Updated: Jun 8, 2018
It is easy to get bogged down with research when you are interested in learning all there is to know about survival in a wilderness or urban setting. There are so many books to read, programs to watch, programs to listen to, and Pinterest Pins to study, it can seem like an endless information gathering process. Then you start investing in go-bags, knives, guns, supplies for the home, the list goes on and on. It can seem like an endless expenditure just preparing for an event that may never even happen in our lifetimes. All this research and financial investment in supplies can take up a lot of your time and money. While all those supplies and information can be extremely relevant, there comes a time when you must put it aside, get out there and start practicing what you have been learning. You need to test that gear in the real world and see how efficiently it is going to work.
Personally, I am blessed with living on a big piece of property in the mountains. We can practice shooting with guns or bows, wild foraging, shelter building, etc all from the comfort of our own property. We live the life with a huge garden that we can for the year from and animals that we butcher to fill our freezers but this is not case for many of you.
Even with all the benefits of a country life, we still find time to get out into a truly wilderness setting to do additional practice. There is something about sleeping in your bivvy sacks and using a trench for a toilet that really drives home the reality of living in the wilderness if you had to. So I am encouraging each and everyone of you to plan your summer trip, get out there and practice!
If you are lucky enough to be financially stable enough to attend a trip that is hosted by a survival expert, I strongly suggest you go, at least once. Many of these people are a wealth of information. Especially when it comes to difficult things like plant identification, which is hard to do if you only have a book and an educated guess. Usually these survivalists put together a great program that keeps your group busy and learning the whole time.
If you have already spent all your money on supplies or life and can't afford to go on one of these outings, don't despair, that's why you've been doing all that research, right? There are a few key things to planning your own survival vacation that you need to consider though. First of all think of the group you will be bringing: Do certain people excel at various tasks? Put them in charge of teaching the group that activity. Second of all you have to properly organize: What are the activities you want to focus on? Make a list and print out cheat sheets for yourself and the group on these items. Put them in order of importance so you make sure you get to the things you really want to practice. Make sure you pack food, maybe you could try out that dutch oven recipe you have saved and wanted to do, but try to have at least one meal that is all things you have foraged so you can really experience what eating and surviving in the wild means. Properly organizing your team and your activities will lead you to an action packed weekend of learning. Don't forget to have fun!
Here is a short list of activities that are great to practice on a weekend getaway. This is just to get you thinking. Get out your books and your Pinterest Pins and make your own list that is relevant for your group and your landscape.
Navigating with a compass - maybe plan a sort of scavenger hunt for your team.
Starting a fire with various methods - there are so many ways to make a fire happen, don't just wimp out and use a lighter, really try the different ideas. You will be surprised how easy some are and how down right difficult others are.
Building a debris shelter - all the books and videos make this look so easy but have you really tried to do it yourself? It's not as easy as it looks and it's probably a good idea to have it figured out before your life and that of your family depends on it.
Self defense practice - be careful with your partners! Practice is the only way to hone these techniques and, again, wouldn't it be better to be comfortable with the technique before your life is on the line.
Water Purification Methods - As with fire making there are so many ideas out there. Get three or four ideas that you really want to test out and see how they work. How is it to really drink from a puddle with a lifestraw. Try it!
Ditch Medicine - try to make splints and have people walk around in them. Did they hold? How comfortable would they be? Did it make the problem worse?
How to tell the weather - try to predict from your survival manuals what tomorrow's weather will be. Write it down and see what tomorrow brings. Were you right? What things did you notice ex) bird movement, animal signs, etc.
Create Natural Camouflage - Use mud and oil to do your camo instead of makeup from a kit. Be careful what plants you use! Some may give you a skin rash or not wash off very easily. You don't want to go to work on Monday looking like a green smurf.
Wild Foraging - Make sure you know the plant is safe to eat. Bring your field guide and try to identify at least three plants that you don't know.
Knot tying - always a great activity in your down time, while sitting around the fire. Give everyone a piece of paracord and practice.
Now that you have some ideas, find some more and GET OUT THERE!