GREENVILLE — Darke County Parks held The Survival Games, a summer day-camp with an overnight adventure for children ages 9-12 this week.
Students learned how to survive in the wilderness, in the event that they find themselves without their usual amenities, which include shelter, clean water and food.
“We use scenarios to provide basic awareness and preparation to survive a night, or longer, if necessary,” stated Robb Clifford, senior naturalist for the Darke County Parks District. “We teach the kids the ‘Rules of Three’: You can survive three hours in harsh conditions without shelter; you can survive three days without water; and you can survive three weeks without food. This helps them get their priorities straight, knowing that shelter is most important, followed by clean drinking water and then food.”
Over the course of the camp, the 16 children who attended learned how to find water and edible plants, most of which are considered weeds if it’s not a survival situation, Clifford said, and they learn how to build a shelter that will keep them dry and warm, he added, stating that shelter doesn’t have to be elaborate to be effective.
On Monday, campers learned how to build a fire and received survival kits that included a flashlight, compass, water bottle, emergency blanket, para-cord, a whistle, and flagging and duct tape, said Laura Schweiterman, volunteer coordinator for the Darke County Parks District.
On Tuesday, the children learned about first aid and finding water, using navigational skills with their new compasses, Schweiterman explained. Wednesday was the practice run for Thursday’s overnight survival adventure, she added, when students learned how to build shelter, shoot a bow and arrow, how to track and trap and how to identify edible plants in nature.
Thursday, campers arrived around 6 p.m. and “got lost” on their way to their campsite, giving the experience a more authentic feel of needing to survive a night.
“We make sure to take them way, way off trail, in a manner that they don’t know they’re just a short distance from the Nature Center,” Schweiterman explained. “When we take them to the restroom Thursday night, there’s typically a sense of disappointment that they were so close to civilization the whole time.”
It’s a great experience for the children who participate, Clifford said, because it gives them a starting point on being able to survive on their own in the wilderness, though hopefully none of them ever need it, he added.
“After camp they can add to their survival kits, and when they go out in nature, on hikes or camping or whatever, they have them, because in nature, the situation can go from fun to serious very quickly,” Clifford stated. “I hope they never have to use their kit, but this way, they have it if they ever need it.”
For more information about the Darke County Parks District, contact them at 937-548-0165 or visit www.DarkeCountyParks.org.