Hug A Tree Program

Santa Clara County Sheriff Search and Rescue participates in Hug-a-Tree, a national educational program to teach children basic survival techniques should they become lost. Many children are at great risk of dying before we can find them, as was the case in the search for 9-year-old Jimmy Beveridge in San Diego County. This Hug-a-Tree program was developed by a tracker, Ab Taylor, in 1981 after a disheartening search for him when his brothers returned to their campsite without him. After a 400-person search for him, Jimmy was found 3 days later about 2 miles from the campground; he had died of hypothermia. The Hug-a-Tree program has since been used to train thousands of children, their siblings and parents across the U. S. and has been translated and expanded into other countries.

This 25 to 40 minute interactive Hug-a-Tree program was designed to teach children 5 to 12 years of age some basic tenets of survival and of facilitating our finding them, the primary message being, If you are lost, stay put — hug-a-tree — until help arrives. Trained SAR team members show a video of a young boy who wanders away from his family’s picnic area, running further and further away in an attempt to find his family. Children are then asked to demonstrate ways to stay put, stay warm, and signal for help while conserving energy (e.g. using a whistle instead of constantly yelling for help) until we can find them.

The program has been taught successfully in schools, scouts, churches, parks and recreation, and camp activities.

We welcome the opportunity to teach your children these critical, and easy-to-remember tips for survival.

Please contact us at: or (408)450-3100 for more information.

Some success stories from the Hug-A-Tree program:

Nevada County, CA: 4-year-old Eli became lost while on a walk with his mother. He was found after a 23-hour search. He had seen Hug-a-Tree four months earlier at this brothers Cub Scout pack meeting. His first words to his rescuers were, ‘What took you so long?’

Shenandoah National Park, VA: 10-year-old Shawn stayed put as soon as he realized he was lost. He was found a short time later by members of his hiking party. Shawn told searchers that he had decided to stop walking so he ‘wouldn’t get more lost.’ He had seen Hug-a-Tree at school.