“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most responsive to change.”
I just love it when I have the opportunity to get kids outdoors. During the last few weeks I have had an awesome time co-teaching a 5 week wilderness survival course for middle schoolers. It was especially rewarding because along with the survival course, the group read the book Hatchet by one of my favorite authors Gary Paulsen. The book Hatchet recounts the tale of Brian, the main character through his raw survival alone in the Canadian Wilderness after a small plane crash. It is a must read for all who appreciate the wilderness!
The focus of the class was to learn very basic survivor skills to use when things go bad in the outdoors. The kids put together a survivor kit and learned about topics such as: shelter, terrain, fire, signaling for help, finding direction, weather, observation, and basic first-aid. The main curriculum resources we used along with our own personal knowledge was the website Equipped to Survive and video series Survival Basics I & II: The Adventure featuring Ron Hood. Each week we introduced new skills with hands-on-activities.
As a culmination on our last day together we met in a isolated canyon to put into practice what we had learned. The kids were divided into small groups and given a fictitious scenario to act out with the knowledge that help would come within a day. What was so cool is just as we were beginning the hike into the canyon a cold front and fog rolled in. Really! I was lovin’ it.
This is an example of one of the scenarios the kids worked out:
Late in the afternoon on blustery fall day you and your friends are hanging out and decide to go on a quick hike to scope out a great place to build a fort. After walking for an hour or so you notice the temperature dropping, fog is rolling in, and on top of that thunder can be heard in the distance. Most of your group is wanting to go back because it is getting dark and there is a storm moving in quickly. But in the process of turning around two buddies get tangled up and fall down a 10 foot drop off. One friend is bleeding severely from a cut on the forehead and has a twisted ankle and is starting to turn very white. The other friend’s leg appears crooked and his shoulder is hurting. As the rest of the group is rushing to help, you notice that the dense fog has made it impossible to know which direction to go home for help.
I was very proud and pleased that the groups worked together, pooled the resources they brought in their backpacks, along with the natural resources in the environment to administer first-aid, comfort, and finally to find shelter for protection to stay put and wait for help. It was a great day.