When you think of camping with Girl Scouts of Colorado, what pops to mind? Maybe it’s hiking, camping, forests, mountains or any of the hundreds of fun things you can do outside. With Colorado’s distinct four seasons and 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s no wonder we can’t help but be drawn outside. Alas, with all of the outdoor activities this beautiful state has to offer, there is always the chance that things could go very wrong. So what do we do if that happens, are you prepared to survive or help others survive? If you’ve ever wondered about what it would take to be able get out of the wild safely, then Tomahawk Ranch is the place to be this summer. With several Survival themed camps being offered we can make sure you’re ready for just about anything Mother Nature may throw at you. We will give you the tools and the talent, transforming you into a true Survivor Scout!
It can happen to the best of us-you go out for a hike or a one night camp-out and the unthinkable happens, a wrong trail is taken or maybe a little off trail hiking and the next thing you know you’re lost. Things start to happen quickly, panic and fear set in, questions flood your mind, and you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that things are very, very bad. There is a bright spot though, situations like these are very survivable if you have just three things: preparation, a few basic skills, and a survivor mentality. Now you may say to yourself, “I just don’t have the knowledge it takes to become a Survivor Scout,” or maybe its “I don’t think I can do that,” or the famous, “That could never happen to me.” First off the bad news, it can happen to anybody. Lucky for us though, the good news is you can do it, all it takes is a little positive thinking and proactive planning.
Two of these three things need happen before we ever set foot on the trail or in the woods, and the first step is done from the comfort of your own home. Since home is where we are all most comfortable we will start with that piece of the puzzle, being prepared. It probably seems silly, but most of the items you will need are right in your home. There are some things that are good to carry every time you go hiking, so we will focus on those. Most of the materials put in a survival kit can be found pretty easily and don’t cost a lot of money and can literally save our lives. One warning though, we have all walked down the outdoor section of our favorite sporting goods store and seen all the really fancy and expensive stuff they sell to help people survive and stay comfortable. Well friends, I hate to say it, but surviving is never comfortable (and neither is emptying our wallets) so steer clear of the fancy stuff and just stick to the old adage of Keep it Simple. Let’s break it down by item and figure out why we need them.
Matches (Waterproof or in a waterproof container) – For building that wonderful thing called fire that provides warmth, signaling and a way to cook.
A back up fire making tool (or three) – Yes you have matches already, but let’s face it, sometimes they just don’t work. So whether you like flint and steel, a 9-volt battery and steel wool, a lighter, magnifying glass or you become master of a primitive form of fire making, it’s always a good idea to have a few backups.
Rope (Paracord/550 Cord is the best) – Helps with shelters, and who know what else. Paracord or 550 Cord is meant for parachutes so can take a real beating and not break.
Multi-Tool – It doesn’t have to be a certain brand, so long as it has plyers, a knife, and some sort of serrated saw blade. The rest of the do-dads are nice additions but not always necessary.
Metal Cup or Can – You’ll need water when you are lost-even more than normal-and the cup/can gives us a way to collect it and even better to boil it and make it safe to drink.
Solar Blanket – These tinfoil looking blankets don’t look like much, but in a pinch they can make the difference between a really cold night and hypothermia.
Water Purification Tablets – There will be times when a fire just won’t work, so it’s good idea to still have a way of getting fresh water. Warning: it won’t taste the best, but it will be safe.
Compass – Having a compass, and being trained in its use, can get you home. You may be thinking why not just use a GPS? When they work, GPS’s are a great tool. But they are full of problems: they are expensive, the batteries die, and in deep woods they don’t work a large portion of the time. A compass’s batteries will never die on you and unless North and South switch they are always reliable.
Whistle – This last one is easily over looked. But a very loud whistle will help Search and Rescue teams find you, and it scares the heck out of any unfriendly animals that may come nosing around.
Survivor Snacks – These are what will give you energy and help you feel better. Keep a few Protein Bars, Almonds, Honey Sticks or anything similar in your bag to can keep you from eating some other gross stuff that you’d have to scavenge for. Another item that goes unthought-of is any medication you may take. Always have a few extra stashed in your kit.
Trash Bags (2) – Trash Bags are great, they can help collect water, be your poncho or transform into a tent.
This list is just the basics, you can fit most of these items into a small coffee can and it will be fairly light weight. The important part is to keep it small and light weight, nobody wants to carry something huge and heavy on a hike. Not to mention if you keep it easy to carry, it makes it much more likely that you will toss it in your bag whenever you go adventuring. Remember though, just carrying these things is only the first step, knowing how to use each and every item is what will help you get home. Feel free to add to the list if something seems important; some people carry little fishing kits, hammocks, signal mirrors, knives of all sizes, folding saws or hatchets. All are great additions, but add weight and take up room so test your pack first to see if it’s ok to carry.
While you are still thinking of things that can be started at home, take a look around you, find the things, people, pets that you love…go on…take a walk around and look, it’s ok, I’ll wait.
Great, now that you’ve seen all those things you need to remember them. When that worst case scenario happens and you need that motivation to press on just think of those things, think of getting back to all the things you love. That’s just the start of survivor mentality. That way of thinking that helps you push through the hunger, the cold, the fear and gets you home. Being scared is completely normal, don’t be hard on yourself, even the best trained and equipped survival experts in the world have that fear when things go wrong. The difference is how they work through that fear, how they try to stay positive, and how they take even the smallest victories and use them to push on. That’s what survivor mentality is, it’s accepting the negative and moving past it, it’s about saying, “I can do this!” The truth is, you’re stronger than you think, and once you realize that, there’s no limit to what you can get through.
The last piece of our puzzle is the training. Building shelters, fires, purifying water, navigation, learning how to use the items you’ve packed, and learning what foods are best in the woods. The key to the Survival Training is learning by actually doing. This is the fun stuff, the building our own shelter and camping out, collecting firewood and building fires to cook your own food with, and the pride that comes from knowing you can face the trials of the forest. These are only a few of the things that a Survivor themed camp at Tomahawk Ranch offers. Build the skills you need to face the challenges that the wilderness presents you with, and find the courage and motivation to press on when others may want to quit. Learn to channel your inner strength and become the Survivor Scout you were always meant to be!
Your friend in adventure, Flint “Kevin Igo”
Girl Scouts of Colorado features many “survival” themed summer camps, including, but not limited to: SH03 Mystery Mountain, SH11 inTents, SH31 Sky High Base Camp, SH32 Backpacker, SH43 #EpicQuest, TR07 Survivor 2.0, TR11 & TR39 Arrows, TR13 & TR46 Girl vs Zombie, TR14 Scout vs Wild 1.0, TR21 Crossbows, TR22 Mocking Jay, TR27 Outpost 4.0, and TR45 Lady Marvel.