I know it’s hard to imagine, but it really won’t be TOO long before the bears start appearing again, hungry and grumpy. Maybe it’s why I like winter so much – the hibernation (or at least mostly!) of bears….
But, in all seriousness, bears ARE something not to be taken lightly. I fully believe in teaching kids bear safety from a very young age too. I figure if they hear it enough, something will sink in eventually!
We literally had a bear right next to our tent (where the baby was hanging out by herself – GAH!) a couple years ago.…which was a really good test for me too. Thankfully, the bear was harmless, but it was a HUGE eye-opener to me as to what we needed to do better.
Here’s a list of quick tips. Save this and review it with your kids often. I also showed this video to my kids.….sort of as a scare tactic, but it’s reality! Be sure you watch it too!
Keep kids close.
It’s easy to get comfortable on trails you know and frequent often….but that doesn’t mean a bear WON’T be there this time! #BearDon’tCare how much you “own” that trail!
Make HUMAN noise.
Bear bells, etc. are great, but human noise is the most effective so bears know you are not just another animal. Just let kids sing their little hearts out!
Travel in groups and stay together.
Attacks on groups of three or more are rare.
Keep a clean camp.
Wash dishes and surfaces, and keep kid messes contained as much as possible. When we’re doing front country camping (cabin and campers included), we usually have Dawn Dish soap with us (does a great job cleaning up serious smells, is biodegradable and is cheaper), but Camp Suds, for no-scent backcountry trips when we’re really concerned. It’s all about Leaving No Trace as much as possible! Use bear boxes and keep trash out of camp every. single. time.
NOTE: Using a very small amount of soap AND disposing of dirty dishwater correctly (broadcasted – throw it far and wide – as far away from camp as possible and at least 200 yards from any water source) is essential, especially in bear country.
Be aware and alert.
Don’t be plugged in to headphones, etc. Watch for sign of bears (scat, etc.) and be listening. Take a look around you often to make sure you’re not missing seeing a bear that may be far away or approaching.
DO NOT RUN.
And teach kids that practice again and again and again. Role-playing is particularly helpful every single time you go out. This is a big one!
Carry Bear Spray AND know how to use it.
As you saw in the video above, one canister is not enough to have. Be sure they aren’t expired, you have a few of them ready and they’re in holsters ready to go. Teach your kids that it is a weapon and is to be treated with respect. Attend a bear safety event if possible so kids can use trainer canisters (and you too!) to know how it feels to use it on a bear. Often Kids Fishing Day events will have that available if you have one locally.
Big thanks to Pat Wells for the great bear photos.
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