Hug a Tree



SAR Foothills Communty EducationEducation and the Community

FSAR is also committed to helping the community through education. FSAR teaches the “Lost in the Woods” and “Hug-a-Tree and Survive”’ programs to interested groups, particularly schools, Boys scouts, etc.

The Hug a Tree and Survive and the Lost in the Woods programs are developed to teach children how to keep from getting lost; what to do if they do become lost; how to stay warm and dry; and how they can help searchers find them.

The following is what is taught:

1 – Always tell an adult where you are going. This will help searchers know where to begin their search for you.

2 – Dress for the weather. In the cooler months it’s important to always wear a toque and enough layers of clothing to keep your body warm, and in the summer it’s a good idea to wear a hat to shade from the hot sun. Take a look at the type of shoes you are wearing. Is it a good idea to wear sandals when going for a hike in the mountains?

3 – When going for a picnic, hike or camping trip always carry an orange garbage bag and a whistle. The bag can be used to keep you dry & warm, and if you wave the bright orange bag searchers will be able to spot you easier. It a good idea to grab some twigs, leaves, branches to keep you off the cool ground, and even sit on your garbage bag to keep you dry. The noise from the whistle will carry further than your voice and requires less energy.

4 – If you become lost, admit to yourself that you are lost and take actions to be comfortable and maintain a positive outlook until searchers arrive. It can happen to anyone, even adults.

5 – Once you know you’re lost stay in one spot. You could hug a tree, sit close to a tree, and even talking to it or singing some songs will calm you down and prevent panic. By staying in one place, you will be found far more quickly and won’t be injured in trying to find your own way out.

6 – Your parents won’t be angry with you. They love you and will be so happy when you are found. Sometimes children think they will be in trouble and hide from the searchers, please assure your children if they were ever to get lost, a happy reunion with love will be awaiting them; they will be less frightened, less prone to panic, and will work harder to be found.

7 – Help the searchers find you by listening to they yells and whistles, and then respond by blowing your whistle and waving your orange garbage bag. If they stay in one spot, it’s easier for searchers to find them. It’s important that the children understand that the searcher & volunteers are not strangers who are going to harm them, instead they care about you and want to find you & take you home to your parents. All searchers wear some kind of uniform, and will know your name, age, the clothes you were wearing, etc.

8 – Make yourself big! Wave your garbage bag, make crosses or other signs with broken shrubbery, rocks, or by dragging your foot in the dirt. Making signs, signals and waving will help searchers in helicopters, on horses, quads, dirt bikes, dogs, and those walking, find you faster!

9 – There are no animals out there that want to hurt you. Fears of the darks and “lions, tigers & bears” are a big factor in a child panicking and then running. If you hear a noise yell, or blow your whistle. If it’s an animal it will likely run away, and if it’s a searcher you will be found!


Nobody likes being frightened and being lost is a frightening thing.

You can help yourself not to be scared by singing, whistling or telling yourself jokes or stories. Pretend you are somewhere else that you really enjoy. Do anything it takes to make yourself feel better.

Wild animals don’t usually like to be near people, so don’t worry about them. If they hear or smell you, they will usually run away.

Answer a noise with a noise. If you hear something in the woods, make a noise back. If it is an animal it will run away, if it is a searcher then you will be found.

If you memorize your surroundings during daylight they won’t be so scary in the dark. See if you can identify all the things that might make a noise after dark. Trees rubbing together can make all kinds of weird noises and the sound a deer makes is truly bizarre.

Children have been known to hide or run away from searchers in fear of punishment. Children should not have any fear of returning home. Your parents, or whoever is looking after you, are going to be very happy to see you again. There will be NO punishment from search and rescue members.

There are friendly strangers who will help you when needed. Some of these are police officers, fire fighters, ambulance personnel and Search and Rescue teams. Generally, these friendly strangers work in groups and are often dressed in uniforms.

FSAR Junior InspectorSurvival Kit

The kit is contained in a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag. The freezer bags are better because they are thicker and will take more abuse. You can use the bag as a drinking cup.

• A high energy snack such as trail mix or a survival food bar. PowerBars are good and the wrapper can be used as a reflector. The food should be in its own Ziploc bag.
• A whistle to make a noise. The standard signal for help is three short blasts.
• A signal flag about 10cm by 100cm cut from an orange plastic garbage bag.
• A reflector for signalling ground searchers or aircraft. Make this from aluminum
foil glued to cardboard so it can’t cause injury.
• A large, brightly coloured garbage bag to use as a poncho. You’ll be amazed at
how much warmer it keeps you. Pre-tear a slit for the face opening — do not cut
a hole because cleanly cut plastic tends to stick to itself. A torn hole will stay
• A few cloth self-adhesive bandages so you can treat minor cuts or scrapes.

Lost in the Woods

Whether it is you or someone you know who is lost in the woods, it is a terrifying experience that sometimes ends tragically.

Here you will find rules for survival and a list of items for a simple and inexpensive survival kit. The information is based on the program presented in Lost in the Woods: Child Survival (Colleen Politano, Porthole Press, Ltd., 2082 Neptune Road, Sidney, BC, Canada, V8L 3X9). This program is taught coast-to-coast by a variety of volunteer search and rescue (SAR) organizations, usually free of charge.

FSAR teaches Lost in the Woods, as well as a similar programme called “Hug-a-tree and survive.” Hug-a-tree is recommended for children aged 4–7, whereas Lost in the Woods is suitable for age 8 to adult.

If you would like to have FSAR teach either programme to your group, contact at least four weeks in advance of your preferred date. FSAR will teach groups of 5 to 30 people, such as schools, clubs, churches or groups of families. Group members should be of a similar age.