Scouts learn how to survive Minnesota's worst

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It was cold. It was wet. It was not an ideal day to be outside.

But it was a good example of some of the conditions one might have to combat should they get stuck outdoors in a Minnesota winter. That's just one of the lessons learned by about a dozen boys and girls who spent a couple hours at Carpenter Nature Center Saturday for CNC's "Scout Fun Day: Winter Survival" program.

Jessie Eckroad, outreach program coordinator for CNC, led the program. The event started indoors, where Eckroad taught the Scouts some of the basics of how to survive outdoors.

The first lesson included making sure the Scouts knew the essential items they should have with them when going on a hike (a first-aid kit, full water bottle, flashlight, trail food, sun protection and a whistle), since the best way to be successful in a survival situation is to prepare and avoid the survival situation in the first place, Eckroad said.

She also talked about certain items that aren't necessary, like a cell phone, which becomes useless once its battery runs out or if something happens to it to cause it not to work.

For times when survival is necessary, the Scouts learned about what things are critical to have after three seconds, three minutes, three hours, three days and three weeks out in the wild. The first need? A positive attitude, as panic can make the situation worse, Eckroad explained. At three minutes, survivors need air to breathe. At three hours, they need shelter. At three days they need water, and, surprising to many of the Scouts in attendance, the last priority is food, which doesn't become an absolute necessity until three weeks into a survival situation.

After covering the basics, the Scouts learned some specific, practical lessons, like how to build a fire and considerations for building shelter. CNC provided materials for both and sent the Scouts outdoors to test their new skills in the woods just outside the visitor's center.

The Scout Fun Day was just one of the many youth events CNC hosts each year. The organization hosts events for school groups, community youth groups like Cub and Girl Scouts, summer camps, adult community groups and outreach events. More information is available online at " target="_blank">carpenternaturecenter.org.