Hello Girl Campers. I would like to talk about Situational Awareness. Put simply, this means being aware of your surroundings and listening to the little voice in your head that alerts you when something or someone is not right. But first, we must acknowledge that life is not all unicorns and rainbows.

Lately, the news has been filled with unfortunate reports of campers and hikers being involved in dangerous situations. Some survived; sadly, some did not.  A perfect example is the couple that was recently killed in Canada. Before you click me off as a fear- monger, understand that this couple was happy and having the time of their lives traveling in a beautiful country. Their situation is not unique.

There are some easy to learn methods that you can include in your daily lives whether you are in your neighborhood or boondocking in the many beautiful parts of our great country. This doesn’t mean you have to be paranoid or scared. Just be aware with a healthy dose of common sense. Small changes in the way we move through our travels can keep you safer.

As a rule, the bad apples in our society are opportunist. Translation: they’re looking for the person who is walking through the parking lot looking at their cell phone, not paying attention to the people or cars around them. The simple fix for this is to put the cell away, (the info will be there later), look alert, and scan your surroundings. Walk past your rig, walk around it, unlock your door, get in quickly, immediately lock your door, and leave. The longer you dawdle in that parking lot, the more time you give the bad guy or girl to get to you. Our society sees women traveling on their own as an easy target, especially if we are gray haired, mature (like me), walking a little slower…maybe even wondering around the parking lot, because we’ve forgotten where our car is. Walk tall, with purpose, and keep looking around. This greatly decreases your chances of becoming a victim.

In every community there are programs that can help you become more savvy and safer. I teach a seminar called “Refuse to be a Victim” I normally start by passing out 20 pictures to the people in the room. I ask them to tell me who they think is a bad guy or gal. There are pics of couples on their wedding day, teachers, military, smiling housewives, teenagers…all smiling. Every single one of these people are murderers. Unfortunately, the bad people do not come with labels on their foreheads saying “I’m a bad guy”.

Awareness seminars are offered through your local law enforcement departments. Go to one, for no other reason than to gain additional information that will keep you safer. You will learn techniques that you might already know, and many you don’t.  All are simple but very effective.

In the meantime, do the simple things. Put out 2 chairs at your campsite, and a pair of size-16 worn out men’s hiking boots by the door can’t hurt either. Put out a water bowl that a small dog could swim in and add a huge chew bone. If you’re not actually traveling with a dog run over the bone to give it that used look. Get a recording of a mean dog barking and growling. There are apps for that…really!

The object of my articles is to keep you safe as you have fun in your everyday life, and on your journeys and camping adventures. I look forward to hearing from you. Have fun and be safe out there!

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