If you were spending a beautiful, snowy winter day cross-country skiing in the mountains and an unexpected storm suddenly made it impossible to return to your car before night fall, would you know how to survive? On Saturday, January 24, 2009, a group of adults headed into the mountains to participate in the Cottonwood Institute’s Winter Survival Skills Workshop. This one-day workshop was designed especially for adults who don’t have the time to take several days out of their busy schedule to practice these essential survival skills.
After meeting at Chautauqua Park in Boulder, and receiving all the appropriate gear, the students and their instructors snowshoed to base camp just outside of Ward, Colorado. Having only one day to learn a lot of skills, the group got straight to work. The students participated in a mock survival scenario, learned rescue methods and techniques, modern fire starting methods and how to construct emergency and Quinzhee snow shelters.
When asked about his experience, participant Art Stawski replied: “I enjoyed the course tremendously. I learned how to build shelters and start fires. I also learned the importance of using common sense and planning ahead. Conditions can change rapidly in the wilderness, and you should always have the knowledge to survive if you should have to spend a night or two out there.” Art will be going on a winter camping trip in the near future and plans on making a Quinzhee for his shelter. For Art, the workshop also provided a chance to meet people. “I especially appreciated the opportunity to meet some new people and hear their stories and experiences. I would recommend the workshop to anyone interested in winter outdoor activities, or just anyone who loves to be outdoors in general.”