(Front) Isaac and Elijah Thompson build a shelter out of fallen tree branches at the Springbrook Winter Survival Program on March 10.

Kids attend winter survival program at Springbrook State Park

The human body can survive approximately two weeks without food, two days without water and as little as two hours without shelter, Springbrook State Park Training Specialist Anne Riordan tells kids at a winter survival program on March 10. 

Depending on the weather, shelter may be one of the most important things when it comes to survival outdoors. At the winter survival program, Riordan taught kids how to build a shelter, start a fire and use a compass. Most importantly, Riordan advised kids that the first thing they should do before going on an adventure is to tell someone where they are going. 

While the program proved to be educational, there was no shortage of fun or creativity. 

Kids began the day by building their own compasses using only a stick and the sun. They tracked the movement of the stick’s shadow by placing a rock where the shadow began and another rock to where the shadow moved to throughout the day. Students used these rocks to determine which direction was north.

The students also learned about the different parts of a magnetic compass and how to use them. 

Following compass training, the adventurers hiked up to the beach shelter area for a lesson in shelter building. There, the eleven kids split up into two groups to build shelters around a tree. 

One group had a difficult time agreeing on a location for their shelter and initially split up into two smaller groups. However, fourth grader Eli Van Unen realized that the project would be easier if all five kids worked together, and he persuaded his team to rejoin with the other group members.

“We were working separately, and I thought if we put all of our brains together instead of being separate, we could build a nice big shelter,” said Van Unen.

The group began with a large tree and propped fallen branches all around it, creating a tent-shaped shelter. The shelter was complete with a coat hanger and a flag pole with mittens as substitutes for flags. Mud and leaves were stuffed between the cracks in the branches to better insulate the shelter. 

“The (mud) is to seal it,” explained Sam Sloss. “It’s supposed to make it a tight seal. You put the mud on to fill in the cracks.” 

All eleven students agreed that it was warmer inside of their shelters than outside because the large branches blocked the wind. 

“This shelter has no windows,” observed kindergartener Alveda Hunt. “It looks like a firewood thing, except it’s bigger than us.” 

To finish off the day, the young explorers went back down to the campgrounds to learn all about fire building. There, students learned how to start a fire using flint, batteries and steel. They learned that a fire needs fuel, oxygen and a spark, and they discovered different ways to get that spark. 

The program proved to be both educational and fun for the students, who left Springbrook with a greater knowledge of how to survive outdoors in case of an emergency. 

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