When in doubt, Hug-A-Tree | SkyHiNews.com

When in doubt, Hug-A-Tree

Reid Tulley
rtulley@skyhidailynews.com

Grand County Search and Rescue member Dave Kafer instructs Granby Elementary School third graders on how to properly and safely use a garbage bag to stay warm and dry as part of the Hug-a-Tree program on Tuesday, May 21, in Granby. Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News

On a Saturday in 1981, 60 miles northeast of San Diego, three brothers were hiking a half-mile from the campsite where their parents were preparing lunch. Two of the brothers thought the third brother, 9-year-old Jimmy Beveridge, was racing them back to the campsite, but he never returned.

After a short search by the parents, which turned up no Jimmy, a large-scale search for the boy was started. After four days of searching by 400 searchers, including 200 marines, the boy's jacket and one shoe were recovered and his direction of travel was finally established. Wednesday morning Jimmy's body was found curled up next to a tree in a ravine about two miles from the campground. He had died from hypothermia.

The parents, searchers, and everyone involved were affected by the tragedy involving little Jimmy Beveridge. To try to make sure an incident like this never happened again, one of the lead trackers involved in the search started the Hug-A-Tree program.

The program seeks to educate children ages 5-12 on the very basic principles for staying safe in the wilderness. The program reenforces not only its primary message of "stay put, hug a tree, and wait until help arrives," but also some very basic survival techniques like how to signal rescuers.

Since the program's inception, numerous success stories have been recorded where children have used the skills they have learned through the Hug-A-Tree program and were found after they became lost.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, students at Granby Elementary participated in the Hug-A-Tree program, which consists of a short cartoon with memorable characters and discussions with the children about how to stay safe in the wilderness. Members of Grand County Search and Rescue presented the program to the students in hopes children would learn the basic skills that can help them be found if they become lost.

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Reporter Reid Tulley, a Grand County Search and Rescue volunteer himself, can be reached at 970-887-3334

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