If you ventured deep in the
National Forest underneath
the barren hardwood trees next to the bubbling Shoal Creek in the freezing mists
of the morning on Saturday, January 26th, you would have discovered a
fascinating campsite. Recycled wooden signs announced that this was “JSU
Survival Camp” and two fire rings burned bright to warm the outdoor classroom
for thirty dedicated participants, mostly fathers and sons.
Captain Jerry Mize begins
Wilderness Survival 101 with some humor and supportive facts regarding pop
television shows such as Survivor
Man and Man Vs.
“You are in the woods. You look
left. You look right. . . . Ahead . . . Behind. Nothing looks familiar. You don’t know
which way you need to go. What do you do?” asked Captain Jerry Mize as he paced
back in front of an attentive group of wannabe survivor
“You stop right where you are and
think about your situation,” answered Caleb Davis who is a seventh grader at
Caleb Davis points out ways to improve a shelter to his father John Davis.
With a wide grin, Captain Mize says,
“Yes! Someone give that kid a cookie! You are lost and you need to stop and
think. If you panic or begin to run aimlessly through the woods, you will only
make your situation worse.”
Chris Raney, USDA Forest
Service, partners with JSU to ensure safety; Bobby Floyd, JSU Field Schools, is
a Wilderness Responder.
Cole Pollard cuts a stick to the right size under Bobby Floyd’s supervision.
Captain Mize lead the group through
a series of immersion-based learning activities that included working as teams
to build their own shelters, creating snares to capture food, purifying water, and
observing other basic survival skills. This was an eight-hour class and the participants
enjoyed every moment, stating that they learned skills that would certainly be
useful in any survival situation.
Zach Baeza studies a diagram of a poncho lean-to.
Captain Mize is impressed by this shelter constructed in 30 minutes by participants.
Jacob Bagwell, Mark Hearn, Cole Pollard and Braden Hearn listen to the critique of the temporary
Participants practice their fire-starting skills. (Dried cattail fluff is excellent
“This is absolutely wonderful!”
exclaimed Dr. Mac Gillam as he watched his son John Thomas moving through the
woods searching for useful materials to build a temporary shelter. “We’d like
for the field school and Captain Mize to plan an overnight survival camp when it
warms up a bit. These boys would love it!”
John Thomas Gillam searches Shoal Creek for useful materials.
If you are interested in
participating in future Wilderness Survival 101 workshops or in the tentative
Wilderness Survival Overnight Camp, please contact Renee Morrison at JSU Field
Schools by calling 256-782-5697 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .