Audrey Sutherland and her inflatable kayak

What Every Kid Should Be Able to Do by Age Sixteen

"Go simple, go solo, go now.” These are the words that propelled paddling legend Audrey Sutherland through numerous kayaking adventures during her 94 years of life. The epic free spirit, who died in 2015, believed that security came not from money but from building one’s own skills and unlocking one’s own courage.

"Go simple, go solo, go now."

Audrey Sutherland urged people never to wait for the right moment to travel. “What we most regret are not the errors we made, but the things we didn’t do,” she once wrote.

Audrey was meticulous in her preparation and route planning. Her emphasis on preparation demonstrated what can be accomplished with clear goals:

Doing what you want to do isn’t a question of can you or can’t you, but deciding what your ultimate desire and capability is and then figuring out the steps to accomplishment. It’s ‘I’m going to. Now how? What gear will I need? What skills will I need? What will it cost? When will it happen? When I succeed, what next?’

In light of this, we thought we'd share Audrey's list of What Every Kid Should Be Able to Do by Age Sixteen.

Audrey Sutherland with dinner

Audrey Sutherland with the makings of an Alaskan feast. She preferred mussels because they don’t move and are easier to catch.

What Every Kid Should Be Able to Do by Age Sixteen
  • Swim 400 yards easily
  • Do dishes in a strange house, and your own
  • Cook a simple meal
  • See work to be done and do it
  • Care for tools and always put them away after use
  • Splice or put a fixture on an electric cord
  • Know basic information about five careers that suit you
  • Volunteer to work for a month in each of those fields
  • Clean a paintbrush after use
  • Change a diaper, and a tire
  • Listen to an adult talk with interest and empathy
  • Take initiative and responsibility for school work and home chores
  • Dance with any age
  • Clean a fish and dress a chicken
  • Drive a car with skill and sanity
  • Know and take responsibility for sexual conception and protection when needed
  • Know the basic five of first aid: restore breathing and heartbeat, control bleeding, dilute poisons, immobilize fractures, treat for shock
  • Write a business letter
  • Spend the family income for all bills and necessities for two months
  • Know basic auto mechanics and simple repair
  • Find your way across a strange city using public transportation
  • Be happy and comfortable alone for ten days, ten miles from the nearest other person
  • Save someone drowning using available equipment
  • Find a paying job and hold it for a month
  • Read at a tenth grade level
  • Read a topographic map and a chart
  • Know the local drug scene for yourself
  • Handle a boat safely and competently (canoe, kayak, skiff, sailboat)
  • Operate a sewing machine and mend your own clothes
  • Operate a computer as needed
  • Do your own laundry
Posted in Adventure.