How far did you roam?

Topics and issues of interest to cavers which are not related to caving. No political or religious discussions, please.

Moderator: Moderators

Postby Todd » Jun 20, 2007 12:16 am

I was a roamer too... One day in kindergarten I decided that I didn't want to be there, so I snuck out and walked a mile or two back to my house, remembering the way from the bus ride. When I was older I road my bike all over the place and thought it was weird that most of my friends weren't allowed out of their neighborhoods. I'd ride over to their houses, but if they wanted to come to my house their parents would have to load their bike in the car and drive them! Most of the time I could beat them across town (less than 5 miles usually) since I knew all the short cuts through woods, back yards, and parking lots and didn't have to wait for stoplights.
Frequent Poster
Posts: 55
Joined: Apr 6, 2006 11:05 am
Location: Virginia
NSS #: 48351

Postby Wayne Harrison » Jun 20, 2007 5:53 am

I grew up from the mid-50s to mid-60s at a time when -- as they said on "The Wonder Years"... "A kid could walk alone and not have to worry about ending up on the side of a milk carton..."

I wandered far and wide on my bike, too. I rode for miles in every direction -- sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend. Once we planned a 25-mile roundtrip excursion down to the nearest airport, just to see the planes. We didn't take water, or snacks. Back then, the schools in Dallas left their water running on the outside fountains so all we had to do was find a school for water.

If I really wanted to impress the neighbors, I'd take a clothespin and a playing card and clothespin the card to the back spokes so it with flutter when I rode... sort of sounding like a motocycle.

When I was in the first and second grade, in a small Texas town, my friends and I would walk the 20 blocks to downtown to watch the Saturday movies. The only warning we ever got from our parents was "Just be home by dinner."
User avatar
Wayne Harrison
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 2382
Joined: Aug 30, 2005 5:29 pm
Location: Pine, Colorado
NSS #: 18689 FE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: unaffiliated

Postby JoeyS » Jun 20, 2007 8:42 am

I came along in the 80's, with the rise of the Nintendo generation. I hated going over to a friends house only to find 2 or 3 kids huddled around a 19 inch TV playing legends of zelda, etc.. Used to make me really mad. I would just leave and roam the woods alone on those days. Too bad there were no caves in Baldwin County, AL because I sure woulda found em all!
Joey Stuckey
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 402
Joined: Aug 8, 2006 11:22 am
Location: Middle Tennessee
NSS #: 57719
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Nashville Grotto

Postby hunter » Jun 20, 2007 10:06 am

I grew up in a smallish town divided by canyons and my friends, brothers and I spent most of our time wandering and playing in the canyons. The best was to watch floods come through after a good rainstorm. On weekends we'd tell my parents we were going out back, pack up our gear and go camp a few miles up into the mountains. On average I probably didn't roam more than 10 miles from town, being in a mountainous area biking far was as hard as walking.

Since tallgirl brought it up, this mostly happened in the 90s. Rare as it might be there are still a few of us out here with cool parents that didn't worry and let us roam (although my relatives were always worried).


P.S. Tallgirl, I know this is a sport dominated by crusty old geasers (no offense intended guys) but why keep bringing it up? If it's a problem teach people your age to cave and start finding things on your own, that's what I did.
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 395
Joined: Sep 9, 2005 9:47 am
Location: New Mexico

Postby MUD » Jun 20, 2007 11:18 am

I grew up in the mountains of central PA and have roamed as long as I can remember. My freinds and I rode our bikes, motorcycles and walked in the woods forever it seemed. As long as I was home when appointed I could go about anywhere. Of course, mom didn't know half the places I was! :hairpull: That's how I found my first cave at age eight...roamin'!

As far as today's kids....don't blame video games on them...blame it on their parents! I have four children and none of mine play video games! I buy my kids bikes and books....let 'em roam that way! I still roam constantly and often my kids are with me....not because I make them but because they want to. I guess they see how much I like it! :waving:
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 1242
Joined: Mar 15, 2006 11:28 pm
Primary Grotto Affiliation: None

Postby Wayne Harrison » Jun 20, 2007 2:02 pm

Related story from yesterday:

Getting Lost in the Great Indoors
Many Adults Worry Nature Is Disappearing From Children's Lives

By Donna St. George
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 19, 2007; Page A01

Linda Pelzman appreciates the beauty of the outdoor world, sometimes pulling her children into the yard to gaze at a full moon or peer into a dense fog. An educator and founder of a summer camp, she only wishes her enthusiasm was fully shared.

On a recent nature walk near her home in Gaithersburg, her younger son, 6, was unimpressed, pleading, "I just want to go back to civilization." Her older son, at 13, has made it clear he prefers PlayStation.

<a href="">Click to read full story</a>
User avatar
Wayne Harrison
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 2382
Joined: Aug 30, 2005 5:29 pm
Location: Pine, Colorado
NSS #: 18689 FE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: unaffiliated

Postby Phil Winkler » Jun 20, 2007 2:28 pm

In the 50s and 60s we lived in South Jersey and the on the Chesapeake Bay. In Jersey we would ride our bikes a couple of miles to the dump where we would search for parts to make carts & buggies just like we saw on TV in the Our Gang/Little Rascals series. We had to be home when the street lights came on. Everybody did the same thing, too. The neighborhood was filled with kids and getting a football or baseball game together with two full teams was easy.

In Maryland we'd wander far and wide in small boats or canoes (no life preservers either). A friend and I once ice skated on the frozen Sassafras River almost 8 miles towards the Bay before cracking ice and open water stopped us.

I'm often thankful I'm still alive.
Phil Winkler
13627 FE
User avatar
Phil Winkler
Global Moderator
Posts: 2375
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 8:48 am
Location: Wilmington, DE and Dewey Beach
NSS #: 13627FE

Postby Dane » Jun 20, 2007 9:04 pm

Hey! Don't discount us crusty old geezers!!!!
I may be old enough to be TG's dad, but that doesn't mean I am ready to be put out to pasture!

Matter of fact, most of the people I hang with are my kids' age or only slightly older - TallGirl's age in fact.
I'm not denying my age (like I could!) or trying to "act young" - it just so happens that where I like to hang out, the music I like to listen to, the things I like to do are all dominated by younger people than my generational peers.
I don't have anything to prove. I'm not looking for some young chick to hang out with. I'm not hiding from reality.
I'm just doing what I like and trying to have fun.
Maybe I am just a late bloomer!:egyptian:

In this thread however, I think generational issues are certainly pertinent. There are exceptions, as stated above, but it is obvious that the "average roam radius" is falling for each subsequent generation, and while it may not be unexpected, it is interesting.
Several explanations have been put forth, but the data is hard to argue with regardless of the reason.

No, TG can dog me (and my peers) all she wants. I wouldn't have it any other way. It's a small price to pay to be with the "cool" crowd!!!!
"Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed."
User avatar
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 576
Joined: Oct 22, 2006 11:02 pm
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Name: Dane
NSS #: 57919
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Chattanooga

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jul 1, 2007 1:12 pm

I've roamed when I was kid and probably no farther than 3-5 miles. A lot of that was in the woods. When I lived in the city the radius was the same and even much wider if I had bus-fare.
Roaming is a good thing. But as Wayne pointed out it was indeed a hellva lot safer then than it is now. Sad don't you think?
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner
User avatar
Ralph E. Powers
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 2101
Joined: Sep 10, 2005 5:48 pm
Location: Chattanooga, TN
NSS #: 37616

Postby Teresa » Jul 2, 2007 7:44 am

I think it all started with the skin cancer scare, in which suntan lotion and hat companies decided the sun was bad for you.

I disagree with those who think it is more 'dangerous' out there for kids today than in days gone by. I'll go with traffic is heavier, and there are more people, but that's about it. But there seem to be fewer people outside, (adults included) more houses closed up (air conditioning) and more social disapproval, fear and suspicion of people walking around...this is even true when I walk around the block just to get out of the house-- folks wonder why I'm not in my house like I'm 'supposed' to be.

The overwhelming majority of kidnappings/child abuse are not by strangers, but by acquaintances/relatives. There were weirdos hanging out in the 1950s/60s-- but there were also more stay at home moms keeping half an eye on your whereabouts (not just your own). Kids also tended to travel in gangs of at least two or three...there is an inherent security in that...some nefarious person who might prey on a solitary child, usually thinks twice about if there are witnesses.

It's the paranoia of the parents from watching too much TV, and increased media coverage of everything that makes it seem to be more dangerous today. And the tendency to overschedule kids because the parents are prosperous enough to afford to do so-- many of them, including my relatives, are in ball,sports, dance, scouts, summer school, etc., to such an extent they don't have time to be kids.

The tendency of families to have fewer kids cause parents to be more protective and coddling of them-- when there are five of you, money isn't plentiful and you're expected to make your own entertainment, that's when you discover the outdoors.
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 1413
Joined: Dec 31, 2005 9:06 pm

Postby graveleye » Jul 2, 2007 8:21 am

I was a serious roamer. I inherited it from my dad I suppose. I could easily be 5 to ten miles or more from my home. Of course, the farther distances were achieved with the help of my trusty Huffy Strider 10-speed. It was not unusual for me to make a ten mile trek to Stone Mountain, then the two or three miles around the mountain, then home again - 25+ mile round trip.

We were all over the place, in every nook and cranny of the woods, and even in the storm drains. My folks never thought a thing about it really, but if I failed to be home for dinner, or disregarded my dads whistle to come home, my narra butt was in a heap of trouble.
ad astra per aspera

The views expressed in this post are not necessarily those of any organization I am affiliated with.

Become a sustaining member of the SCCI
User avatar
Global Moderator
Posts: 2934
Joined: Mar 14, 2006 11:12 am
Location: Georgia, USA
Name: Kevin Glenn
NSS #: 57238RL

Postby hunter » Jul 2, 2007 10:48 am

I disagree with those who think it is more 'dangerous' out there for kids today than in days gone by.

I agree. Especially since you can now give your kid a cell phone and a GPS...

NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 395
Joined: Sep 9, 2005 9:47 am
Location: New Mexico

Postby Tadpole » Jul 4, 2007 2:29 am

My friends and I thought we were so cool. . .
we would all sneak out and meet up on our bikes at 1100 at night and go for midnight rides. We covered an area that included all of our houses and the furthest apart were probably only 5-7 miles by major road and much closer on the side streets we road. Of course now I know that my mother new all about it and she and all the other moms would keep tabs on us during our nightly excursions. Apparently my family knew someone at at least every other house all over that area of town. We could not have gotten away with anything . . .
“I'm not a diva. I'm a tadpole
trying to be a frog.”- Toni Braxton
User avatar
Infrequent Poster
Posts: 16
Joined: Jan 22, 2007 6:03 pm
Location: Rome, GA
Name: Rebecca Land Segrest
NSS #: 49605

Re: How far did you roam?

Postby GroundquestMSA » May 21, 2014 10:32 pm

I guess it's time to try my hand at reviving a 7-year-old topic. I know I've seen this one before, but somehow I resisted the urge to blab about my roaming habits the first time around.

When I was 7 and my brother was 5, we started riding our bikes to the store, only a mile away, to pay the rent. The landlady owned the store. I'm surprised we never tried to spend the $200 on candy and pop. I got a county map, and started highlighting each new road as I explored it on my bike. I still have that map, and about 100 square miles, as the crow flies, are entirely covered, with a few fingers extending beyond this block in several directions. This represents roughly 80 miles of roads. Looking at the map now, I'm also guessing on the rest of these distances. On foot we regularly traveled more than 5 miles from the house. I remember finding a big pool of water, the biggest in our little creek, for the first time. We were very excited, and led our little sister, probably 4 or 5 at the time, the two miles downstream to splash around in it.

Every now and then, in the middle of the night, dad would wake us up and say, "let's take a walk." We would wander through the woods for hours on bright winter nights, without any lights, sometimes stopping to build a little fire. This led, as I got a little older, to my taking walks alone almost every night. Sometimes I would walk until I was too sleepy to walk home, and would sleep on the ground for a while. I'm very thankful that my parents, raising us in the 90's, weren't obsessed with knowing our every action, didn't provide us with television or video games, didn't try to scare us away from the woods and roads with dramatic stories of kidnap and slaughter. They weren't careless, they were brilliant.

All of this constant walking growing up is the reason that I struggle with the tresspassing issue now. I've been used to going wherever I wanted. No one ever complained, probably because no one ever knew we were out there. Things have changed so much in my tiny life that I'm having trouble adjusting. Parcels are much smaller than they used to be, and more closely monitored by owners who are much more possessive/protective/likely to be idiots. It doesn't help that I'm not a little kid any more. Playing in the woods might still be ok when you're 10, but an adult in the woods must be up to something. Then again, a kid in the woods, 5 miles from home... these days someone would probably call the cops on his parents.
User avatar
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 1384
Joined: May 5, 2011 1:32 pm

Re: How far did you roam?

Postby Caving Guru » May 21, 2014 10:48 pm

Reviving a seven year old topic sounds like what I do all the time on Cave Chat like reviving the topic "What's your most technical Vertical cave?" from 2009. I read your whole post by the way, Jonah. You made some good points such as that it didn't matter back in the day if you were a kid playing in the woods but as an adult in the woods, people think you must be up to something. This could be said to be common knowledge but I never really thought about it until now.
Caving Guru
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 353
Joined: Jun 21, 2012 2:57 pm


Return to Open Talk Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users