Survival training for Swedish kids


Can you find the marker? (Pretty easy, now that the leaves are gone...)

Can you find the marker? (Pretty easy, now that the leaves are gone…)

On my ride to work in the mornings, recently, I have seen gaggles of young kids running through the woods. They often carry pads of paper and writing utensils, and they range in packs of two or three.  My guess is that they are in search of what look like small orange and white box kites that are orienteering tags, scattered throughout the part of the Djurgården forest in which I like to run.

Orienteering is popular here, I’m told. One of my colleagues does a loop in the woods near his house in the summer; the local community has a raffle for the folks who send in accurate findings of each orange and white tag.  The kids here also seem to be building lean-tos from sticks and small logs.

Survival: You never know when the Russians will be coming, or if you are going to get stuck in the woods in the middle of winter. Something like that must be behind this kind of training.

But really, what this is is indoctrination, survival training of a different sort:  Go out into the woods, kid, and make those habits now while you are young.  You need them to survive Swedish winter, mentally and physically.  Doesn’t matter if the Russians are coming.  Winter is coming!

And hence the small children at the daggis (daycare) across the street from our apartment building, out in all weather, bundled up in snowsuits if necessary, rain gear, whatever it takes to allow them to play outside comfortably, rain or (perhaps sometimes) shine. I have to remember to practice the same this coming winter — get outside for a midday run when there is sun, or an ice skate or a walk.  Survival training!

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