I'm mixing my metaphors here, but sometimes I considered us stray cats, and sometimes a wolf pack. That is, my friends and I when growing up.
When I was a kid we used to ride in the back of my father's pickup trunk. We never got tossed out, because we hung on for dear life. Try putting your kids in the back today (cue busybodies with cell phones, followed by police sirens).
On weekends we'd leave the house (when they didn't throw us out), not tell our parents where we were going, and come back for lunch (sometimes) followed by dinner. Our parents didn't care. Sometimes we'd do things we'd never tell them, like ride our bikes ten miles out.
As I teenager I hitchhiked all the time. Once a friend and I took off one summer and were gone for three weeks. We hitched to California and back. We didn't tell our parents we were going. We just went. I've even hitched by myself across country. Our parents weren't even mad.
These things seemed normal to me, just the way it seemed normal to stay out until three a.m. on the weekends.
We knew there was crazies out there but we had a situational awareness and we weren't really afraid of much.
We used to go camping, too, as teenagers. We'd drive a hundred miles to a state park, stay there for the weekend (or longer during summer), then drive back. Sometimes we hike into the woods to see what we could see. We never got lost.
We carried knives in case we did run across some crazies. We also used to tote our .22 rifles down the railroad tracks and blow up gallon jugs of water.
Do kids even do these things anymore? Are they too busy playing video games or being smothered by helicopter parents who think danger lurks everywhere?
Now you've got parents who can't even let their kids walk home from school without someone calling their cops.
I did know some kids who got killed. Two got squished by tractors, one drowned, and two died in car wrecks.
There is enough danger out there without making up stuff.