Experiences, anecdotes, tips, how-tos, hiking, nature, motherhood, memories.

Adventures in Camping with Kids

Camping with kids is like pitching a tent upside down. Both are bound to fill with laughter and raindrops.

--Victoria Marie

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Keeping Children Safe in Crowded Vacation Areas

Disney World and balloons, a great combination
Now about that other time when the twins were five. 

We were visiting one of America’s best playgrounds for families:  Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  

I always worried about losing a child in crowds.  Only this time, it happened.  But I was prepared.

We were visiting Disney World in January during one of Florida’s rare cold snaps.  [Of course!]  I had each child wear their school backpacks to carry their autograph books for the characters, pens, water bottles, trinkets they purchased, and raincoats in case of rain. 

Like we do for our camping trips, we brought layers to wear.  We wore everything; short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, and raincoats.  Still we shivered.  Thank God for the It’s a Small World ride.  It was the only ride for young families—inside! 

Each day, I would buy a helium balloon at the park gate and tie it to the children’s backpack strap.  Instinctively, I counted balloons all day; each time we went into a restaurant, rode the monorail, watched the parades, or waited in line for a ride.  I held backpacks while the children rode the rides.

One day, as we left the monorail in another noisy swarm of people, I counted balloons above the heads.  Five.  Everyone got off.  We gathered our coats, camera, and collapsed double stroller and left the platform, heading up the swift escalator. 

Then for some reason, I decided to count balloons again.

One, two, three, four!  My heart stopped.

Just as we do when we hike, my husband was in front of the line of balloons; I, at the back of the line of children.  Frantically, I looked at my balloons and found one of the twins missing.

Above the din of music and conversations, I shouted to my husband.  Turning around on the escalator, I spied a balloon still on the platform in the throng of people. 

I screamed her name and the word balloon as I fought my way through the people jammed on the escalator, attempting to race down the up escalator.

I continued to scream balloon, pushing and shoving people out of my way to get to the platform before my little girl got swept onto the next train by the crowd.

Yes!  People stared at me and gave way.  I kept screaming balloon.  The train had come by this time.  Then a lady had cleared people away from a ballooned little girl who was crying and the crazy lady screaming balloon reached her in time. 

We both cried, sitting there on the train station floor.  I thanked the woman.

When a vacation spot is very busy and popular, such as Disney World, using balloons as markers can be a good idea.  Especially if you have more than two children.  The balloon allowed me to find my daughter from the escalator.  I could see the balloon above the crowd.  And of course, the kind lady who kept her from being swept into the train was an angel.

How about you?  Do you ever worry about losing your children in the crowds?