt yourself because you're not thinking clearly.

Based on his recollections of that time when he was missing, he stayed focused and calm. He had a goal and he was thinking about that goal and it seems like that kept him from otherwise getting into a panic where he might hurt himself or make a dangerous decision.

So many things could have gone wrong. Good on him for surviving.
posted by Fizz at 10:40 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]


...his sister became annoyed with him for getting lost and disrupting the family’s plans for the evening. She’s a rancher now, with kids of her own. I ask her if she was scared for her brother that day back in 1986. “No,” she says, matter-of-factly. “Kids don’t get scared.”

I am clutched with envy at the thought of the kind of childhood that produces an adult who says “kids don’t get scared.” I’m sure that level of security and consistency had something to do with Cody’s pragmatic outlook.
posted by corey flood at 11:05 AM on June 25 [32 favorites]


And yet his strength seems not unconnected with a certain lack of focus on the feelings of others. He chose the route out which met his emotional needs, not those of his family.

That's not a knock against him: people's strengths and weaknesses are usually the same thing. It's good and important that there are people who can do this sort of thing. It's also good and important that there are a lot of people who can't.
posted by howfar at 11:06 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Running in a panic is how you make a mistake or hurt yourself because you're not thinking clearly.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:09 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]


And yet his strength seems not unconnected with a certain lack of focus on the feelings of others. He chose the route out which met his emotional needs, not those of his family.

those probably would have been quite well aligned had 6 y/o kidlogic not been getting in the way.

this is a great story but it doesn't really surprise me that, with some decent luck, he kept his shit together and survived. kids are amazingly capable and resilient. I know, I know. none of us want to throw our own kids to the wolves coyotes. but as parents we so often borrow against their strength and growth potential to quell our own anxieties.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:17 AM on June 25 [10 favorites]


And yet his strength seems not unconnected with a certain lack of focus on the feelings of others. He chose the route out which met his emotional needs, not those of his family.

in other words, he was a typical six-year-old.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:22 AM on June 25 [32 favorites]


Kids can be incredibly resilient and tough.

Apparently at the ages of 2-3 I had a habit of wandering out of the house in the middle of the night or crack of dawn and just happily trucking it towards the beach several miles away in my PJs and dragging a blanket. (My poor mom, heh.)

My dad used to take my brother and I on some pretty rugged hikes as young as 8-10 or so, including some 20+ mile day hikes and bagging local peaks well above treeline in the 10-12k foot range, like San Gregonio. While I remember being like "ok, this is crazy rugged and kind of hard" more than once, we handled it better than the adults even with carrying our own day packs and water and stuff.

I remember one peak we ended the hike back at the trailhead and parking area running/skipping down the road - and as I recall, I remember we were just happily running/skipping because we knew there was more food at the car, especially chocolate and more trail mix which we were allowed ever so much of on a hike - while the adults were just like "Really? You guys still have that kind of energy after all of that? WTF?" and totally wiped out and slogging along.

I also had a lot of free reign growing up and remember casually walking or biking distances that would wipe me out today. It wasn't uncommon for us to have 30+ mile days just biking all over a big suburban city going from friend's house to friend's house and one park to another park, specifically just to go BMXing and riding even more energetically in said parks all day long. And, say, launching ourselves too high in the air, and crashing a lot on top of all the roaming around.

And, oh man, did we ever go places we shouldn't have been going. We used to explore storm drains and even go skateboarding in them. There were bunkers and even abandoned buildings. Railroad tracks, too. Nooks and crannies of industrial areas. I remember getting up on roofs of malls and shopping centers as a pre-teen kid with other kids and just going basically everywhere we could. Or that weird kid's house with the older brother with all the firecrackers and the skateboard ramp in the back yard and way too little parental supervision. I once watched one kid blow up most of an abandoned rusty shell of an old in a field with some alarmingly large imported fireworks.

I swear, if our parents knew half the stuff we'd get up to roaming around they would have made us stay home to play more video games.
posted by loquacious at 11:22 AM on June 25 [24 favorites]


Math time.

The formula for the area of a circle is pi*r^2 where pi = 3.14 and r is the radius. Knowing how smart the average mefite is, I type this not to talk down but to remind and emphasize.

Imagine v being the velocity of a lost person. Moreover assume that a person is traveling in roughly a straight line, a not silly assumption depending on geography and the person's inclination. Knowing that velocity multiplied by time gives us length we can then proceed to visualize why moving is such a big deal when survival situations like this are encountered.

Say someone's been lost for a half hour or less and can travel at 3 miles an hour. That means you have to search an area of about 6 square miles.

In an hour that goes up, such that the area that has to be searched is a circle of 28 square miles.

In an hour and a half you're at about 63 square miles, roughly the area of Washington, DC.

In three hours you're up to 254 square miles.

In six hours (which is the 18 mile radius based upon our assumption of 3mph above), 1017 square miles, that's almost a Rhode Island to search.

I just wanted to do the math and figured I'd bring y'all along for the ride. This person was lucky and I'm not judging but I am certain that a couple dozen people on foot, horseback, and cars aren't able to help when someone lost keeps moving.

"Hug a tree" indeed. I'll be reminding my 5 year old of that today, that's for sure.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:23 AM on June 25 [16 favorites]


Deep Survival (a very interesting book) has it that ages 6-11 gives the best chance of survival. More physical reserves than younger kids and less ego than older people. Less likelihood of sticking to a plan as it's going wrong, and more willingness to take shelter and rest as needed.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 11:40 AM on June 25 [20 favorites]


I rarely do this, but:

MetaFilter: Running in a panic is how you make a mistake or hurt yourself because you're not thinking clearly.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:47 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]


Children are as fit as endurance athletes

Researchers discover how young children seem to run around all day without getting tired: their muscles resist fatigue and recover in the same way as elite endurance athletes. The study, which compared energy output and post-exercise recovery rates of young boys, untrained adults and endurance athletes, can be used to develop athletic potential in children and improve our knowledge of how disease risk, such as diabetes, increases as our bodies change from childhood to adulthood.
posted by jamjam at 11:58 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


I love this story. Mostly because I remember rural childhood romantically, as something free and fun. I also love that Cody still sleeps out.
When I was a kid in the sixties in rural Yorkshire, I went for a charity walk (a thing where your sponsors pledge an amount pr. mile you walk), I remember the walk well, because I had a great time, but it's my parents who remember that all the relatives were shocked at the amounts they had to deliver on because they had underestimated a 7-year old's stamina.
Then, after returning to Denmark and the big city, I became a cub scout, and we went out for the 10 km walk the same day as the big scouts did the 50 km walk. My friend Mini (an other transplant) and I decided we might as well take the long route, but at that point, we must have been 10. So that's nothing compared to Cody.
My cousin once walked away on a whim when he was six, and turned up many miles away in a butcher's shop, demanding meatballs. It was just a lovely family joke, the police were never called.
The same cousin and I were only a little older, when we, determined to save our family and very much inspired by Emil of Lonnaberga, went through a snow storm for 2 miles out and 2 miles back to buy groceries. The distance wasn't great but the snow was -- even the snow ploughs couldn't get out. I guess parents were different in the old days. They gave us the money and called the grocery store owner so he would let us in after opening hours (obviously he lived on top of the store). I remember we were a bit miffed that he didn't give us a sweet for the trip back, but I suppose it's just another sign that this was seen as totally normal and what any kid would do in a snow storm in the country.
posted by mumimor at 12:02 PM on June 25 [8 favorites]


“O.K.,” said Mrs. Snell. “I hear Lionel’s supposeta be runnin’ away.” She gave a short laugh.

“Certainly looks that way,” Boo Boo said, and slid her hands into her hip pockets.

“At least he don’t run very far away,” Mrs. Snell said, giving another short laugh.

At the window, Boo Boo changed her position slightly, so that her back wasn’t directly to the two women at the table. “No,” she said, and pushed back some hair behind her ear. She added, purely informatively: “He’s been hitting the road regularly since he was two. But never very hard. I think the farthest he ever got -- in the city, at least – was to the Mall in Central Park. Just a couple of blocks from home. The least far -- or nearest -- he ever got was to the front door of our building. He stuck around to say goodbye to his father.”
posted by thursdaystoo at 12:07 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Sounds like Henry the Explorer to me.
posted by chavenet at 12:47 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


people's strengths and weaknesses are usually the same thing.

Huh. I'm probably going to be thinking on this phrase for a while. That's a really interesting observation.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:50 PM on June 25 [9 favorites]


There have been a number of cases of children missing in parks or forests where they are later found miles and miles away. This has spurred a whole industry of paranormal/cryptozoology explanations because it's hard to believe that a 6 year old can walk 10+ miles under their own power. Yes, it is apparently easier to believe that they are being abducted by Bigfoot.
posted by muddgirl at 1:13 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


…people's strengths and weaknesses are usually the same thing.

Interviewer: Tell me, what’s your biggest weakness?

Interviewee: My honesty.

Interviewer: I don’t think that’s a weakness.

Interviewee: I don’t give a fuck what you think.
posted by TedW at 1:32 PM on June 25 [48 favorites]


Perhaps a bear helped him?
posted by TedW at 1:39 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I can't seem to find the post, but there was a metafilter post a few years ago about articles that were being purged from wikipedia, and one of them was about the monument for a little boy, 5 or 6, who had gotten lost gathering wood for school. They eventually found his body on top of the local mountain, and as I recall part of the reason they didn't find him until long after he died was that no one thought he would be that far.
posted by tavella at 2:11 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


I can't find the post either, but it was this monument in Virginia for a boy who went missing from his school in autumn 1891. His remains were found the following spring atop Bluff Mountain seven miles away.

The Lonesome Death of Ottie Cline Powell
posted by theory at 2:47 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


Math time.

The formula for the area of a circle is pi*r^2 where pi = 3.14 and r is the radius. Knowing how smart the average mefite is, I type this not to talk down but to remind and emphasize.

Imagine v being the velocity of a lost person. Moreover assume that a person is traveling in roughly a straight line, a not silly assumption depending on geography and the person's inclination. Knowing that velocity multiplied by time gives us length we can then proceed to visualize why moving is such a big deal ...


Somehow I can only hear this in Tommy Lee Jones’ voice. Can we add a bit about a hard target search of every farmhouse, henhouse, doghouse and outhouse in this radius?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:49 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]


There have been a number of cases of children missing in parks or forests where they are later found miles and miles away. This has spurred a whole industry of paranormal/cryptozoology explanations because it's hard to believe that a 6 year old can walk 10+ miles under their own power. Yes, it is apparently easier to believe that they are being abducted by Bigfoot.

Option C: Some kids are actually Bigfoots. Bigfeets. Samsquanch. Whatever.
posted by loquacious at 3:43 PM on June 25 [7 favorites]


As Mark Rosewater (lead designer of Magic the Gathering) says, your greatest weakness is your greatest strength pushed too far.
posted by PennD at 7:57 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


The road is surely a big factor here. It stops you circling ineffectively and directs your energy into getting the maximum distance, but it’s also a constant prompt. When you don’t know what to do, there’s the road, saying ‘why not walk some more’.

I’m sort of impressed and jealous at the way this seems to have been generally interpreted. The kid is praised and commended for his hardihood in saving himself, but in fact it looks to me as if he got himself into needless trouble and persisted in making things worse for some time. On the occasions I got lost for more than an hour when I was a kid, all I got for finding my way to help was a furious three-hour denunciation from my mother.
posted by Segundus at 11:14 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


I love how his sister's reaction was to be annoyed with him for messing up their plans. I was the same age as her in 1986 (though my brother was 7) and I would've totally sympathized (stupid brothers!). But I don't think I would've been scared for him either. I was a free range kid too and we were great problem solvers. My neighbourhood had lots of cliffs and we were very matter of fact about where was safe to climb and which bits were notoriously difficult. We had kind of communal rules for dealing with things. If you struggled, kids would talk you through it. Thinking about most of the adults I spend time with now, I think we were a lot more practical and sensible. Maybe it is the stamina of children. Things seem more possible when you're not always tired.
posted by kitten magic at 3:33 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


I'm in decent shape, but my 9-year-old daughter can already sometimes out-last me on a full day of cycling. Kids are tough!

Also, this reminded me of the story that dominated the news in Japan last summer: a 2-year-old boy was found in local wilderness near his town after disappearing for 3 days when trying to walk home by himself. It was August, so 80s-90s outside. Lucky they found him!
posted by p3t3 at 4:19 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


Children are as fit as endurance athletes
Researchers discover how young children seem to run around all day without getting tired: their muscles resist fatigue and recover in the same way as elite endurance athletes.
They might be as fit as endurance athletes but by god I bet the athletes don't whine about being tired anywhere near as much.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:13 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


That article was good and lead me to another: https://www.outsideonline.com/2164446/leave-no-trace

Had no idea so many people went missing in such mundane ways. I sometimes forget that nature itself is plenty deadly and still damn near impossible to find anything specific out in the wilds. MY general plan for getting lost is to mark the hell out of everything. Slash trees, arrange rocks, scrape the earth, stab leafs onto branches, use a rock to wind a piece of string around, anything! They will find me by the trail of my mess.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:35 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


p3t3, the story about the Japanese boy is really interesting, because they talk about how an elderly volunteer found him 30 minutes after he arrived on the scene -- because he had previous experience and knew that very tiny children sometimes counter-intuitively climb upwards when lost, so he went up an old path on the mountain side while everyone else was dragging the rice ponds and looking downhill. That's exactly what happened to 4-year old Ottie Powell, unfortunately without the experienced volunteer.
posted by tavella at 11:57 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


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