MCSAR to help with Hug a Tree program


CREEDE — Mineral County Search and Rescue will be helping to promote a new program for elementary school students this year.

In a meeting on May 2, Mineral County Emergency Manager Terry Wetherill briefed Mineral County Commissioners on the Hug a Tree program and what he will be doing through Mineral County Search and Rescue to supply students with a small survival pack and teach them the fundamentals of how to survive if they should become lost or separated from family while out in the wilderness.

The Creede School District contacted Wetherill and asked if he would be interested in teaching the Hug a Tree program to elementary students at the school and after doing some research on the program, Wetherill felt it was a worthwhile effort.

“I was not initially familiar with the program, so I had to do some research but after learning what it was, I was all for it. We had some funding, thanks to several generous donors to search and rescue so we decided to use some of that to create little survival kits for the students as well.” Wetherill said.

The National Association for Search and Rescue started the Hug a Tree program several years ago to educate younger generations about the importance of survival techniques. Considering an incident that left one child dead from hypothermia in the early 80’s, the organization felt it imperative to give elementary students a chance to learn about survival fundamentals to help prevent another occurrence.

According to the program description, “Inspired by the search for nine-year-old Jimmy Beveridge in 1981 in southern California, and initiated by the caring heart of Ab Taylor, the Hug-a-Tree and Survive program teaches children how to survive in the woods should they become lost. The program was developed to educate children in a select few of the most basic and vital survival principles. It was specifically designed for children between the ages of 7 and 11 but can be effective with slightly younger and older children.”

Wetherill was more than supportive of the idea of hosting a class for local students and will be working with the school to set up the date and time.

“We have purchased little canvas bags that will be filled with an emergency blanket, a whistle, a snap glow stick, a mirror for signaling help and we will do a 17-minute video on the fundamentals of survival,” he said.

Mineral County Commissioners were also in full support of the program and made suggestions on what to include in the survival kits.

“I think this is a great idea and are happy that we have the means to help provide it to the school,” said Mineral County Commissioner Ramona Weber.

Wetherill hopes to continue to offer the program in years to come.

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