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09.01.2016 admin
After wandering around for 45 minutes, when I finally arrived at Adventure Out’s Wilderness Skills and Survival Class at Camp Arequipa in Fairfax, San Anselmo native Jack Harrison was teaching a group of 25 couples, 20-somethings, families and two large hunters to build a debris hut out of leaves and sticks.
The group hopes to learn not just survival skills that might someday, possibly be useful, but also to enjoy the outdoors that so many in Marin hike, run and bike through. Harrison, a 2007 grad prone to mentioning off-handedly the time he built a shelter as night fell in a Montana snowstorm or when he spent a year living in the woods of Washington, is Adventure Out’s Operations Manager.
Being late, I missed the four keys to survival, but they are order of importance: shelter, fire, water, and food. When I arrived at survival camp this past Saturday in the misting rain, Harrison is regaling the group with his own survival parables – proof that sleeping in a pile of leaves can keep you alive, even in a snowstorm. Constructing a debris hut is not nearly as hard as it sounds – as I quickly learn when we build our own. The idea is to insulate yourself with leaves, plants and debris by first piling them nice and thick on the ground and then building on top.
Build the top and sides using large branches that will hold up against anything that might fall on you and smaller branches to create a latticework to dump more leaves on and block up all the holes. One of Harrison’s stories is a lesson about building his first hut when he was just 12 years old. If you can build yourself a shelter, you will survive nearly any night you might get lost in the wilds of the Bay Area. We spent two hours practicing building fire, but it wasn't nearly enough time for more than five or six people to create flames. Find a slightly bent stick about the length of your arm and tie a string (use your shoelace if you need to) like a bow.
Twist the string of your “bow” around your cylinder with the bottom stuck in the hole of your base and the top in your handhold.
Once you have a burned indent, cut a notch in your base (about an eighth of a circle) into the hole.
Set the ash inside a prepared tinder bundle, letting it breath, and blow on it until it catches fire. Although Harrison does the whole thing in just a few minutes, he revealed that he practices every day and also that he’s not at his peak right now.
Despite the fact that the bow drill is supposedly the easiest method of creating fire and the quickest to learn, I had no success.
The highlight of the survival camp are the hands-on lessons, but Harrison also offers some insight into the issues of water and food – starting with: unless you know you’re going to get rescued and don’t care about giardia, don’t drink just any water you find. Look for water moving to low points, find natural caches such as ditches or holes in rocks, and if there are no other sources of water wipe your cotton t-shirt on a the leaves around you in the morning to gather dew. The easiest way to bring water to a boil, thus purifying it, is to pull burning rocks out of the fire you lit using the bow drill and stick them in the bowl of water. He encourages people to learn for themselves which plants are poisonous and which aren’t, otherwise we won’t retain what he tells us. To learn about bringing down birds with just a stick, though, you’ll have to take the advanced class.
Adventure Out is a Santa Cruz-based company founded by Cliff Hodges in 2002 that specializes in extreme outdoor adventure classes. The most popular of these is the beginning Wilderness Skills and Survival Class, which the company has branched out to offer to the weekend warriors of Marin. The new Fairfax-based classes are largely the brainchild of Harrison, who wants to inspire people like he was inspired as a kid starting with Mrs.

If you ask Harrison, he was an odd kid, spending a lot of time learning “primitive skills” after his family moved to the East Coast when he was in middle school. But, he went to class often enough to meet and impress Hodges when Adventure Out did a clinic for the SEA-DISC environmental academy at Drake. Natalie Franzini, who graduated from Terra Linda last year, came with her older sister to survival class, because she loves camping and was inspired by outdoor activists. My son went to a kids survival camp this week, it ended today with a parents day, where the parents were able to come see what the kids accomplished this week. After the parents checked out the shelters the kids had a blast destroying them, and scattering the twigs and brush around the woods where they found it. My son and his friend had a blast at survival camp learning how to build the shelter, make a fire and survive in the woods. The Wilderness Skills Sampler itinerary is designed to provide participants with an overview of the skills that Wolf Camp offers.
Kim & Chris Chisholm are on site all week directing staff instructors at Clark’s Creek Park where Kim has studied nature and played since she was a child!
WAIT LISTED so please email us to be put on the list in hopes that we have one more returning instructor confirm for this week, or join our all-age family classes running simultaneously with the same curriculum. Day Camps for ages 5-13 are normally $325 but in celebration of our 20th Anniversary Year, we are offering our Puyallup Day Camp for $295. Standard Discounts: You will receive cumulative discounts of $10 per additional week you attend this summer, $10 off per additional family member attending this summer, $10 off for successfully referring other families who register campers this summer, and once you’ve attended a program, $10 per online review you do for us on a searchable site like google and yelp, no matter how positive. Scholarships Availability: Our primary focus for scholarships is for residents of Pierce County and its cities.
Refund Policy: If your registration is not accepted, you will receive a full refund on deposits. In celebration of our 20th Anniversary Year we are offering extended care free of charge this year in our home town of Puyallup.
Please note that we had our first fender-bender in the early summer of 2014 since annually transporting campers starting with our first day camp in 1997. This is a course which teaches you how to stay calm in extreme conditions and with minimum of equipment, how to solve crisis situations and always find a way to rescue. We will teach you to survive in extreme conditions and with minimum of equipment, how to solve crisis situations and always find a way to rescue. That means he teaches people how to find edible plants, how to kill animals with throwing sticks, and – like he is when I arrive – how to build a debris hut. But, if you’re planning on being lost for more than one night or in a less temperate climate, then building a fire is step number two. Of those 30, he teaches “the bow drill” – a video of which can be seen at right, as well as a video of Harrison performing the bow drill successfully Saturday afternoon. Put in enough rocks (not with your hands, with sticks like chopsticks) until it brings the water to a boiling temperature, then pull the rocks back out. Stay away from mushrooms unless you’re an expert and stick to simple things like acorns (which you need to let wash out the toxins in running water), the inside bark on trees and grubs. It started as a company offering trips and clinics just to women, but these days Adventure Out offers everything from five-day surfing camps to animal tracking classes to a Half Dome backpacking trip. They didn’t get to make many fires this week, since one day was a constant steady rain, and the next day everything was still very wet.
He has one more camp next week, and it’s all about lizards, snakes, salamanders, and other creepy crawlers.

Use of the web site constitues acceptance of the Defy Media Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Please join us for closing ceremonies to help campers integrate the skills they learned back into their life! To reserve your spot, make a $75 minimum deposit and your balance will be due upon arrival.
Please note that the Better Business Bureau and other sites forbid any incentive for writing reviews so we can’t give credits for those, but still appreciate it since it’s hard to get reviews when people are as satisfied as our camp families. If you need financial assistance or want to apply for a merit scholarship, click on Max Davis Scholarships which are granted by the Western Outdoor Learning Fund (WOLF Foundation) – a Washington State non-profit organization, independent from Wolf Camp and the Conservation College, whose mission it is to support those wishing to attend programs of earth skills education. Wolf Camp proprietors Kim & Chris Chisholm do almost all the driving, along with some of our normally 25+ year old instructors.
The essence of survival is to know how to take advantage from situations and how to use natural resources. Using a large log, tree or rock as one side of your shelter is always a good idea, but be sure you’re not at risk for being wiped out by a rock or mud slide. I eventually lost interest and figured I would operate off of Baird’s words of wisdom when another camper asked if they should bring these tools with them hiking and camping?
The twigs and sticks were a little dryer today, but they were still getting quite a bit of smoke, and not much fire to roast their marshmallows and hot dogs.
The only additional expenses you may incur for camp are that you will need to pack a lunch and snacks every day, add van transportation or extended care if desired, and of course all campers need health insurance. To apply, add to your camp registration form answers to the 8 financial aid scholarship questions, or complete a merit scholarship project as described on that page. If you cancel after making further payment, you may receive a credit for future programs, minus deposit, in case of emergency, although additional leniency may be given if you registered more than a month in advance.
Campers utilizing extended care will have a dedicated staff member leading them in activities, sometimes joining the overnight campers when appropriate. Please indicate your approximate drop-off and pick-up times upon registration. Driving is everyone’s biggest risk, followed by water activities, falls and other risks listed on our liability release form.
Alternatively, you can join your child to attend our very inexpensive family classes which follow the exact same schedule as the in-depth sampler day camp. We think long and hard before deciding to offer transportation each year, and we welcome your suggestions for future transportation options. No refund, nor credit, is given if a participant is asked to leave for inappropriateness as determined by our agreements for participation. Training is something which prepares you for dangers that may wait everywhere (tourism, accident, sport…). We will teach you how to work both individually and in a team, to be strong and ready for everything. Survival in nature with a goal of education and cooperation is something which makes from your team a machine which has no limitations.

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