Today I took the Wilderness Skills & Survival Clinic from Adventure Out here in Santa Cruz. I had been interested in the class for a long time and so when it came up on Groupon early last year, I snapped up the chance to get the opportunity to learn how to survive in the woods – for a discount! I like to camp, even by myself sometimes, but I’m not what you’d call outdoorsy. I have a serious lack of directional sense, and get lost with my navigation system, a GPS empowered cell phone and a glove box full of maps. (Yes, I still carry paper maps in my car because I am that paranoid about being lost.) It’s not like I have any serious plans to end up in the middle of the forest any time soon, but adding ancient skills to my collection of knowledge didn’t seem like a bad idea anyway.
As I was getting my stuff ready this morning, and we were gathering around waiting for everyone before hiking to the class site, I realized I was a little nervous. I think this class was just close enough to the edge of my comfort zone to make me a little anxious. I couldn’t put my finger on why until later when they handed me a big giant sharp knife and asked me to use a saw. I think the sharp things make me anxious. The “turn this square column of wood into a cylinder” part of the afternoon flashed that recently acquired helicopter insurance into my head. But I did it. In fact, I did it pretty confidently. Once I got started, I knew I had it. I had made all the parts of my bow drill fire kit and I was using it! We ran out of time right when I was finding my rhythm and starting to make a coal, but they let us take our kit home and I’m going to try practicing every day like he suggested until I get fire! I’m elated that I have started to learn this skill and that I made this fire kit:
I always used to say that I’m the chick they’d vote off the airplane on the way to start the taping of Survivor. I know that I wouldn’t make it to that pretty boat ride where everyone looks all clean and happy, they’d leave me on the dock. Today I feel a little less like that’s true. Maybe I am kind of outdoorsy? Before we even got the knives and started the fire kit, we spent the morning talking about single person debris shelters and building them in teams. The day also taught us about boiling water using rocks, creating a pot or other dishes out of logs using coals, and things we could eat in the forest. I’m super thankful for all this knowledge and think it’s crucial skills that human beings should learn and pass on so that we don’t lose. I don’t know if I am at a point in my existence on this planet that I’m going to purposely seek out activities where clubbing squirrels or eating grubs is even a small likelihood of happening. But, if my plane to Mexico crashes near some grass, I can totally tell everyone what part is good to eat.
I appreciated the attitude throughout the class that nature isn’t something to be feared. It’s not dangerous. It’s not “Man vs. Wild”. It’s just about being aware and understanding. I feel like I understand nature just a little bit better today. I don’t know if I’ll be rushing into Part 2 of the class where you do overnights, or where you talk about skinning things with sharp rocks. But I’m glad I know what I know after today and I really enjoyed being outside in the forest on a spring Sunday. What a neat thing to have done!