By Sgt. Brandon Welsh, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Public AffairsJuly 10, 2017
Green Berets from 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), volunteered to help children impacted by cancer with Camp Goodtimes on Vashon Island, Washington, from June 26-30.
During the week the Soldiers showed the children how to survive in the wilderness by teaching them how to build shelters, start fires, and administer first aid.
"The kids loved having the Soldiers out here and showing them that they can do anything," said camp director Tanya Krohn. "Hopefully when they grow up they can be able to take care of themselves as young adults with these skills."
The children were very attentive while being taught how to build shelters and techniques for staying warm. The Green Berets built what looked like a small studio apartment out in the woods using branches and sticks they found.
The children helped the Green Berets tie them together with parachute rigging chord. Together, they made a roof with a space blanket. The Soldiers explained the space blanket would protect them from rain, and when they had a fire built, the fire would radiate heat off the blanket to the ground.
Jordan, a Special Forces Team Sergeant, said that instilling a sense of resiliency was fulfilling.
"We showed them that even though they may be different to other people, they can still survive out here if they need to," he said. "The effects of the chemo therapy didn't stop them from being kids and playing around."
The Green Berets also taught the children how to build a bed that would keep them off the ground with sticks and vines to hold it together, in case they were stranded for a long period of time. They explained that using Douglas fir branches as bedding maintains body temperature during cold nights.
One of the team members made special time for a blind child, teaching her that wet moss wouldn't be able to start a fire, and helping her feel her way around the forest to camp more successfully.
Earlier in the week, 1st SFG (A) medics showed the children how to perform first aid in case they were injured while hiking or stranded. They were shown how to make splints and take care of cuts or other injuries that could become infected if not taken care of.
"The last thing we want is for them to have this survival knowledge and not know how to take care of an injury in the likely event that someone gets injured," Jordan said.
The support for the Green Berets from the camp was overwhelming, as the counselors were constantly thanking the Soldiers and asking about their service, said Jordan.
"They worked really well with the kids, speaking very clearly to describe everything so the kids could understand," said Emily Huston, one of the camp counselors. "The Green Berets helped out tremendously with all the kids. The smiles on their faces will not go away."