LOST and wanting to be found in a hostile environment

What to Do When You Are Lost and want to reconnect with your Group

I learned a very valuable lesson when I was 14 on the 2nd day an African safari with my father.  As my father and guide were stalking a Greater Kudu, the guide turned to me and said, “wait right here”.  I did without question, but as any 14 year old kid would do, my mind started wandering.As I started thinking about all the irrational fears of what could happen to me—“Lions, tigers and bears…Oh my!?!”—I began to panic.  When a person panics, what kind of decisions does he make?

So I decided to back-track my way to the road we came in on.  While I found the road, I was turned around a bit and could not see where our Rover was parked.  Rather than risk getting even more lost than I was, I could see our camp from where I was standing.  I could make a 2-mile hike on the road and a steep climb uphill for about a half-mile through acacia trees to reach sanctuary.

After making it to the top of that painful climb, all cut up by acacia trees and finally getting some water, I realized that I was not yet out of danger; my father was going to be PISSED!

About 45 minutes later, we saw the rover on the road, with everyone looking around for any sign of the missing 14-year old boy.  My sister and others at the camp waved them down, which was a clear-enough sign to the rover that I was at the camp.

As my dad stormed into camp, all I could say is “hi dad”. With the expression of his face he replied with much more than the simply reply he gave me of, “hi son-!”.  Then I got a talking to from the guide, but what he said was an invaluable lesson that I still share with people to this day.

(Assuming you want to be found)

  1. If you are lost in the brush, give some sign of direction that you’re going by breaking branches every few steps.
  2. If you are on a road, write a simple message with a stick every 15-30 minutes, giving a time, direction and destination that you’re going.
  3. If you are ever supposed to stay and meet someone at a certain destination and time and they don’t make it back when you expect them to, THEN STAY PUT!  If you go looking for your party and they’re looking for you and you’re both not where you’re supposed to be, how smart is that?

While these three lessons are hard for me to ever forget, the third has the most common-day application.  “A wise man learns from his mistakes, but the wiser learns from the mistakes of others.” I hope my mistake from many years ago provides a clear lesson for others to become wiser in their survival instinct.

What to Do When You Are Lost and want to reconnect with your Group

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