For the second year, basic survival skills were taught at the beautiful Poe Springs County Park. Students discussed treating hypothermia, heat exhaustion/stroke, cuts, burns, venomous snake bites and broken bones. The students also got to practice several methods of carrying an injured party to safety. We also discussed and practiced several methods of alerting others that you are in need of help. The student’s favorite part of camp; however, was finding plants in the landscape that can be utilized in a survival situation. Campers were taught to identify and properly prepare edible plants. We first discuss the habitats and likely places that each of these plants can be found. Then we focus on how to identify the plants by looking at pictures. The students are then asked to take a walk through nature and identify all of the plants previously discussed that can be utilized for wilderness survival.
Understanding that this is a dangerous endeavor, the camp focuses solely on plants that cannot be misidentified as anything harmful. I designed and made a waterproof field guide that is given to each student and contains edible plant identification and preparation instructions. In addition, a detailed fact sheet that contains nutritional information as well as healthy, and tasty recipes for each plant was designed and made in collaboration with the Alachua County Family and Consumer Sciences Agent. We also focused on identifying and finding plants that can be used to build shelter from the rain and the cold. Cordage is key to constructing a sturdy shelter and Florida is ripe with plants that yield good cordage. The students were then shown the proper way to construct a ‘lean-to’ tent and were responsible for working together to create one.
We then focused on the ever popular methods of creating fire without a match or lighter.
The Wilderness Survival Day Camp seems to be very popular even though it has only been offered for two years. Students have returned to camp and have eagerly expressed interest in other topics for next year’s camp. They also stated that they would like the camp to be longer and that they wanted the chance to spend the night in the shelter they constructed. The camp was so popular that WCJB’s TV20, a Gainesville news station, did a feature about the Wilderness Day Camp on the 5 and 10 o’clock news; which is also available online for viewing anytime (see link below).