DEAR ABBY: Many years ago, my wife, our 2-year-old daughter and I went camping in a state park in upper Michigan. We were 15 miles from any town, camped near a nice little lake. One afternoon, I decided to walk in the woods and took my binoculars along. In just a few minutes I looked around and saw nothing but trees! I realized I was lost. Looking through my binocs, I located a patch of white, realized it was our laundry on the line and followed it back. But I had felt the panic of being disoriented.
A family with three small girls arrived at a camp in the mountains. Immediately, the youngest ran into the woods and others played around. Suddenly, they realized the youngest was missing and began searching and calling. No luck. She was out of earshot. Night fell and still no sign. About 100 rescuers searched into the night. The following morning, they found her under a log, very cold and tired. Think of the anguish of the parents and the cost of a search party!
Small children should have a whistle tied around their necks when they go on picnics and camping. That way, they can blow until rescued. There are many kinds of communication devices on the market that anyone going into the mountains, winter or summer, can purchase. Not long ago I read about a fellow caught in an avalanche who was able to direct rescuers to him because he had a walkie-talkie. A word to the wise ... WM. T. ELLIOTT, IRVINE, CALIF.
DEAR WM. T. ELLIOTT: The suggestion to supply a whistle for small children who are being taken camping is a good one -- and could avert many anxious moments. As to the reminder that high-tech devices can be lifesavers for adults going into wildlife recreational areas, one only has to recall the stranded climbers who have been saved because they remembered to bring along cell phones to know that they are great insurance.
DEAR ABBY: You had a letter in your column a couple of months ago from Kristy Hawkins, who was keeping a journal of her child's life. I do the same thing.
Abby, you heartily endorsed the idea, but you wrote that you were passing her idea along to "mothers" everywhere. I know you meant no slight, but the word should have been "parents." Fathers are everywhere in the lives of their children these days. I see them at school, sports, church, playing in the yard, and even at Girl Scout meetings.
I realize it is still common for the father to work to support the family while the mother cares for the little ones, but fathers play an important role in rearing children. If we are ever going to stamp out discrimination, we must be conscious of our own biases and stop giving only half the parenting partnership all the credit. -- FRUSTRATED FATHER IN PORTSMOUTH, R.I.
DEAR FRUSTRATED FATHER: You are right, of course. It was a slip of the pen, and I'll take my lashes with the wet noodle.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600