After last year’s dramatic rescue of a family lost in Kakiat Park on the evening of Shviei Shel Pesach which followed another rescue involving six bucherim from New Square lost in Kakiat Park, Chaverim of Rockland’s hiking group of trained experts continues to expand its ranks. The new additions to Chaverim of Rockland’s hiking group met for the first training session shortly before Pesach. The group of Chaverim members climbed the trails at Kakiat Park for an initial two mile hike with picture-perfect weather conditions.
The fourteen newly enrolled hikers will meet regularly to build up their hiking skills and will eventually join Chaverim’s present seasoned twenty-five member team which has been activated for emergencies in the past.
The training consists of hikes averaging three hours in length as well as classroom, and other types of equipment training. Given that one of the many benefits of living in Rockland County is the vast array of wooded parks and endless acres of forest nearby, a group of this sort is essential to all that is Chaverim. This is because Rockland is also a place where hikers get lost, confused, stranded in the dark or even injured. So forest search and rescues are a logical and inevitable part of Chaverim’s nature given how often search and rescues can be hampered by challenged such as darkness, temperature, rain and steep terrain.
Participants become familiar with reading trail maps, nighttime hiking, and the use of proper shoes, gear and equipment needed, and above they learn to recognize their own limitations and abilities.
Training takes place weekly which allows plenty of opportunities for members to participate. Each individual is expected to participate at least eight times annually although more practice is encouraged to raise skill levels and participation amounts determine member’s ability when it comes to leading or partaking in actual operations.