In 2005, two boys around the same age as my son at the time and from a town we had lived in just a decade before, died while on a school outing. The search for them was on the news for days. I was captivated. Being in Indiana at the time, I wasn't part of the local conversations, but i just didn't (and still don't) understand the lack of accountability by the trip's leader. For years after this happened, this man led dozens of school expeditions as though nothing had happened.
Over the next few years in a quest to do something - anything - I learned a lot about the outdoor recreation industry. It doesn't like rules and regulations. It is full of free spirits and nature lovers and individualists. I respect and appreciate people with these philosophies about life; I was of the Libertarian persuasion for years. Until I realized. We need rules in this country. We just do. Especially when they save lives. And especially when they involve children. Had there been the most basic of regulations around equipment and licensing qualifications, two boys with overwhelming potential might have survived this trip leader's lack of preparation and deadly decisions.
In 2011, I was lucky enough to see my son graduate from college, but I'm ashamed to say that it was also the last time I worked on this for Clay and Sean. Too many years have passed. I vow to work on this again.