Monday, July 19, 2010

FOG-Kids Workshop on Survival Skills

A workshop on Survival Skills for kids members of the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka was held at the Mirigama scout camp from 19th-20th of June 2010. Eleven FOG kids were accompanied by five parents along with five FOGSL staff members. This was the first trip where kids spent a night out as all other fog-kids trips were one-day trips.

The participants were told to gather at the Fort Railway Station at six ‘o’clock on the 19th morning to catch the train to Mirigama. The participants were picked up from the Mirigama station and taken to the scout camp.

Upon arriving at the camp everyone refreshed themselves with a drink of ‘thambili’. After refreshments, a brief introduction to the workshop was given and the children were divided into two groups. Each of these groups appointed a member to lead the group. After this the participants were taught how to clean the camp grounds with the use of jungle material and how to set up tents. Each group were to set up one tent each. As there were no carpets to prevent sand getting inside the tents, a smart boy collected dead Jak leaves and put them together with sticks in order to make a makeshift carpet.

By now the tired children were quite hungry and everyone tucked into rice packets bought along the way. After everyone had filled their stomachs with lunch the eager kids were briefed about the survival skills. The children were taught the importance of staying together to avoid getting lost, how to tie different types of knots, first aid and how to light a fire using a magnifying glass, using stones and using wood.

After lighting a fire, the participants had the opportunity to fry a fish over the fire. A fish which had been purchased from the town was wrapped in Jak leaves and put over the fire. While the fish was being cooked, the members learnt how to find direction with the use of a needle. A bowl was filled with water and when the needle was put into it the side with the eye of the needle turned towards the north. Most of us had never known how to find directions using just a needle and a bowl of water.

One of the most important aspects of survival is having enough water to drink. A bowl of water was filled, covered with foil and a stone placed over it. This bowl was then buried in the soil. After a few hours water droplets begin to form on the foil and this water can be used to drink.

Participants were then taught how to clean and eat raw sweet potatoes by cleaning them with a penknife.

At dinner time the one of the groups were given the task of making noodles and the other group were to make sandwiches. The parents were not allowed to help the children and all the work was done by the children themselves. It was very nice to see these young kids working as a team in order to get the job done. The prepared dinner was taken to the campfire and everyone enjoyed the dinner cooked by the children.

The next morning everyone was up early to go on an early morning walk. Common birds such as the Myna and Red-vented Bulbul were observed. The children were also taught how to find a footpath if ever they got lost in the jungle. After arriving back at camp, breakfast which had been made by the parents was eaten and the kids had a break and played card games with each other.

Soon after lunch it was time to leave and all the participating FOG kids were given a gift each.

This workshop was a great experience for the kids and the parents as well and no doubt it everyone who participated benefited from this workshop.

Reported by: Asitha Samarawickrema

Kids: Kalindu Premarathne, Minandi Wilathgamuwa, Jayath Manura, Thusith Venura, Senuja Weerasinghe, Thilina Weerasinghe, Savindu Weerasinghe, Thenusha Jayathilake, Maneesha Jayathilake, Vinuja Weerasooriya, Namesha Perera
Parents: Mrs. D.H.N. Wijeratne, Mrs. Karini Kathriarachchi, Mrs. R.D. Ranawaka Arachchi, Mrs. Chandima Weerasinghe, Mrs. Sunethra Jayathilake
fogsl Staff: Mr. Upul Wickremasinghe, Mr. Susantha De Silva, Mr. Chaminda Rathnayake, Mrs. Shamila Corea, Ms. Shyama Weerakulasuriya

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