Inspired by the search for nine-year-old Jimmy Beveridge in 1981 in southern California, the program was developed to educate children in a select few of the most basic and vital survival principles.

In the wake of national news surrounding a three-year old boy surviving alone in the woods, Hawthorn Elementary brought in local park rangers from Ha Ha Tonka State Park to provide the students with the “Hug a Tree” seminar. Park Rangers Jacob Shaver and Tyler Roby held two morning sessions, each highlighting the nationally trained information about the proper actions for young people to take in the event of being lost in the woods. 

Inspired by the search for nine-year-old Jimmy Beveridge in 1981 in southern California, the program was developed to educate children in a select few of the most basic and vital survival principles. Included in the training was items to take on hikes, how to call for help and ways to conserve energy if a search were to last a long time. 

Of course, at the core of the information was the idea to “Hug a Tree” if you cannot find your way back to your family and friends. This provides a small bit of shelter and keeps a lost child stationary for a search and rescue team to more easily find. 

Shaver says the information presented is easy for the kids to pick up and is a valuable set of tools for them to use, especially as warm weather comes and the activity at local state parks increases. With so many wooded and tree filled areas around the lake, they were happy to have worked out a time to present this program to local students. 

Roby says that they do these types of programs more so in the off season of the park to reach children before the summer comes back around, but it can also be important for adults. He says adults end up being involved in search and rescue missions more often than children, so this information is just as valuable.. He says they plan to present “Hug a Tree” at least once or twice a month to nearby schools. 

“We’ve done a good job this year getting the information out,” Roby said. “We’re hoping next year to double it.” 

Free information on the “Hug a Tree” teachings can be found at http://www.nasar.org/education/hug-a-tree/ for anyone interested.