American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Kid Gear

I built Laura a survival/got lost pack today and we started going over the various components and their uses. The list had to be both simple to use and easy to carry. It had to cover shelter, water, signalling, and fire.

The list:
  1. Emergency Space Blanket
  2. Fox 40 Mini Whistle
  3. Cyalume 12 Hour Lightsticks (2)
  4. Lexan Nalgene Bottle
  5. Blastmatch Fire Starter and Cotton Balls (7)
  6. Wool socks

The scenario would play out something like this:
Laura is out playing while Daddy is setting up camp, preparing the fire for cooking, and arranging the gear for the evening when she suddenly realizes she can no longer see or hear him nor the camp.

She has her backpack on and quickly chooses a tree, sits down under it, and opens the pack. She first takes out and opens the space blanket, wraps it around her shoulders and over her head, and begins to blow her whistle--three times, wait, three times, wait, and repeat.

She has a drink of water and realizes the sun is going down quickly and so she snaps a lightstick and gives it a shake. Now she'll have light for the next 12 to 18 hours. That's quite comforting in case of an overnight.

Back to the whistle.

If her hands get cold she can stuff them inside the extra socks. Otherwise she'll have a fresh pair for the morning--another psychological boost.

She pulls the Blastmatch out of the pack's front pocket, opens the film canister of cotton balls, removes one and fluffs it, and presses the striker into the flint rod while pushing into the cotton ball's center mass. Whoosh! Flame. That's light, more psychological boost, entertainment (what do you think they did before television?,) and warmth. A fire would also be a darned good signal for a now-frantic Daddy if he hadn't yet found her.

She adds her tinder to the fire, lets it build momentum, adds her fuel wood, and settles in with her whistle between her lips and her water bottle at her side.

In reality the "rescue" would probably take just minutes but it's comforting (to me anyway) to know that she would be well prepared if an overnight was required. It's as much about knowing what to do as it is how to use what you've got and how to have what you'll need.

This list can be supplemented depending upon the weather but can also be used as is all four seasons and day or night.

Useful additions:
  1. Snack Bars
  2. Bug spray
  3. Sunscreen
  4. Flashlight
  5. Two-way Radio

I put Laura's kit together in a backpack she received last year for her birthday. A fanny pack or vest would work equally well. It all depends on the kid and what he/she would be willing to tote around regularly in the woods. Mine both know that it is not an option when we head for the woods. That's why the whole setup HAD to be light and easy to use.

Thanks for reading,



At 7:24 AM, Anonymous SgtMike said...

BT - Nice start for a youngster. I have a couple simple additions to recommend:

1. A hat. Simple wool or fleece watch cap will help retain heat through a cool or cold night and help to keep biting bugs away in warmer weather.

2. A simple, long lasting LED flashlight. Nights are pretty spooky out and about in the bush - especially for a lost kid. While the lightsticks provide some light, a flashlight that can be conserved and used as needed will be a huge morale booster and possibly a better signal.

3. Don't forget the snacks and water...



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