Prepare and Pray Lesson 12: Expedition

In chapter 12 of the Swiss Family Robinson, the Robinson's set out on an expedition to search their island.

So, we set on on a expedition to search our mountain area and ventured into the Beartooth-Absaroka Wilderness in Montana. Our first trip took us up the Stillwater Trail in Woodbine Canyon. The rushing water and beauty of the canyon was breathtaking!

We hiked "patriarchal" style like the Robinson's did, letting Dad break the trail, older boys following behind helping little ones by holding tree limbs and crossing creeks, with Mom in the rear watching for stragglers.

The weather was cool and the sky cloudy and dark so we thought we would be in for a storm and hiked prepared and talked about natural indicators that the weather is changing.

It turned out to be beautiful with only a slight sprinkle.

Our second hike took us up to Woodbine Falls.

This was a really pretty hike with a steeper climb, winding trails, a natural spring, and a beautiful waterfall.

On our hikes, we demonstrated proper hiking manners by staying on the trail, avoiding shortcuts to prevent erosion, moving off the trail for descenders (they have the right away). We even met a horse and rider and practiced moving off the trail on the downhill side (where possible) and standing still until they passed.

We went over proper pacing techniques and learned how to properly hike uphill, downhill, on level ground and how to transverse a hill (which was helpful because our mountain property is hilly).

On our way down from Woodbine Falls, we took some time to teach the little ones how to use the supplies in their emergency packs.

First we looked for possible shelters and places that could be made into shelters.

Mali made his first tot shelter all by himself.

He was taught how to keep warm:
  • Put on all extra clothes
  • Find a sheltered place
  • Make a tent with his rain poncho
  • Get into his shelter
  • Wrap his space blanket around him
  • And do not move! Blow his whistle, color, sing, eat his snack, but stay put so we can find him!
I emphasized the importance of staying warm to prevent hypothermia (it gets very cold in our region) and staying put so that we can find him if he is ever lost. I also explained that getting distracted on the trail and wandering off could get himself lost (he was inclined to do just that). We practiced blowing the whistle three times (our family signal) the rest of the way down the trail.

Tot Hiking

Elli did quite well on the hike and showed much independence. Her brothers were good to help her in many spots and we took turns carrying her when she tired (carrying her was actually easier than using the backpack because she could be set down easier and encouraged to walk on her own).

We learned how to prevent and treat blisters, looking for hotspots and applying moleskin for comfort.

Campfire/Hobo Stove Cooking

We spent more time cooking outside during our camping trips this past month. I decided I need to prepare more foods that we would eat in a survival situation, rather than relying on traditional camping foods such as hotdogs, chips, etc. So, we are planning to make cowboy pinto beans and learn to use my dutch oven to make bread.

It turns out that many of the "flowers" I have spotted on our land are actually weeds. So we spent some time gathering information from the Montana Extension Service so we can learn to identify the noxious weeds.

We have already identified most of them. We also learned why some pretty flowers are considered noxious - they are poisonous to grazing animals. And that some noxious weeds, we actually use and harvest from, namely the Chokecherry, which is used to make the best jelly and syrup. The leaves, however are poisonous to animals and are why they are considered noxious.

We looked up animals and vocabulary words we didn't know, including a few strange ones like peccaries, the Manchineel tree ("little apple of death"), bittern, and also learned what Fuller's earth is - a natural clay used as soap and was used in ancient Europe for washing clothes. We learned that soap as we know it was not commonly available until the 1800's and we discussed what we could use instead of store bought soap (yucca leaves and stems).

We continued to discuss the character qualites of the Robinson's this chapter as well as qualities we need to improve upon, looking up Scripture for each quality and talking about practical ways we can apply what we have learned.

Mr. Robinson said, "It was my wish that our sons should cultivate a habit of bold independence, for well I knew that it might be the will of God to deprive them easily of their parents; when, without an enterprising spirit of self-reliance, their position would be truly miserable."

After some great discussion, we exhorted our sons to cultivate these Godly habits!


  1. Wow.. your pictures are great! What a beautiful example of real-world learning:) That's the stuff they never forget.

  2. OK, this is so super I don't even know what to type:-). You guys are amazing. What a great lesson, fun time together and such lifelong lessons you are teaching your children!! The pictures are great too!

  3. Wow! What a cool trip! I hope to come up with stuff like that for our school/life this year. God inspired and directed learning. I love that!

    Janet from the Crew

  4. Love the usual. Oh, boy, did I ever get cracked up about the hobo stove! Hahahaha!! Too funny.