Sunday, January 28, 2001

Kids learn that survival is practical skill, not show

Butler parks teach what to do in an emergency

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — While the nation experiences another round of Survivor television, some Butler County children will learn about survival in a practical way.

        From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, they will attend a survival workshop sponsored by MetroParks of Butler County.

        Naturalist Bonny Seegmueller will show children 6 to 12 years old (accompanied by an adult) what to do in case of emergencies — from storms to earthquakes.

[photo] Steven Bare, 8, blows on a smoking bundle of rope held by Butler County naturalist Bonnie Seegmueller as part of a survival workshop, at right are Catherine Bare, 4 and Danielle Bare, 11.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        “It started several years ago when scout groups asked us to do something,” she said. “We began with an emphasis on orienting with a compass and starting a fire. Then it grew.

        “People are going into the woods totally unprepared. They go in with a cell phone and a laptop, and haven't a clue what to do. They expect somebody to rescue them.”

        The message she gives: “You need to be prepared.”

        She turns coffee cans into emergency kits, to be stored in cars.

        “Kits are for families,” Ms. Seegmueller said. “If you're in some kind of situation, you'll know what to do. A lot of what we talk about is common-sense information.”

        What could possibly happen in Butler County?

        Earthquakes, for one thing. And being lost in a woods. And being caught in freezing weather.

        “We are predicted to have an earthquake — there's a strong chance — by 2040. So we want to talk about quakes because the threat is real. We sit on bedrock, so it would be quite a shock. Insurance companies are encouraging us to get earthquake insurance, which is something we never heard of years ago.”

        The course started several years ago with flint and steel, and has evolved.

        “It has become popular,” said Rhonda Smith, a spokeswoman for MetroParks of Butler County. “Parents love it. It's something that kids need to know.”

        “We have taken parents' feedback,” Ms. Seegmueller said. “We've created a little niche for the course. We draw on stories from all over the world — like how the pilot in Bosnia survived by wringing his socks out and drinking the water.”

        The course is limited to 30 children accompanied by no more than 20 adults. Advance registration is required.

        They meet in the basement of the Crawford Home, 2200 Hancock Ave., a home of Butler County MetroParks.

        “We have people who call back to say they have actually used the information they learned in our workshop,” Ms. Seegmueller said. “That's the idea.”


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