When Conor Keane raised his paddle to win a survival skills training with Cottonwood Institute, he didn’t know that later he would be up to his forearms in soil and pine needles.
Conor is part of We Ride 4, a recreational bike organization that raises money and awareness for awesome non-profits like Cottonwood Institute. He was introduced to CI through We Ride For’s Move for CI campaign, and a generous donation gave Conor and his 10 closest friends a day spent with two of our survival experts (or in this case his family and their friends).
The day began with a short drive to Wild Bear Nature Center’s property near Mud Lake in Nederland. They are about to break ground on a state-of-the-art nature center, but on a beautiful Saturday morning in early June, it was all long shadows and lodge pole pines as far as the eye could see.
The crew learned the survival rule of 3s and the 10 essentials system as a way of advanced preparation for emergency situations. Next we transitioned to the 5 Ws and an S – the mnemonic that teaches you where to place a tent or an emergency shelter.
With this knowledge in hand, they set out to build a bombproof (or at least rainproof) shelter that could keep them warm and dry in case of an unintended overnight in the woods. It’s important to understand the difference between a nature fort (think those aesthetically pleasing structures you made in the back yard as a kid) and an actual survival shelter that looks more like a mound of at sticks, dirt and pine needles. They won’t win a top prize on construction reality show, but they’ll keep you alive!
Of course, the highlight of the day was fire. For generations, humans have been drawn to the beauty, ambiance and warmth of fires. While we all can appreciate the good times we’ve had around a campfire, knowing how to light a one match fire could literally save your life. Furthermore, knowing how to start a fire without a match at all is a huge skill! All participants successful started a fire without a match at all using strikers and cotton balls.
We wrapped up the day with an understanding of how to procure or pack food and water and how to aid in your rescue. It was an awesome day and we’re so glad Conor and friends could join us!