“Everyone should have a ‘survival file’ stored in their minds to draw from should they find themselves in a pickle.” That’s the theme of a special Wilderness Survival Experience scheduled for June 22-27, 2015 at Seneca State Forest near Dunmore in Pocahontas County.
“Extreme vacations can be a sunny beach with pampered services, or it can be about survival with limited supplies and extreme conditions,” said Seneca State Forest Supt. Jeff Layfield. “West Virginia’s state park system has initiated a Wilderness Survival Course for individuals or families looking for real adventure without a lot of conveniences. It’s not your typical vacation. It’s a reality check, not a TV show.”
The instructor is Todd Longanacre of Forest Manna Outdoors. His goals for the six-day, five-night course are to sustain and preserve the primitive bushcraft skills associated with West Virginia’s proud Appalachian history, heritage and culture.
“It is my desire that participants will finish with a newly found self-confidence and rekindling of their innate human urge to survive in extreme conditions without modern methods,” Longanacre said.
“We’re excited to enhance the diversity of outdoor recreational events in the park system with programming that includes some extreme adventure, such as this primitive bushcraft experience,” said Sam England, Chief of Parks and Recreation. “This can be the vacation a family will never forget because they learned preparedness while enjoying the great outdoors.”
The cost of the course for an individual is $325 and for a family of the same household up to five individuals it is $650. Forest Manna Oudoors, LLC manages the reservations, adventure details including gear to bring or gear not to bring, consent forms for youth, and contact information. An additional $7 per person per night fee is collected by Seneca State Forest on arrival day. To enroll in “Wilderness Survival and Primitive Bushcraft Week,” contact Todd Longanacre at Forest Manna Outdoors, 304-531-3683 or email email@example.com.
How the survival course works. The course starts with a typical meet-and-greet day upon arrival to the forest. Then the adventure kicks into gear. Hiking to establish a primitive base camp begins the wilderness survival experience or, for some, an extreme vacation. Over the course of six days, participants will learn the basics of primitive bushcraft skills to include making cordage, establishing shelter, creating fire, foraging wild edibles, procuring and purifying water, land navigation, field sanitation and hygiene, fashioning tools, constructing traps and snares, preserving meat, preparing bannock and pemmican, bird/song identification, and plant and tree identification. Longanacre teaches how to forage for over-wintering beetle larva for breakfast. “It’s survival thinking. It’s part of the learning experience,” Longanacre said.
Prioritizing tasks in a survival situation and how to locate, construct or harvest essential tools, materials, and calories required to survive in a short-term situation are part of the learning experience. Workshops within the course will also focus on the very basics of primitive bushcraft skills utilizing the “Rules of 3” (for prioritizing survival tasks) and “Significant Cs of Survival” strategy (how to construct or acquisition a Cutting edge, Cover/Concealment, Container, Cordage, Calories, Combustion and Calm). Risk mitigation is addressed with “battle-buddy” foraging, universal whistle signals, bear-proofing, and teaching extraction methods to gain assistance in the event of health related illnesses or injury.