Survival class teaches youngsters to make it in the wild

Jacob Redfern knows what to do if he gets lost in the woods.

He’ll sit down and read a book. Maybe blow a whistle. And wait.

“If you get lost, the book will help entertain you,” said Jacob, 7, who was one of 45 children at Little Promises Childcare center who got lessons recently in outdoor survival from Susie Burns, a teacher at the school and experienced outdoorswoman.

“You stay until someone comes to rescue you,” Jacob added.

Burns taught the children how to make emergency survival gear from black plastic garbage bags, how to deal with snakes, mountain lions and other wildlife that might pose a problem in the back country, how to build a shelter, how to avoid hypothermia, what to do with berries that look edible (ask an adult), and much more over the course of three days.

“It was about how to survive in the wilderness,” said Kailey Harrington, 9.

Children learned how to pack a daypack with items necessary to weather most emergencies, including a power bar, stocking cap, coat or sweater, a mirror, needle and thread, a notebook and pencil, and more. They made survival kits that fit into an Altoids tin.

“We made a safety kit thing,” said Fisher Anderson, 8. “It can help you survive.”

His included tissue, a disinfectant wipe, duct tape “in case your jacket rips or something” and Velcro strapping.

Burns said every student who goes through her program gets a whistle, a crucial item for any hiker.

Children watched a TV news report from several years ago about two local girls, Sarah Rosa and Holly Richards, who wandered off while hiking with Burns and who were lost for 13 hours in the Rooster Rock area, outside of Sweet Home. The two were eventually found about half a mile from the trail, Burns said.

She told the children that the girls didn’t have a whistle and made a mistake when they didn’t stop and wait to be rescued.

Sierra Lambert, 10, said that she learned how to use a mirror to flash sunlight to attract rescuers’ attention. She said compact discs can be used for that purpose as well.

“You can use a bright shirt to rip it up and tie on trees,” she said, adding that it’s wise to carry some extra clothes for warmth and rope to make shelter.

Braden Greene, 8, said he learned how to deal with rattlesnakes.

“If it’s rattling, try to get away,” he said. “It can smell you with its tongue. If one comes, back up slowly.”