Search and Rescue

My 14-year-old son is gone this weekend for Search and Rescue training in land navigation, search exercises, high-line exercises and rappelling.  Yes, I said rappelling.  No, I’m not worried and I’ll share why later.  I don’t know about you but I have never thought much about my local Search and Rescue teams.  Maybe the reason is because I have been fortunate enough that my family has not needed to be searched for or rescued and maybe your reasoning is the same but there’s more to this group of silent heroes then we know.  There are many groups involved in different areas of Search and Rescue but I want to talk about the ones who are civilian volunteers.

About 8 months ago my son came to me asking excitingly to join the Dirigo Search and Rescue Youth Division after the director had visited his school and gave the kids info about it.  Trying to be a mom that doesn’t say no to everything but also trying to be realistic, I told him I would look over the info and discuss it with his dad.  This was the first time I had heard my son be excited about something besides video games and I was intrigued.  After a little research and attending the recruiting night, we said yes and we have not regretted that decision.


The civilian volunteers of Search and Rescue teams work with local and state law enforcement agencies.  They train and become certified in different areas so that when they are called to search or rescue someone they are prepared for any circumstance.  Their certifications and trainings include first aid, CPR, survival skills, navigation and different rescue scenarios and so much more.  It’s not just anyone coming to rescue you – these people are trained, carrying their ready packs and volunteering their time – they are not paid.  Similar to volunteer firefighters, Search and Rescue members leave schools and jobs to come help you.  They search, rescue and train in their own personal time, sacrificing their time away from family and friends – without being paid.  Matter of fact, Search and Rescue members pay out of their own pockets for their equipment and training.  They are at canoe races rescuing people from the water.  They are in the woods searching and rescuing people who are lost and hurt.  They are wherever they are needed.  They are there to help people…ANYTIME of the day or night.

Search and Rescue units provide a service at a time when you need it the most but they don’t usually get recognized for the time they put in and they are ok with that.  They don’t do it for the glory, they do it because they care.  There’s a shortage of youth and adults for Search and  Rescue teams…if this is something you think you or your kid (training for kids starts 8th grade and up) would like to do contact your local Search and Rescue unit, they would love to have you.  If this isn’t for you, that’s ok but thank them and support them financially (they have vehicles and equipment that need to be kept up with and replaced as needed).  We need to help keep this organization alive and well because it is needed.

I’ve watched my son learn real life skills that generally aren’t taught anymore (except for the boy scouts).  He has learned to tie different knots.  He has learned to build a fire (it is handy in the real world, not just in Survivor).  He has learned how to use a compass and a map (I don’t really know how to do that).  He is learning to rappell down the side of mountain (pretty cool)!  He is learning to work with a team.  All these things will help him to help you and in the process he’s becoming a more productive member of society.  His compassion is growing, he cares.  So…no, I’m not worried about him rappelling down the side of a mountain, he’s training and he’s becoming a better person that this world needs.  On those days when my patience seems thin because he “forgot” to do his homework, again, I step back and I’m thankful for the young man he’s becoming because he is going to make this world a better place.

Thank you Search and Rescue units for all that you do.  Special thanks to the Dirigo Search and Rescue Youth Division for giving my son direction and purpose.

From My Little Piece of Homestead,



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