Camping is the most popular disaster preparedness activity right now.
  • 災害発生前
  • デザイン
  • NPO Plus Arts
  • Red Bear Survival Camp Club
  • Red Bear Survival Camp

A very popular hands-on program on ropework

Learning disaster survival skills
through camping

In October 2011, NPO Plus Arts held the Red Bear Survival Camp for two days and one night at Kobe City Shizennoie, and was attended by 17 families comprising 60 people. They took an emergency aid course, learned practical skills on ropework and participated in workshops where they created shelters using cardboard boxes and plastic sheets. The purpose of the camp was not for participants to enjoy nature with their family members, but that they acquire survival skills to live through a disaster as its name suggests.

Iza! Kaeru Caravan!, a disaster drill program organized by NPO Plus Arts, provides supportive measures in emergency situations, such as providing skills and knowledge on how to carry injured people and fight fires. However, considering that approximately 0.47 million people evacuated to around 2,000 shelters when the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, staff members of NPO Plus Arts realized that merely acquiring these skills and knowledge was insufficient to live in an unforgiving environment like a shelter. They considered how they could help people develop the skills required to live through a disaster, and decided that their key word would be “camp”.

Outdoor skills can be applied as survival skills during a disaster. In addition, participants in camps can more clearly imagine the lives of evacuees at camp sites, where they have to live with limited resources and in a difficult environment.

The Red Bear Survival Camp, which aims to develop resilience, creativity and imagination, has been held every autumn in Kobe since 2011 and in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, since 2012. This camp program is being introduced gradually throughout Japan.

  • Making a water filter using a plastic bottle
  • Creating a hammock using ropes
  • Cooking dinner over a real fire is a rare experience for most Japanese
  • A father and a child erecting a tent
  • Lanterns made of empty cans, which gently illuminate outside and require no electricity

Supporting communities so the activity takes root and grows sustainably

The Red Bear Survival Camp is held in various areas throughout Japan, reflecting the thoughts of organizers and issues concerning disaster preparedness in individual areas.

For instance, in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, residents were forced to live inconvenient lives due to water shortages after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Workshops related to the transportation of water were designed together with residents and incorporated into the Red Bear Survival Camp program.

In Okayama City, high school students who had listened to the speech of Hirokazu Nagata, Chairman of NPO Plus Arts, requested to hold a camp at their school festival. The camp, which is usually conducted over two days and one night, was arranged into a day camp, in which high school students played the role of lecturers to teach survival skills to children who attended their school festival.

To help disaster prevention activities take root and grow sustainably in local communities, NPO Plus Arts thinks it important not only to provide systems and know-how but also to consider local issues with residents and create programs that reflect their thoughts. This policy is incorporated into the Red Bear Survival Camp, as is the case with Iza! Kaeru Caravan!.

  • Red Bear Survival Camp held in Iwaki City, which newly incorporated a relay race where buckets of water are passed from one to another

New disaster preparedness activities whose creators and promoters are local residents

As is the case with the Iza! Kaeru Caravan! program, which includes a system where children can exchange their toys for other toys, the Red Bear Survival Camp uses a tactic to arouse children’s interest. When they master survival skills in individual programs, they can obtain original can badges designed by art director, Bunpei Yorifuji. More than 40 types of badges, which mainly consist of “skill badges”, are prepared for the programs.

This badge system, which promotes children’s willingness to join the programs, was designed and based on the idea of a participant in the + Creative Seminar organized by Design and Creative Center Kobe and taught by Hirokazu Nagata.

The plan for the Red Bear Survival Camp has been developed as a challenge in the + Creative Seminar, which began in May 2011. Currently, members of the Red Bear Survival Camp Club, which comprises mainly participants of the seminar, students and working adults, gather every Thursday to draw up plans and make preparations for the camps and events held in autumn.

One of the founding members of the club said that he was very pleased to join the Red Bear Survival Camp project, because he could not only reflect the experiences of disaster survivors of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in programs, but also share these experiences with the younger people who participate in the project. The Red Bear Survival Camp, for which residents create and develop disaster prevention programs, has the potential to become a new model for how residents conduct disaster prevention activities.


  • Skill badges proudly attached to the clothes of a child
  • Shelter group members of Red Bear Survival Camp Club making a trial model of shelters using cardboard boxes
  • A variety of people, such as students, working adults and housewives, gathering for discussion
  • Demonstration camp conducted prior to an actual camp. Members actually try out programs that have been discussed every Thursday