18 Skills Every Kid Should Know, According to the World’s Greatest Adventurers

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18 Skills Every Kid Should Know, According to the World's Greatest Adventurers

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Starting when ultrarunner Katie Arnold’s daughters were babies, she and her husband began taking them on wilderness river rafting trips with other families. During the safety talk, before putting the rafts into the water, she always took a moment to clarify that this was the wilderness, not a jungle gym where an accident was as simple as a quick trip to urgent care. She’d tell her girls and the other children, “We need you to take care of your own bodies and each other.”

Arnold, who is also a writer, chose the wording for her directive carefully. “It’s teaching them the autonomy and personal responsibility of looking after themselves, while also having that collective mindset that you always need on expeditions — and also in real life — which is that we also need to look out for each other. Because if something happens to one of us, it happens to all of us.”

Now that her girls have entered adolescence, and are seriously into skiing (both are part of the ski team at their local resort), Arnold’s employed the directive, “Ski in your body.” In other words, “Don’t be in your brain thinking, ‘Who’s going to love this when I try to attempt this 360? Who’s going to see this tail grab?’ Ski in your body. If it’s your body saying, ‘Yeah I want to do this,’ then do it,” Arnold explains.

Something the directive does not say is “be careful.” Which is also intentional on Arnold’s part. “There’s this gender bias where we tell girls to be safe and boys to go for it,” says Arnold, “and I didn’t want to be perpetuating that.” Arnold adopted the directive from her own mantra as a professional runner, “Run in your body.” “It’s a more evolved version of, ‘Take care of your bodies and each other,’” she says. “But it’s the same message to stay in your body, be aware of it. And act accordingly. And I think you can apply that to anything.”

Katie Arnold is professional ultrarunner who’s won many of America’s most elite races including the Leadville Trail 100, TransRockies, and the Angel Fire 100. She is also an award-winning freelance writer and contributing editor at Outside magazine, where her column “Raising Rippers,” about bringing up adventurous kids, ran from 2011 to 2019. Arnold’s memoir Running Home (Random House, 2019) recounts the healing powers of long-distance running in the wake of her father’s death.

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