Ever wonder why the Boy Scouts spend so much time training youth and adults in outdoor skills? Members of the organization know that mother nature offers tons of opportunities for adventure along with profound learning experiences. They also know that being outside, many times in remote locations, can be a recipe for disaster if not prepared. Before you head out on your next trip, make sure that you know these 9 Essential Camping and Hiking Skills. They can save you from harm and heartache.
1. Ability To Swim-Many campsite and trails are located in areas with adjacent bodies of water. Even if you do not plan to enter water, you may do so by accident, so be ready.
2. First Aid Skills-Such as treatments for animal bites, blisters, broken bones, burns, choking, cuts and scraps, falls, and sprains. Also, up-to-date CPR training can prove lifesaving. Along with first aid skills, campers should put together a well-stocked first aid kit.
3. How to Start a Fire-Includes knowing how to prep and maintain a safe area for your fire if a fire ring is not available. Helpful to these efforts will be knowledge of how to safely handle and use an ax.
4. How to Store Food-Unless you want to be visited by all the creatures of the woodlands, large and small, get educated about the best places and ways to store your eats while tent or shelter camping.
5. Identification of Poisonous Plants and Animals-Being able to tell the difference between venomous snake and spiders and their friendlier counterparts, as well as, how to quickly identify poison ivy, can keep you out of a world of hurt. Also, the ability to identify animal tracks is helpful. That way you know what animals are in the area with you.
6. Knot Tying-Knots are your friends when it comes to the great outdoors. Good basic knots to master include the:
- Bowline-Perfect for forming a loop that will not slip. May be just what you need in a rescue situation.
- Figure 8-Good for making a stop knot at the end of a rope or other line.
- Square Knot-Also commonly known as the joining knot, great for tying two ropes together.
- Taut-Line Hitch-Helps achieve the tight lines that are needed for tent guy or dining fly lines.
- Timber Hitch-Great for pulling timber or other objects across land.
- Two Half Hitches-A go to for tying rope to things such as trees and poles.
7. Map and Compass Reading-The ability to orient and use maps and compasses are especially important any time that you venture out on a trail. As are the skills to find directions using the sun and stars to put you back on the right track should you become disoriented.
8. Weather Safety -Make sure that you are schooled in what to do in case you caught outside or in a tent during a flash flood, snow storm, thunderstorm, or tornado.
9. What to Do If You Encounter Bears And Other Inhabitants of the Wild-When venturing into other creatures’ home territories, you are likely to run across them at one point or another. It depends on the animal that you are encountering as to how you handle your accidental meet ups.
Great resources for learning the essential camping and hiking skills include the Boy Scout Handbook, Boy Scout merit badge books such as Emergency Preparedness, First Aid, and Wilderness Survival. Other good resources are The American Red Cross’s trainings, many of which are online.
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