I’m a Cub Scout leader, and from the youngest age we teach our scouts the SAW method if they were to get lost while on an adventure:

  • Stay put
  • Answer when your name is called
  • Whistle – use it!

This of course requires the scouts to each have a whistle, which is one of the scouting essentials. But recently, since the pandemic started, we’ve been having our den and pack meetings in a state park campground near our normal base of operations. Sometimes, depending on the time of year, it can get quite dark while these meetings are underway. One of my fellow leaders had the genius idea of clipping a glowing LED light to each of her scouts to help them stand out in the dark woods while the meetings are underway.

Nite Ize SpotLit Collar LED light with emergency whistle
The whistle and light combo I made for my kids, to help keep them safe while camping – especially at night

I have since applied her idea and the whistle to my personal camping adventures with my kids. Just last week, I took my two oldest kids (six and four years old) backpacking and gave them each their own whistle and an LED light so that they don’t get lost at night – we were hanging out pretty late trying to catch lightning bugs at our camp site.

Just like I give to my scouts, for this backpacking trip I gave each of my kids these basic emergency whistles on a lanyard. These whistles are pretty loud – requiring my kids to keep the whistles around their neck for the duration of our trip helped me rest assured that were they to get lost from me, they would be able to blow their whistle for me (or anyone else helping me) find them. There’s nothing fancy about these whistles, but if you want to go even louder for a few more dollars you can get the Storm Safety Whistle. Advertised as the world’s loudest outdoor safety whistle, I keep one of these in my hiking backpack and will also bring it along if I’m ever out boating.

In addition to the whistles, I also gave each of my kids their own LED light. Specifically, I got them each one of these Nite Ize SpotLit LED Collar Lights. I went with red because it was one of the cheapest options and it really stands out at night. Yes, these are designed for dog collars but they work great. These boast a 20 hour continuous battery life, so they will continue to shine through the night for your little one if they got lost. There are two modes – a solid light and a flashing light. When my kids were running around catching lightning bugs and walking to and from the campground bathroom, I had them use the flashing mode. The battery lasts longest on the flashing mode, according to Nite Ize.

I used the GEAR AID 550 Reflective Paracord to create necklaces for my kids to wear the LED lights around their necks. This paracord is both durable and provides an additional reflective element to help find a lost kid at night, assuming you have a flashlight to look for them in the woods.

This package – the emergency whistle on a lanyard plus the LED light on the reflective paracord – gives me peace of mind that should my kids get lost on a backpacking / camping trip, they would have useful tools to help myself or a search and rescue team find them. For not much money, you can also share this peace of mind by equipping your kids with a whistle and LED light while camping. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!

Do you have other ideas to keep your kids safe at night? I’d love to hear them, comment below!