Friday, August 17, 2012

This week at work: survival training

On Wednesday, there was a wilderness survival workshop at the Palisades Centre here in Jasper, so, of course, I jumped at the opportunity to both take part and cover it for the paper.

Part of the workshop was learning to use a compass and a map. For me, I think that was probably the most valuable part of the day. I am the worst for taking, giving or figuring out directions. I don't generally know where North is or what the East side of town means and I definitely don't remember landmarks. I'm basically the most oblivious person on the planet. I blame that on growing up in a small town where no one paid any attention to street names. If you wanted to get somewhere, you'd say, "It's three doors down from Jimmy. You know, across the street from Samantha." There was no, "It's on the East side of town, at the foot of such and such mountain on such and such street." Nope. Never happened. 

On top of learning how to navigate, we also learned how to make a fire. Well, some people did. I already had that shit down. I was a Girl Guide after all. Our challenge was to light a fire that would burn for at least three minutes, using just one match. I nailed it! No big deal.

The last thing we did was make a shelter using sticks and an emergency blanket - something that should be in your survival kit. Oh! By the way, we also learned what you should have in your kit, AND we found out that you should always have it on your person, not in your pack! News to me. All this time, I've been carrying all of my survival gear - like my chapstick, my brush and my makeup - in my backpack. What was I thinking!? I kid. I did discover, though, that, although my survival kit isn't made up of concealer and blush, it is still totally insufficient. I guess a few Bandaids,  a book of matches, a can of bear spray and a raincoat aren't really going to get me very far if I get lost, stranded or injured somewhere.

So, this is what I learned:

a) write a pack list
b) pack a survival kit that corresponds with the activity I'm doing and keep it in my jacket or pants pocket
c) always tell someone where I'm going before I go and tell them when I can be expected back
d) don't hike alone (I'm still going to break that rule)
e) stick to the plan - if you say you're going somewhere, go there and not another place
f) know when to keep moving and when to stay put
g) always take the co-ordinates of where I start and where I want to go
h) stay together as a group
i) don't let my ego get the best of me
j) never think "It couldn't happen to me."
k) my gear is only as good as my knowledge how to use it
l) my body can last 3-5 minutes without oxygen, 3-5 days without water and 3-5 weeks without food
m) check the weather report before going out
n)  chill the ef out and try to keep calm

Do you think you could survive in the wilderness? Have you had any scary experiences getting lost or trapped somewhere?


  1. Oh my goodness this looks like so much fun and informative! I would love to do something like that.

  2. Looks fun! I would be total crap at surviving in the woods. Doubt that will ever change, but I can envy your skills from afar! My survival plan will just have to include staying as far away from the woods as possible. I'm sure you remember how great I was on that nature walk we went on a few years ago..

  3. What fun! For the past couple of summers the boys & I joined an Orienteering group in town. Lots of topographical map reading, which is dang tough!

    And I totally agree with you about starting fires being easy peasy. I don't know if I learned that from Girl Scouts or Dad.

  4. so amazing! k and i went through a period of time of watching only survival shows. and i would joke that my "survival pack" in my car would consist of: bottled water (smart), a blanket (smart), hohos (probably not smart), fritos (again probably not smart), a knife (smart) and a flare gun (pretty smart right?)

    i will be randomly doing something and i will rattle off what my survival pack for that day would consist of. but if it came down to it - no i would not be able to survive. i am horrible at making fires. i can't cook. i don't like dirt and bugs. and i've never once slept outside. i think i can count on one hand the amount of times i've actually sat on the ground. i'm definitely not an outdoors girl. but in theory i think it would be fun. but no - sleeping outside with bugs and random animals that may or may not want to eat me..not for me.

  5. Wow, really cool. It just reminds me how I was going to this for a living once upon a time! Sort of. I was gonna be a Wildlife Biologist and survival classes were a key element. Then, I discovered that I hate Biology, haha. But either way, I still wish I could take a class like that. Lucky! :)

  6. Kudos to you, I definitely don't think I'd pick these things up easily--my sense of direction is terrible! I can't tell you how many airports I've gotten lost in...not to mention the streets of my own town haha! Maybe I should check into a class like this....


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