Practice Practice Practice

Blowing smoke….so much I could say on the subject….but won't...

Blowing smoke….so much I could say on the subject….but won’t…

I recently attended a survival workshop when I traveled to California. It was put on by a grass-roots organization much like our own. When I go to workshops like this I stay pretty incognito about the whole Adventure IQ thing. This is mostly to respect the workshop and instructor I happen to be a guest of. If there is good chemistry between the instructor and myself, I usually let them know what I do and how much I appreciated the course. I have found the respectful gesture opens up so many more opportunities for me.

It’s all about getting exposure to new techniques and solidifying old ones. I am amazed –well maybe not anymore, the guys who come in as “know-it-all” instructors. They brag about their own skills. The refuse to participate in an activity because they have done it before so they don’t need to do it again. They re-teach a lesson, point out mistakes of the instructor, and always seem to need to “add-on” to what the instructor said. I have even seen them walk across the room or dirt pit to provide unsolicited advice or assistance to another student.

Here are few simple observations to the participants that go to survival workshops. I did not create these, in fact they are an adaptation of a list I was shown when I first began teaching 30 years ago by my boss.

Every event has four participants.

The Prisoner who feels he as to be there. “My boss made me come”, “I ducked out of these now it’s time I show up” or “I have to be here”, are all hallmarks of the person trapped and really doesn’t want to be there.

The Intellectual loves to point out the instructors flaws, re-teach a lesson, help when not asked, ask questions to stump the instructor, and brag about their own experience. I have been challenged on my philosophies of not drinking urine to using zip-lock bags to make fire instead of taking the right tools to my selection of knots to use on a lashing. The intellectual or “know it all is a pain in the @$$ to deal with. The usually get scratched from future rosters. I like learning new things from my students, but I don’t tolerate BS from my instructors and certainly not from a participant in my workshops.

The Vacationer is just there to occupy space and consume oxygen. They take up a roster spot that someone who really wanted to be there would enjoy. It’s hard to get them to perform, but at times they are easier to motivate.

The Explorer is the crown jewel of workshop participants. They come in at all experience levels and take away something. They may know every technique the instructor knows, but instead of teaching or showing up the instructor, they work to perfect their techniques. I have built thousands of fires, yet when in the course in California, I picked up on a new way to compress my tinder bundle and concentrate heat and oxygen to produce flame faster. If I had simply said, “That’s okay, I’ve done this before”, I would robbed myself of new knowledge. Always go as an Explorer.

Re-read books, watch videos from obscure instructors, experiment, take classes, etc. Just get out there and re-learn. Make a hundred fires to only make a hundred more. Make a para bracelet even though you have 50 of them. Test your self on a new style of hobo stove, anorak, or other self-made gear. You can never practice this stuff enough. Last, when a guest of an instructor, go out of your way to not be an @$$ by making a comment on every lesson, stepping in to teach his/her students, refusing to participate, and pointing out their faults. There are few experts in this field and honestly, as humans we’ve been doing this survival stuff for a few melenia….

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