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4 Skills to Perfect in Fort Backyard

So you’ve been reading our articles, went to one of our camps, or maybe just looking for something fun to do with the family. Here are four skills you can perfect in your back yard before you have to use them for real.

Fire Craft

The single greatest skill for both confidence and usefulness is mastering fire craft. But don’t play with matches; work on two paths of mastery. The first is using a sparking device like the Light My Fire from Industrial Revolution. The second is learning a primitive technique such as the bow-drill.612

Once you begin to master- push yourselves to experiment with various tools and harder conditions. A great activity for gaining experience is to tie natural fiber rope to two stakes or rods in the ground about 18 inches high and time yourselves on how long it takes to bundle materials, get a flame, and then burn the rope down.

The ability to start a fire is key to staying alive in the wilderness. This means fire starting is a priority in the list of bushcraft skills.

Some residential zones may restrict fire to specified enclosures. If restricted then use a homemade or purchased fire-pit for containment. We built a pit using 8”x12”concreate pavers to create a pit to practice in.

Gimme’ Shelter

Many backyards don’t have ready-sized trees to practice with. Still, there are many things you can do to create shelter. You can use t-post stakes purchased from local farm and feed stores to create anchor points that simulate trees and common tent stakes to represent natural wood stakes you would normally make in the back country. Just know where water, electric, and sprinkler lines lay.

Experiment with tarps, ponchos, and even a few discarded pieces of lumber. You kids will love that you are building a fort with them.

Learn a few knots, get some decent 550- cord and get to it!

Wood Splitting- Knife Skills

608Wood splitting with a survival knife- also known as batoning can add a valuable wilderness survival skill to your toolbox. This is useful because it helps you in creating smaller- easier to ignite pieces of wood even when the wood is wet. Learn with a full blade survival knife and work your way to using a small axe or hatchet.

Bushcraft Cooking

You’re getting the hang of fire building so might as well use it to try your cooking over an open fire. You can choose to use a grate in the beginning- but move yourself into experimenting with cooking with Dutch Ovens, #10 cans, and wooden spits.

Try making a “survival stew (anything you find in the fridge) in a coffee can or pick up a Cornish hen and cook it over open coals. Be sure to follow all safe food handling protocols- and it’s okay to use a meat thermometer to help you learn.

We still use Fort Backyard to master skills, and these four will get you on a path to perfecting skills before you have to use them.

Teraflex Tailgate Table

094The Teraflex Tailgate Table has been on my wish list since I saw Roger Mercier of Overland Frontier fixing breakfast at the Overland Expo using a drop table like this. This is the perfect accessory for any Jeep enthusiast needing a spot to make a quick sandwich, poor a glass of wine for your “glamping” companions, or even repair an RC car on. I used mine for a cooking surface for my two-burner stove, however I’m not sure I can recommend this due to the proximity of grease, fire, gas cans, and the rest of my rig. For everything else kitchen related, it is perfect!

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Carl using a hose clamp to prevent the bit drilling too far

029 041The install took about 45 minutes. For the most part it is simply placing the pattern on the inside of the tailgate and DETAILED drilling. On my 2013 JK I had to ensure that we didn’t hit any of the spot welds and also be conscious of the degrees of metal thickness. The right side of the tailgate has more sheet metal than the left. Also our drill spot on the lower left was half thin and half double metal. This caused the drill bit to walk a bit and tried to “egg” the hole instead of a neat circle. Fortunately I had Carl helping me and being the master of machinery he is, immediately detected the problem. He finished out the last hole using a die-grinder at low-speed.

You should also be aware that if not careful- your drill bit can punch through the inside wall and leave a dent in the exterior wall. Teraflex has a highly informative video out there demonstrating how they did the install and specifically point this out. Recommend you check out their video as well. We didn’t have a tool to prevent the bit from going through- so we used a hose clamp around the bit. Worked like a charm!

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We had to pre-crimp some of the Zert nuts to get them to grab traction on the tailgate

One issue we found on the thinner part of the tailgate wall was the Zert nuts getting enough traction to mushroom out. Zert nuts are similar to a rivet, except once installed they will accept a bolt or screw to hold an item in place. We pre-crimped the nuts so they would grab traction on the thinner part of the wall. If you do this—it is a VERY MINOR crimp. Try installing per instructions first.055

Once the nuts were in, it was just a matter of bolting the table onto the four nuts, doing some minor adjustments to the cable, and then off to make a sandwich.

Teraflex does have a cutting board available and I recommend ordering your multi-purpose table with one. I’m watching every dime right now to get ready for our Oregon/Washington/Canada trip and Washington Overland Rally trip and even though they are not expensive, I opted to not to get one and use our cutting board out of the trailer. Wishing I had bought one now and after the rally will put that on my “to-buy” list.068 072

The rack will hold a stove and as mentioned above but for me,  I’m not keen on this idea. My first real meal came Sunday afternoon in the mining country of the Boise Mountains. I was making Tri-tip burritos using my two-burner stove and cast iron. My stove is a bit odd in the way it set up with portable propane bottles, and I wasn’t comfortable with the way it sat on the rack. Not the fault of the rack, I have an odd-set up is all. Tri-tip does have a moderate level of fat on the underside. While testing I had a small grease fire and even though nothing was damaged, looking back, with fire in close proximity to my Trasharoo and Rotopax gas can, I think I will move the stove to a safer location.

096In my second testing along the Snake River on Monday, the table was perfect for dicing tomatoes and cutting lettuce for my special back-country finger sandwiches and wedge salad. It also made a great platform in the evening as I was conducting a wine tasting complete with assortments of cheese. No I have not lost the rugged edge; I was simply providing my wife and sister-in-law with a weekend of back-country luxury.

The well entertained ladies in the back country– Good lunch, warm fire, and me performing survival tricks!

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The Tailgate Table allowed me to prep all kinds of snacks and meals for these ladies in the back country…including a wine tasting! Now I just need a rack and awning for some shade!

This is a well thought-out product and a must have for any Jeeper. Contact Teraflex.com or Quadratec.com to order yours!

 

 

 

Idaho Scenic Byways

DCIM100GOPROThis is the time of year to hit the scenic byways of Idaho. These are great one-day and even multi-day trips that most vehicles can handle. If you have been a steady reader of the blog or the podcast, you know we love to hit these 4-wheel adventures. Idaho has so much to offer.

When researching, make sure your first stop is to http://www.visitidaho.org/scenic-byways/ where you can order your free travel guide. While the guide lacks many of the details to plan out your trip, it does give you enough of a view to pull out the map and do some planning.

Go Prepared

While some trips don't require this much recovery gear, trips on backcountry byways requirs that you go completely preparred

While some trips don’t require this much recovery gear, trips on backcountry byways requires that you go completely prepared

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But before you head out- think of how you pack for the trip. Remember Idaho’s byways range from rural to remote. Be sure you have any emergency gear packed for the trip such as first-aid, good communications, extra water, tools, etc. Some of these byways skirt alongside backcountry areas so help will not always be a phone call away. If you have a breakdown or other emergency- you need to be prepared to stay for awhile. In my other article I briefly outline what we take on trips such as the Owyhee Backcountry Byway, one of the most remote byway trips in Idaho.

I keep a road atlas with me to do over-the-hood planning while on the road. They are great for reference along the way

Shutter Bugs

253No matter where you start out from, there are great options for awesome scenery. Be sure to pack your camera and if you are really a shutter bug, pack those once-in-a lifetime lenses you rarely pull out. This last winter I had my dad along Sawtooth, Payette River, and Western Heritage byways where he had opportunity to shoot pics of Antelope, a young brood of Sand Hill Crane, and a few other hard to get close to animals. In addition, great scenery abounds on the byways so packing a tripod and a wide angle is a must. Pack extra batteries, throw in a dust cloth for the lenses, and maybe an extra memory card. There are even opportunities for the iPod photo enthusiast so keep your car charge handy.266

Soak in the Sites

  IMG_6040 Stop off at the small museums, wineries, and state parks along the way. There are great stops along the way like Craters of the Moon National Park along the Peaks to Craters Byway or Huston Wineries along the Snake River Byway. Most have great mom and pop diners for lunch, keep cash on hand for some of the better stops. Better yet, throw in your own picnic. We usually throw in lunch for the day and stop for dinner or start off with breakfast in a non-chain dive. IMG_6043I love driving but need a break from hours of windshield time. I like to find an area where we can park and either pull out sandwiches or I can do a quick burger or two on one of our portable grills. I even throw in a few lawn chairs to relax in.

Journal It

Capture moments along the way and post in the journal

Capture moments along the way and post in the journal

DCIM100GOPROThere are 30 official byways in Idaho. I recommend creating a special journal for the adventure, and log each one with thoughts to scribe, postcards, pictures, museum tickets, etc.

 

Sometimes we will take a few days to do one or more byways- and camp along the way. This is where our home built Explorer box designed by Compact Camping Concepts is a huge benefit.

Sometimes we will take a few days to do one or more byways- and camp along the way. This is where our home-built Explorer box designed by Compact Camping Concepts is a huge benefit.

For more information checkout the article just released from Magic Valley Times-News http://magicvalley.com/lifestyles/recreation/scenic-byway-adventures-adventure-guide/article_8f53f418-d7d0-11e3-aaf4-001a4bcf887a.html

In addition, I have a few write up on my own byway tours at AdventureIQ.com including these two…

https://adventureiq.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/465/

https://adventureiq.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/touring-the-owyhee-back-country-byway/

And if you see us on the road out there-stop and say hey! We just might have a sticker or two for you!

Ten Things Your 10 Year-old Should Know about Survival

Your job is to provide your kiddo with skills and knowledge to make it back alive if something was to happen

Your job is to provide your kiddo with skills and knowledge to make it back alive if something was to happen

Every year I run between 400-600 kids through survival training through venues like Scooters Youth Hunting Camp, Idaho Hunters Ed, the Adventure IQ Survival Day Camp, and multiple seminars at outdoor events, sporting good stores, church events, and private workshops. From this experience I have found there are a few essential skills every 10 year-old should know.

A big part of this is parent/mentor involvement. Don’t just buy a bunch of cool survival gadgets and throw them in a pack. Take full advantage of your base camp- ie- Fort Backyard to learn and practice these skills. If you have been in one of my workshops you will remember that one of the keys to teaching kids is to teach them one skill at a time, let them gain mastery of it and show they are responsible, then place it in their hunting or hiking pack. For us the basic building block of any pack is a hydration bladder and a solid pack designed for the size of your kiddo.

Below are the 10 things I believe every 10 year-old should master and be responsible/accountable to :

How to Build Shelter

This not only has to do with keeping warm, but also making shade as well as staying put. From basic methods of using a light-weight nylon tarp to making shelter from natural resources, a shelter provides the psychological benefits of keeping busy-ie-keeping fear at bay, keeps them at one spot and from wandering around, and the sense of “place” they need to survive. In addition it will keep them out of the elements.

How to Use a Knife

Using a knife well is a skill that has long since been lost. In days of old- if you were 10 and had not whittled something cool you were pretty much relegated to go play dolls with your sister. It wasn’t long ago boys would sit at recess and compare blades. Sometime around the 8th or 9th grade most of us made a bowie-knife in shop.
A knife is a practical tool and one of the first to add in a kit when they learn to use it safely and have a maturity for it. Start kids out young with a simple pocket knife with no more than four tools- main blade, skinning blade, can opener, and one other implement. Keep the blades small at first then move up from there.
Most important, receiving a knife is a rite of passage so have a small ceremony and when your kiddo is old enough present them with a very special knife. My daughter received her first one at 9 during a camping trip. We made a huge deal out of it. Recently we did the same thing when she became one of my instructors, receiving an Air Force survival knife. Make them earn it, learn to use and respect it, then reward them with it.
I still have my first Buck 110 that my grandfather gave me.

How to Swap Batteries in a Head Lamp

Basic-but I know adults who struggle with this. The head lamp is one of the first survival items you can add to a pack. Practice changing batteries at Camp Living Room then move it out to Ft Backyard. Practice at night since this is when most dead batteries are discovered.

 

How to Make Fire

This is the single most confidence building skill for kids going into the back country- but take it beyond learning how to produce a flame with a cotton ball and petroleum jelly. Teach them how to clear an area, when fire is at high danger, and how to build at least two types of fire pits.

Start with simple skills- then progress to more difficult scenarios

Start with simple skills then progress to more difficult scenarios

Get them proficient with one method (striker and cotton)and move them into other techniques. Practice on clear days and move them into adverse conditions like rain and snow. Be patient. This can be a difficult skill to learn, especially when working in wet and windy conditions. If you don’t have one, build a fire pit in Ft Backyard for practice.
This is a skill that needs to be practiced regularly at home, on family camping trips, and days hiking in the woods.

As an added bit of fun, experiment with friction methods like the bow drill.

 

How to Signal for Help

Signal mirrors and whistles are just a start. By the time your kiddo is 10 they should be able to properly use both of these. At 10- this is a solid start into other signal skills.

Signal is simple in concept- but teaching correct target aquisition takes practice

Signal is simple in concept- but teaching correct target acquisition takes practice

Know How to Fish
Teach a kid to fish. Then teach them how to use the small kit in their survival bag. Also- have them clean, cook, and eat what they take.

 

How to Give First-Aid/Self-Aid

Start simple. Being prepared and knowing how to use ALL the contents in their kit is essential.

 

How to Get Water

A small filter system is best for 10 year-olds olds and then moves them into more advanced skills with tablets, boiling, etc.
Don’t forget the obvious– where potable water is help in parks and camp sites.

How to Use a Slingshot or Bow
Another lost art. Teach the basic, go to the woods for some stump shooting, then either at FT Backyard or on a camping trip have them take game. We purchase quail or chickens for practice. It is good for a kid to understand that life must be taken in order to preserve life. Eat what you harvest and have them begin to learn how to field dress game respectfully.

How to Handle a Fire Arm

Shoot or don’t shoot. Just teach them how to handle it safely, and it’s not a toy. If you are gun adverse, at least teach them to leave it alone. If you are okay with your kiddo handling guns, get them training to do it correctly.

Abby and Dan

All of these are basic skills any 10-year-old can perform, but it is up to you to provide them a safe educational environment. For more information or to get us involved and partnering with you, please check us out at http://www.AdventureIQ.com

His and Hers – A Love Story

This story was originally part of a series I wrote for another blog. Thought I would repost it due to a few questions I have been getting on smaller RC rigs. These little rigs are great to travel with and one of mine has almost frequent flyer mileage as I do.

I have had several Revos, Slashes, Rallys, and combinations, conversions, and off-shoots of these three. But by far the most fun I have had was building these two rigs with my wife.

A few weeks ago she showed an interest in an old buggy. Now she has always loved building and painting but driving was not so fun for her. I took an old slash and put a 23 turn motor in it and placed in training mode. In the privacy of our backyard track she learned to like it. Then last week for the Sweet 16 Rally we held here, we picked up a mini slash for non rc visitors to bash. She fell in love with the car when placed in training mode.

Her rig is stock and has the 12 turn Titan but soon to have a 23 turn HPI. That should give her longer run time and slower speeds

My rig has the Velenion brushless with Traxxas ESC, Traxxas and Integy aluminum, and run it on a Spektrum controller.

On neither rig am I overly concerned with having top shelf race parts, and use trickle down stuff from my prime rig…the Revo.

The Slash takes a lot of lip because of stability. My argument is that if you drive a car within its limits you don’t flip as much. We can go through several battery packs in an evening without ever being on our lids.

I’m enjoying our time in the yard with these rigs. I’m kind of anal about similar rigs running at the same time so its nice we are driving short course rigs at the same time.

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Re Post: Babes in the Woods

Video: GPS for Confidence Building
I wanted to repost this since–my “Babe in the Woods” has been promoted to a cadre position on my team…

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Lighting a fire in wet conditions, and not rescuing from the failures is tough…

I have never been a fan of the notion everybody wins. When coaching youth roller hockey in San Antonio, I had one of the few, and eventually the only program that still kept score in the YMCA portfolio of sports programs.

I believe that you need to give kids a realistic view of their performance, but done so in a way that you leverage their strengths in whatever evaluation you are doing. I don’t believe in sugar-coating the feedback, or playing with soft gloves. I also don’t believe in being harsh on them either.

In all my workshops, coaching endeavors, or training I do with kids, military leaders, new adults to the woods, etc is the same… I define the conditions and expectations, allow them to perform, allow them to self evaluate, and then provide guidance and feedback.

The other aspect is tough. I don’t rescue. I allow failure as long as safety is not compromised. Nothing is learned if I am constantly helping a participant to a point I am completing the task them.

Let’s discuss two situations where I have to guide a participant differently.

The first is a fire building scenario. The participant has a good grasp of the concept, understands how to use flint and steel, knows the type of tinder and has been highly successful in starting fires in the past. But this has all been in controlled conditions when it has been fair weather and dry materials.

Survival fires though are most often needed when conditions are wet and clammy. To really test skills, I have to put the participant into real conditions so they not only have the ability to start fires and get warm when most needed, but to have the confidence to do so.

Most fail in getting the fire started in these conditions. Many times, I fail. It is a difficult test to complete. But the real learning is through the debrief with the participant and allowing them to do it again.

Watching a participant unnecessarily expending energy to grab materials, using the wrong materials, standing by and watching the fire not start can be irritating and the desire to jump in can be powerful. But I have to let them fail. This is because the participant has acquired a level of mastery in controlled conditions that can lead to over-confidence which is just as dangerous as not having the skills at all. Here you have to have the tough love and not jump in, allow them to identify their own mistakes, and then provide guidance.

In the other situation, a participant who is new to GPS navigation. In this scenario, the participant is just learning, and allowing them to fail outright as they work to program coordinates, follow the gps to a target, and try to find the best path to get to the target can be overwhelming. In this case I will work closely with the participant and provide constant coaching and working them to success. I still use the same debrief techniques of “what, so what, now what” that I have discussed in the blog and podcast in the past.

Building a solid toolbox of skills is an on-going exercise. As a team, constantly work on our skills to either keep them sharp or learn new techniques. It is also what helps us in communicating with each other and building our team and our families to a tighter cohesive group.

I am not a fan of the everybody wins philosophy. In the back-country people die. There is no second place with mother nature, just a body bag.

Original article: http://waukeefamilyymca.blogspot.com/2011/09/everybody-plays-everybody-wins.html

For more information about us, please checkout http://www.AdventureIQ.com for other blogs, podcast, and videos.

Our Trailer Build in Pictures

Last year a buddy of mine and I built my expedition trailer. While I still need to do a full blog article, I thought I should at least share the pictures of the build…based on what I could find on my hard drive…so here you go– more details to follow.

Not in any order–random pics I found

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