SIOUX CITY | Teagan Meyer may have been sitting inside a structure made entirely out of twigs and tree limbs, but the 8-year-old North Sioux City girl said she felt pretty comfortable on a cold winter day.
"You can't feel the wind underneath these sticks," she said. "That makes it nice."
Teagan was one of several kids learning to survive the winter elements during a class held at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.
"Even someone with plenty of experience can become disoriented in cold, treacherous conditions," naturalist Tyler Flammang, the instructor of the class, explained. "With some found objects, a person can create his own makeshift shelter."
That is if the person comes equipped with what Flammang calls his "E.D.C."
"It stands for my Every Day Carry, the stuff I take with me on a daily basis," he said. "At a bare minimum, that can include a paracord, a knife and a lighter. But it can also include tarps, blankets, even food items."
This is common sense for an experienced outdoors man like Flammang.
"I love to go kayaking in the summertime but I make sure to tell people when I go," he noted. "If they don't hear from me, they'll know I'm in trouble."
Keeping connected to family and friends is even more important during the winter.
"You do not want to be alone in the middle of nowhere in frigid conditions," Flammang warned.
But if you do find yourself in danger, a shelter may keep you safe for a while.
Flammang said a good shelter can protect you from the elements, be easily built to conserve energy as well as being adequately ventilated.
A budding naturalist in the making, Liam Wilson dragged a cut pine tree that will act as the roof for the shelter.
"I love being outside in the winter," the 9-year-old Sioux City boy said. "It gets really annoying to be inside all of the time."
Carter Klene, 4, of Sioux City, nodded his head in agreement.
"I like going camping with my family," he said. "I don't even mind the cold weather."
While Liam and Carter were concentrating on large limbs and trunks, Carter's 9-year-old sister Mya Klene was snapping twigs that will line the bottom of the shelter.
"Nobody wants to sit on top on snow," Mya said. "That's why having a blanket or, at least, twigs and leaves can keep you warm and dry."
Obviously, it was Teagan Meyer who benefited from Mya's attention to detail.
"I like this place," Teagan said, inside her pine tree-lined hut. "I'd rather be here than outside in the cold."
Even though Liam took this survival class to stay active, he actually learned something.
"When I heard we'd be building shelters out of sticks and stuff, I thought the class would be boring," he admitted. "Actually, this turned out to be a lot of fun."
Would Liam ever again try to build a tent in the middle of the woods in the dead of winter again?
"Nope," he said without any hesitation. "But at least now, I'll know how to do it."