Tag Archives: boise survival training

Surviving the Crash

This morning a little girl is lucky to be alive after her and her father went down in a small aircraft this weekend. She came out in good condition with only minor injuries. Unfortunately her daddy did not survive.

One of my fears is going down in an aircraft with Abby. We train so that we know what to do if something happens to me.

One of my fears is going down in an aircraft with Abby. We train so that we know what to do if something happens to me.

As a private pilot who travels with his daughter, this is the scenario that scares me. Often where we fly, we do not have cell reception like they did in this weekend’s case. Often, a survivor of back country aircraft accidents are  seriously injured and do not have immediate means for reaching the outside world. In many cases even if in cell range, phones are either lost, trapped, or damaged upon impact.

Abby and I have trained specifically for this scenario. Not only do we keep a survival kit in the plane, but each of us has a PSK (Personal Survival Kit) on us, so that if we or one of us escapes with just what we have on us- we have as a minimum the basics to survive. In addition, Adventure IQ offers aviation specific training to back country pilots and FREE training to General Aviation (non-commercial rated) Pilots. All they have to do is book with us.

Hard skills are just part of it. We also train the best we can for PMA- Positive Mental Attitude- this means training by herself on cold, wet, and rainy days with me observing from a distance.

Hard skills are just part of it. We also train the best we can for PMA- Positive Mental Attitude- this means training by herself on cold, wet, and rainy days with me observing from a distance.

We have the basics of what goes into a kit here.

For the PSK- it should be small and compact. A fly fishing vest is a great place to store all this stuff. Propper even has a tactical vest that we have been using in the back country for close to a year now and holds a decent amount of gear comfortably.

This is a sad case and hope my kiddo never ha s to face it. If you fly, please book training with us for both you and your family.

Here is the original article from this weekend’s crash

SLLSS for Better Observation and Awareness

IMG_2498In 1990 I hd the opportunity to attend my first Pre-Ranger Training/ Selection. Though I did not get a recommend at that atempt I took away some really valuable information to prepare me for my next attempt as well as techniques i still use today in a non-combat format. One of these is SLLSS.

In a combat patrol SLLSS is what you do when you pass from forward friendly lines into bad-guy country. The acronym is Stop, Look, Listen, Smell, and Scan. It helps to get you use to the new sounds, smells, and even the possiblity of finding potential enemy waiting in ambush for you. I use it quite differently today.

When teaching awareness and even basic tracking, SLLSS is the first exercise I place new students into when we hit the back country. I walk them from camp and set up a comfort zone for them. Let me break down the basics of what I teach:


Stop moving, stop adjusting gear, stop writing stuff in your journal. Stop thinking about work, school, or what’s in your pack for dinner. Stop and be in the moment.


Look around your area. Take a few moments to just understand where you are. See how the terrain flows. Look where the position of the sun is, the trees rocking, the ants on the ground. Notice animals scurrying around. Look both near and far, narrow and wide.


After being in the woods for 15-30 minutes, many of the sounds will return. Animal chatter, bugs, birds. Listen for water flowing, other students coughing or adjusting gear, the sound or the breaking limbs when the wind blows.


Every environment has its own unique smell, and sometimes by just turning your head you can pick up new smells. Pick up plants close to you and smell them to better relate the smell with what it looks like.


Using a SLOW scan like a figure 8 or z pattern you can pick up movement or even something you never noticed before.

By slowing down and conducting a SLLSS after everytime you occupy a new comfort zone, stop to rest on a hike, or when tracking you will pick up more signs in the woods.

I teach the SLLSS method to anyone interested in going out to the back country with me. Hope you will join us on one of our outings.

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Feedback Format When Teaching Kids Bush Craft and Survival

IMG_0199The 2015 Kids Camp is in the books. What a great year we had. 44 kids and their parents came out for a full day of survival and bush craft training- all for free. It is the highpoint of what has been both a difficult and productive year for us. Driving away from the site I was thankful for another successful year that could not have been done without supporters such as Cabela’s, Sportsmans’ Warehouse, Scooters Youth Hunting Camp, Abundant Life Baptist Church, Boise Army-Navy Store, At Home Medical Partners, and Power Engineers. It took committed parents to spend the day with their kiddos watching them learn how to survive in the woods if they get lost.

Several parents praised us on our “expertise” in survival and I found myself correcting this by stating we are learners who have worked towards mastering parts of the discipline. This is a label I quickly shun. I know of maybe a handful of people I would place that label on, and I’m not one of them. Something I think we do better than anybody though is teaching the skills we have mastered in a way that almost anybody can comprehend and begin to apply. If we are experts, its in teaching, and not just kids, anybody.

I want to focus this article specifically on providing feedback in the learning aspect and since we just had a weekend of kids learning and hopefuly parents coaching and providing guidance, I am going to go through the method we use. This is not the complete teaching model, its actually the second step of the coaching process after the learner (your kiddo) has made several attempts and is either successful or needs some additional work. If you use this method, don’t expect to be an expert with it (it took me 30 years of coaching and teaching).

Here is the model and I will provide a few examples at the end. It is a 7-step model and works when your kiddo is successful or not.








So lets take a look at how this breaks out…IMG_7018


What is it you want to coach them on. Give them some idea of why you are providing the feedback. “Hey let’s talk about the way you set up your shelter”. “Can I help you with some tips on starting the cotton ball on fire”


What you specifically notice.

“I noticed the guy-lines on the shelter seem to be a little loose.” You’re turning your wrist up when you are moving the striker down the ferro rod.”


Your kiddo needs to understand specifically what the impact is of doing something incorrect.

“When the guy-lines are loose, it will cause the shelter to flap and won’t keep you covered. It will also cause the ground stakes to beak away from the dirt.” When you turn your wrist up on the ferro rod, you don’t get as many sparks.”


Here you have to let them talk, vent, come up with ideas, etc. Let them speak. You just might find out what the barriers are for them.


With adults I will try to get suggestions from them. With kids and teens I will make the suggestions for them

“Let me show you how to tie a timber-hitch, that way you can tighten the rope on your shelter if it comes loose again.” “Keep your wrist pointed down and grind the ferro rod all the way to the tinder.”


This is where you gain street-cred, well in this case bush-cred. If they get it right, then praise them with what they did well. If the device is broken, in the wrong position, doesn’t fit the kiddo, etc you need to support them with repairs, replacement, practice, etc.

“Your right, the line keeps stretching out of shape, lets get some better para-cord. “ “Hey, there you go, you’re getting really good sparks now!”


In the simplest form it is getting done what needs to be done to be successful and making sure they can repeat the process when they really need to in an emergency.

“Hey those lines work really well. Let me see you tie that timber hitch again.” “Great job on getting that cottonball lit, let’s do it again to make sure we got it.

Hopefully this gives you a glimpse into the world of helping your kiddo master outdoor skills. A good friend reminded me late last week when we saw several parents trying to opt out of spending the day with their kids at our camp, “The want your presence not your presents.”

I will follow up with a podcast on this subject later this week and post a link on here and our FB page.


Dixie Flames

I wish I remembered who first showed this little addition tome for my combustion kit. I have seen several on the internet lately, so be sure to Google it and see other ideas and methods. My first experience with this was some 30 years ago. It was one of my fellow team members back at Dyess when I was hanging with the Life Support guys. I was tasked with running the OPFOR or enemy trrops that were looking for downed aircrew members during the SAREX or search and rescue exercises in the west Texas wasteland known as Camp Brownlee. Not even sure the place exist anymore.

I was fresh back from Desert Storm, had done some work with the ParaRescue unit and had gone through the Royal Saudi Air Force Survival School at King Abdul Air Base. Desert Shield had “redlined” or killed my orders for my shot at becoming an Air Force Survival Instructor. I was determined to get back on the path of becoming a SERE Instructor, so I got to know the Survival Instructor and Life Support guys at Dyess pretty well. It didn’t take long and I was working with them running OPFOR teams and learning new skills that would help me if I ever got my shot. This is just one of the many tricks and tips they taught me. It was a fun group to hang with since we are all expected to learn and teach each other new things. Its where the concept of BushLab came from.

This little fire starter uses a straw, a cotton ball, petroleum jelly, a lighter, and a knife to create.

Begin by cutting the straws in half.

Next lightly dip each end in the petroleum jelly

Next tightly roll the cotton ball and straw paper and work it into the straw

Next finish off with a bit of petroleum jelly on each end, melt each the end of the straw and press to seal.

When ready to use, cur in half and pull one or both pieces of cotton out. You will have a fire starter that can light from a ferro rod and will burn for several minutes.

These make a great addition to the other items you have in your combustion kit.

Using Survival to Improve Your IQ

I have always said that survival and bushcraft helps to make our brains better. It offers problem solving, creativity, the creation of new neural pathways, and building of social skills. The human brain is fascinating and even as we get older we still need to keep exercising our brains. Building and expanding the super hiways of knowledge and skill not only keeps life more interesting, but can actually reduce the onset of age related disease such as Alzheimer’s

This morning I found this great article and it happens to be from my Emergenetics instructor, Dr. Geil Browning, who is also the co-creater of Emergenetics. Please take a look at the article later, in the mean time I thought I would expand on her viewpoints into our world of survival and bushcraft.

Below I have used Geil’s ideas for building your intelligence and converted them into how survival and bushcraft training can work as an activity base to build better intelligence.

Seek Novelty

While some programming of our body is “hard wired” into us at birth through DNA, we also create new neural pathways every time we experience something new and different.



Survival and bushcraft training place you in a novel experience from the start. In my early studies with Dr. Jon Johnson of Team Leadership Results, he focused on how new and novel experiences are a platform for creating the experiential learning environment. Setting up a shelter in the woods, starting fires with new methods, and simplifying your gear to 8-12 items for a weekend hike are all part of a new experience. Taking a class in firecraft, wild edibles, or even 18th century sewing are examples of new experiences that will help build new neural pathways.

Challenge Yourself

When asked, most of us would agree that its’ life’s experiences that teach us the most. We need to learn new things every day of our life just to sustain ourselves.

The pathway along which information travels through the neurons of the brain is a neural pathway. A neural pathway created through life’s experiences. Imagine you lived in the woods and you had to walk from your cabin to a near by stream, but there isn’t a path. As you meander through the woods to the stream each day you begin to form a small path. Pretty soon, the path is wide enough you can ride a bike for faster access. Not only have you built the pathway, you have created a mini-highway to travel on. You know it so well you could navigate it without thinking about it. The only way to make it more challenging is to do it at night, or in the snow, or even walking backwards.


Once you have acquired skills such as making fire, navigating using a map and compass, or purifying water by boiling it, you need to continue to not only practice to master, but rather challenge yourself through the use of different methods, tools, environmental challenges or by handicapping. I make on average 5-7 fires a week using various methods, none of which include matches or lighters. When I fell down the stairs a few months ago and had my arm in a sling, I challenged myself to build fires using only one hand, and at that, my weak hand to produce fire. To challenge your own fire skills you don’t need to launch headfirst into a wall, but you can try to create fire in the rain (or turned on sprinkler system), purify water without your normal kit, or navigate in the dark.

Think Creatively

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Survival and bushcraft training builds your problem solving and creativity skills better than many other methodologies. The more opportunities we have to solve basic issues in the outdoors and experiences we endure, the more we learn and grow. For the most part these experiences are a benefit even if we fail and don’t feel we had a successful or positive experience.11051824_813188598758137_1437814250976477492_n

Some of the best experiences I have had is when things were not going as panned and I had to think of new options. In 2003 I lost all my water while on a trip into Big Bend National Park. I had to find creative ways to make shade during the day so I could hold up when temps were soaring, find or extract water from plants and rock crevices, and navigate at night when it was cooler.

Another way to push creativity is by making your own gear. Anoraks, sheaths, and ditty bags are just of the few items you can start with to push your own creative skills.10425395_813166015427062_457774323447097901_n

Do Things the Hard Way

I get harassed allot for not using matches and lighters and that gasoline and flares make fire faster. But pushing myself to make fire by friction grows new pathways in my brain. I would take this one a bit further though and say to learn to endure discomfort as well. Having solid skills is one thing, applying those skills when the conditions are challenging are a step better.




On the surface we think of survival and bushcraft training as a solo endeavor. There is a whole network of people just like you who want to increase their skill level. Working through simulated problems, learning together, and even challenging each other builds strong friendships.



Here is a link to the original article by Dr. Browning: