Laura and Ken Welte
Laura and Ken Welte

For those who are eager to get outdoors for a springtime adventure, Ken and Laura Welte of Sutton Group – West Coast Realty in Nanaimo, B.C. have some tips that could save a life. Through their volunteer work with the Ladysmith Ground Search and Rescue, they have helped rescue lost and injured hikers. Laura, an executive assistant at the brokerage, is certified in AdventureSmart and PaddleSmart.

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Recently she took her expertise international. Via a Zoom session, she taught more than a dozen Scottish girls in the 17th Dunfermline Brownies the methods to stay alive if they get lost in the wilderness.

“I hosted the Zoom call in my living room with props to show how to build a shelter with emergency blankets and make a nest to stay warm and dry,” says Laura. “All of the kids had their own little blankets so they could follow along and learn. This AdventureSmart Hug-a-Tree training includes a video re-enactment of a child who goes camping with his family, wanders off and gets lost. In the Zoom meeting, the girls, who were all 8- and 9-years-old, discussed what the child in the video did right and wrong after getting lost. At the end, I told them a bit about our search and rescue kits and how searches work. It went really well.”

Laura was born in Scotland and her sister volunteers with the Brownies of the United Kingdom. The call was good practice for Laura and Ken’s upcoming work in B.C.

As the weather warms up, they expect to be hosting more Hug-a-Tree training sessions for children up to age 12.

“We make it fun for the kids as we teach them to make a nest using branches and leaves at the bottom of the nearest tree, make a shelter out of whatever they might have – you can even use your jacket and tuck your knees up into it – and stay put,” says Laura. “At the end we give them a little package containing a silver emergency blanket and a whistle. Those are the two things they can put in their pocket for anytime they are outdoors.”

The Weltes recommend that before you go on your own wilderness adventure, download the free AdventureSmart app. Ken says the app makes it easy to let people know where you are going and when you’ll be back. If you don’t return on time, it will automatically notify your emergency contacts.


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