The Lost Arts of Survival

I’ve thought about this subject many times. Since I read and reread Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and since I’ve watched the TV programs of Edward (Bear) Michael Grylls (Born Survivor), I’ve thought about it even more. The subject is the lost art of survival.  It also comes into my mind every semester when I teach Thoreau in American Lit, though I don’t know how much we could he really roughed it on Walden Pond. You don’t hear much about the wilderness and the Boy Scouts these days, and I really need to look into that and see what’s going on with them. It used to be that Boy Scouts were known to be not only smart, but pretty tough. For example, I know that the Army targeted the recruiting of Eagle Scouts for the jungle warfare in Burma in World War II.

In all my years of teaching high school and college, I find fewer and fewer who possess any of the basic knowledge and skills necessary to survive in a rural environment.  I decided to have my students make a list of 10 items they would choose to take with them in a survival situation in the wild, when they would totally depend on their own resources and wits.  The answers were surprising. Perhaps I’ll share them. However, I thought today I’d make and post my own list of seven items. Some of them do require some previous training, but really not that much. However, if you are skilled and knowledgeable enough, you might could get by with much less.

1) A Lensatic compass

2) A good multipurpose knife. (Some knives have hollow handles for fishhooks, line, meds, etc.)

3) Some means to start fire: (This could be magnifying glass, flint and steel, etc.)

4) A carpenter’s axe/hammer

5) Plastic sheet of some kind. (protection against rain, and in the desert can be used to distill water)

6) a canteen

7) a water purifier

There’s probably more, but this will do for now. The knowledge one needs—well, that’s another post.