I put a short account of this story in the paper the other day: 3-year-old Joshua Childers, being an inquisitive boy of his type, simply walked away from his family’s house and wasn’t found for over two days. The puzzle of why he didn’t succumb to hypothermia in two cold nights in the Mark Twain National Forest inspires an insightful account of how people get lost and found.

“I went on a hike,” the boy said after the ordeal. Then he asked for a glass of milk.

Searchers had been feeling pessimistic about finding Joshua alive. He had been lost in the wet, cold woods for almost three days. “It’s a miracle,” says Sheriff David Lewis. “I’m so happy, you can’t believe it.”

Without doubt, little Joshua’s survival is a real cause for celebration. It also reveals the fascinating science of “lost person behavior” — who gets lost, why, and who has the greatest chance of survival. And it presents an opportunity to revisit the most important survival rule if you lose your way in the woods (or anywhere else for that matter).

The story introduces Ken Hill, “the world’s foremost authority on the behavior of people who get lost.” Hikers are high on his list of most-prone-to-getting-lost.

Hikers: Hikers are another big group that gets lost. They’re very dependent on trails and most often don’t have maps or compasses. When they’re found, they’ve typically traveled between 0.87 and 2.88 miles.

Hill also has a web site with a list of tips on “woodsproofing” your kids. It’s rather detailed to the point of being daunting, but is must reading if you’d prefer not to keep your chillen’ on leashes.

You might also find the Survivor’s Club diverting.