Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hug a tree!!!

Hug a tree!!!
Originally uploaded by merriwether.

I've been watching the news reports about the 11-yr. old scout who had become lost up in Utah. Luckily he was found alive and in good health after four days in the wilderness. In an interview on Fox News the parents stated that they had never thought their child would get lost in the woods and so they never taught him what to do if that happened. The only thing they ever told him was, "Stay on the path and don't talk to strangers." It turns out the child spent days hiding from the searchers because of the whole "Don't talk to strangers" thing. Then the parents stated that they didn't even know where to start as far as what to teach him to do if he got lost. I found this very frustrating. Any kid who is going out into the woods for any reason under any circumstance should be taught what to do if lost and they should also have a small "lost" kit with them at all times.


For children under 13 years old they should ALWAYS carry a belt pouch containing

1. A whistle. A whistle can be heard farther away and can last longer than just shouting. If nothing else, the kid should have a whistle!

2. Large, orange contractor's trash bags. These are cheap, waterproof, relatively puncture-resistant, and versatile, and highly visible. They can be used to make a weatherproof poncho, a sun shade, to carry water, or to signal a searcher. Have at least two of these bags. You can get them at Home Depot or other hardware stores.

3. Cylume light sticks. These will give comforting light all night long. Two is also probaly enough.

4. Cap. A simple baseball cap can offer shade, warmth and protection from rain. Like momma says, wear your hat!

5. Water. At least 12 onces. A quart if the child can carry it comfortably.

6. Candy. 3-4 peices to help the child keep her/his spirits up.

Notice I left out knives or materials for making a fire. I feel a young, UNTRAINED child could end up making a bad situation worse when they start fiddling around with knives or fire. However, if you take the time to teach your child responsibile firecraft and blade use then feel free to add them to the kit. Other optional gear include bugspray and suntan lotion. Some might say a compass should be in there, but my feeling is that a compass could tempt the child to keep wandering.


1. Stop! Once you realize you are lost don't go any farther. Pick a tree and hug it. Stay by this tree! The more you wander the harder you'll be to find.

2. Pull out your kit. You have it with you, right?

3. Tear one of the orange bags in half and tie the peices to the ends (away from the tree) of the branches of your tree as high up as you can reach as a signal to searchers. Don't climb the tree.

4. If the weather is cold or wet take the other orange contractor's bag, tear out a hole for your face along the edge of the bag about eight inches up from the bottom (sealed) edge of the bag, then place the bag over your head/body. Your face should be sticking out of the hole you made (see the picture). Crouch down and wrap your arms around you legs inside the bag if you are cold.

5. Start blowing your whistle. Blow three times as loud as you can, then remain quiet for a minute or two and listening for a response.

6. Have a peice of candy if you are feeling sad or scared. Drink some water.

7. Stay by the tree and keep blowing your whistle even after you hear people responding. Don't run away from them, they are trying to help you. Don't leave your tree to try and find them! Stay by the tree, blow your whistle, and let them find you!

8. If night falls don't panic. Activate your lightstick and stay by the tree.

9. Once found, tell the rescuers and reporters that you owe your survival to Merriwether the Adventurer at :-)

The above information can also be found at

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