Jul 26, 2010

Lessons Learned - Field Training

Camping (as a form of field training)

Well this weekend was a good training exercise. The original intent was to go rafting, and the rest of the group was to camp for the night. Well here in Modesto it was about 500deg. (Ok 95+) Heat was a SERIOUS problem, especially for my kids. My mother went along as well, and she wasn’t doing so well either. In the beginning of the day, we arrived at a beach portion of a local state park and I let my kids play in the river, looking at the little fish swimming around, and picking up freshwater clam shells. It must be rich there as the sand was littered with them. Anyway, I stayed in the water with my kids as there were a few deep places, and even if the water was not running fast, it was stronger that a 3 year old who can’t swim (yet). I took the opportunity to show them the different kinds of life living around the river, and to not fear the water, but respect the power of it.

After a couple of hours I scouted around and found where my group was meeting and packed up my kids to move to the campground areas. This was about 11:20am

This is where the real learning begins.

The camp area was maybe 100-150 yards from the parking lot. The first load (let me remind you, I was only staying there with my kids for about 6 hours at this point) I took my 24hr kit, my kids BOB Bags, an Ice chest (Full), and my mother carried a large beach bag full of kids clothes and a folding chair. I was pouring sweat with just that tiny little walk and still had to keep up my strength to assist my kids getting there shoes on instead of flip flops, and my mother to set up her stuff. In the 6hrs that we were there, we move the positions of chairs at least 5 times to stay in the shade. 2 more trips were made to our vehicle for various items, but not much more that a bag or two worth of “stuff”.

Lessons learned:

Hats are a must. I don’t wear them, and my kids don’t like them, but every time I had to walk in the sun I flipped on the boonie hat I had brought along, and I swear, it felt like the temperature dropped 15 deg.

You cannot have too much to drink, and Ice was Stupid. I brought a large jug (1 liter I think) of juice, a six pack of bottled tea, various pouches of Capri-Sun and LOTS of water. By the time we were done there were 2 bottles of tea and about 20oz of juice remaining. I had to keep calling my kids to the side and making them drink, as they are not old enough yet to be responsible for their own health. And something I was grateful for out there, but in hindsight writing this in air conditioning, was that as a survival situation, Ice is just stupid. I mean seriously! If we had to bug out of our homes so far out that we were living in the woods, there certainly would not be someplace where we could get ice. At least not for the first few days of a crisis. If anyone went through Katrina or Haiti, please let me know how long it was before fresh water and ice became available.

Too much Crap.
We were only there for a few hours, and yet it took three trips to the vehicle to get all of the comfort crap out. My friend who was camping overnight, with three kids (one being an infant) and his wife, had two tents, one or two folding chairs, and STILL managed to keep it down to (maybe) six trips to his vehicle. One the other hand, I was humping everything by hand, except for the Ice chest, which had wheels. He on the other had was using his baby’s stroller to maximize his carrying capacity. I know for a fact that if it were just me I could have had everything I needed for an overnight loaded into a single backpack (or pack-pack as my kids call them) so, add kids and elderly, and significantly increase the amount of crap you will need. No, you won’t need most of it, but like a teddy bear, some of it is just comfort items that make people happy that it’s there, whether useful or not, or used or not.

Cooking. To start our fire we used my little film can of tinder. This is a mulching of cotton balls, dryer lint and Vaseline. Several of us had heard of using petroleum jelly, but this was our first use of it. It took two(2) strikes with flint and steel, and WHOSH! we had fire. This works! What we didn't do properly was permit sufficient air flow in the kindling to get the fire burning properly. A little adjustment and it all worked fine. Also, having the basic BBQ tools are essential. The wire scrubby pad, tongs, and spatula are a minimum.

Bug/Sunscreen Spray. Something I learned the funny way. Spray on sunscreens and bug sprays are great for what they are, but, if you use them on kids in a dirt environment, you children will become mud monsters. The spray is like a dirt magnet, which of course increases the power of children’s natural dirt magnetism. I suppose as a parent, I should have been horrified by the amount of dirt suddenly coating every exposed surface of my 3 year old, but, as a survivalist, I figured that the dirt would probably act as a block for both sun and bugs, and she is always happiest covered in dirt anyway. If you all think I’m wrong, put a post in and please explain why, and as always, I prefer real world knowledge to something you read.

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