Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Just a word or two about the Hug A Tree program---

1.  Although the program teaches to tell your child that there are no animals out there will hurt them, this of course is not totally true.  I think that it is a good idea to not compound the fears of a child lost in the wild by filling their head with a list of every animal that could harm them.  If a child is lost, being lost will generate enough fear to deal with for a child.  Parents and adults should realize that even in your presence, a child may be hurt by bugs, snakes, and several animals.  Perhaps, depending on the child's age it is best to at least educate the child on creatures to avoid and stay away from  (spiders, snakes, skunks, wolves, bears, cougar etc)  In some cases perhaps all a child can do is remain still and quite, but in most cases the child can learn to stay away if they see these creatures out in the wild.

Here is an interesting story I just recently came across --Boy attacked by wolf

2.  Hug A Tree does not teach children to make fires.  There are of course many safety reasons for not teaching a young child to make a fire.  However, my personal feelings are that a child can be taught to safely make a fire as early as age 5.  They should also be clearly taught that they are not to make a fire out in the wild unless they are lost.  Certainly if a child is not taught how to make a fire, they may never know how to do so in a safe and effective manner.  When speaking about children, it is generally understood that this refers to individuals under the age of 18.  While a 5 year old may not have the motor skills and strength of a 17 year old, they both (and all ages between 5 and 17) should be able to make a fire.  A simple fire can give comfort, warmth, be used for cooking and serve as a signal to others.  Children 10 years and older should be considered very capable of making a fire and should definitely be equipped and trained to do so.  Perhaps one of the easiest items to include in their survival kit is a BIC type lighter ( not trying to promote BIC, just any brand of lighter that you can often buy in dollar stores - sometimes at 3 or 5 for a buck.)  Not much money invested for this purchase but it can be a real life saver.  The fire may even be used potentially to fend off some animals.  If you do not like the idea of teaching a young child (under age 10) to make a fire, then look at other options.   Warmth can come via heat packets that are simple to use and they can save the life of a child from hypothermia and freezing.  A heat reflective emergency blanket and food bars should also be in the kit to help with body heat.  Light sticks and flashlights can provide light and serve for signaling others.  These items should be included in any child wilderness survival kits/fanny pack and they are also good items for adult kits as well.  Adults should review the kit contents with children before each trip to the wild and make sure the kids know the use of each item and this is a good time to make sure each item is in good condition.

3.  The above comments are meant in no way to find fault with the Hug A Tree program.  It is a wonderful program in many ways.  Certainly the concept of teaching a child to stay put if lost is the most important teaching in the program.  I encourage all adults to take to time review this program which has saved lives.  Get a good understanding of this program in such a way that you can effectively teach it to your children, grandchildren and if their friend want to join in - all the better.  Practice Hug A Tree skills with them and the experience will be fun.  Practicing will help the child to know automatically what to do if lost and it can save a life.  Teach children also that if they are lost in the wild and they hear searchers calling their name - they should respond by yelling and making their location known. 

Please also check out this web page with your children -  - Hug A Tree

The next blog will continue with the "T" from the S.T.O.P. wilderness survival concept.