While it’s easy to learn many wilderness survival skills with friends, online or from a book, there are many reasons to take a formal course. Not only will you receive hands-on instruction from experts, but you will experience numerous opportunities to ask questions and learn more about life in the wilderness. Here are seven great reasons you won’t regret taking a wilderness survival course.
- Experts have experienced real-life outdoor scenarios.
Survival courses are run by experts who have encountered a wide variety of situations in the outdoors. Many instructors are also Search-and-Rescue experts, and some have spent weeks exploring and living off the grid in the backcountry.
These courses grant you the opportunity to ask lots of questions. Perhaps you’re curious about the probability of an avalanche in your local ski area, or maybe you want to know what summertime wilderness occurrences are most likely to lead to an emergency scenario. The instructors have experienced a variety of real-life outdoor situations and can help you build a realistic picture of life in the wild.
Wilderness survival course instructors can also help assuage irrational fears. By explaining and showing you what emergencies are most likely to occur, they help you avoid common causes of wilderness disaster and feel safer and more in control.
- You’ll learn valuable skills and be tested on them.
In a survival course, you’ll be taught a wide array of survival skills. This is different from learning skills from a book or video as you’ll have an instructor watching you, giving you tips, structuring practice sessions and helping you master survival techniques.
You’ll also be tested on each of your newfound skills, which can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses before heading into unfamiliar terrain. After the test, your instructors can give you tips on maintaining and improving your skills outside the course so you’ll be able to keep learning and growing in your knowledge, outdoor abilities and overall confidence.
- You’ll learn from the other participants.
When you attend a survival course, it is very likely the other participants have a similar mindset to you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Hearing the questions of other participants can help you consider different scenarios from new angles. A participant who grew up in another part of the country might help you ponder risks that arise from other weather patterns or wildlife ecosystems.
These courses also welcome a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts. While you might be an avid hiker, the person sitting next to you might love rock climbing, snowboarding or whitewater kayaking. Each of these passions brings a new perspective to wilderness survival discussions, and everyone can learn from the expertise, concerns and questions of others.
- You’ll truly connect with nature.
When you’re out on your wilderness survival course, you will bask in the sound of birds as you learn to set up a shelter, lose yourself in the process of building a campfire or completely relax as you practice primitive fishing techniques.
However, encountering nature as a place of perfect peace is only encountering half the picture. Nature nurtures, but she can also be the harshest of teachers. Taking a course can help you balance the idealistic with the realistic.
As you become reacquainted with all of nature’s many moods, you simultaneously increase your ability to read nature’s signs more clearly. This can help you avoid what some outdoor experts term the “Bambi fallacy”: That nature should be all peace and cuteness and is here for our recreational purposes.
Destroying this illusion not only protects you from dangerous naivete when out in the wild, but it also helps you see how human actions affect your local environment and impact fish and wildlife populations.
- You will learn how to choose and use outdoor gear.
Survival courses can help you better understand the challenges that the backcountry presents. When you know the problems, you’ll have a clearer idea of what gear you’ll need.
Use the wilderness survival course as an opportunity to ask how best to organize your emergency first aid kit, test out your latest fishing gear and determine how you prefer to pack your backpack. Your instructors can help you answer any questions you may have about gear and emergency paraphernalia.
- You will feel more capable of protecting your friends and family.
Learning wilderness survival skills isn’t just about boosting your confidence in the outdoors. It’s also about protecting those around you.
Even if you don’t usually venture out into the wilderness with others, there’s always a chance you may encounter a wounded hiker or stranded climber. Perhaps you and your friends might one day become stranded on an isolated road in a bad blizzard.
Either way, knowing how to handle yourself in the outdoors allows you to improvise shelter, solve real-world problems and be prepared for disaster. Whether you have to flee a hurricane-stricken zone, purify water if the grid goes down or hunt to provide food in wartime, survival skills pay off.
- You can break free from technology.
We live in a world dominated by technology, information and constant connection. This is a burden for the human brain, and sometimes you need to break free from continual busyness to focus on matters at hand. Research shows that time outside can boost mental health, help individuals cope with anxiety, and reduce various disease markers.
Breaking free from technology and getting outside might just be what you need to feel healthier, happier and more confident.
Be Ready for The Unknown
A survival course can help you understand the natural world, ask questions, learn from other participants and improve your overall sense of preparedness. Even if you aren’t a mountain-addicted rock climber or skier, you can still benefit from the lessons a wilderness survival course teaches, such as decision-making under stress. And who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new passion for the backcountry.