Thursday, May 12, 2011

Civilian to Survivor: Don’t Be Unprepared This Summer

It is hard to imagine that NOC Wilderness Survival School (WSS) began as an idea of Wilderness Medicine Director Jono Bryant’s just over a year ago. I recently sat down with Jono to get the latest scoop on his programming and the new courses and clinics for 2011. WSS will transform you from civilian to survivor this summer!
NOC now offers over a dozen specialty clinics and workshops and a three-stage progression to complete the survival school training. This makes it simple and easy to select the dates and courses that work best for you. WSS takes place at NOC’s private woodland, Hemlock Ridge, located in the remote Nantahala River Gorge surrounded by forest service land. Jono’s team of WSS instructors is comprised of ex-military and wilderness medicine experts.

Level I – Introduction to Survival
The first few days are most critical in surviving solitude in the wilderness. Whether it be due to a crisis or a navigational mishap, WSS Level I prepares you for the first 72 hours focusing on fundamentals, keeping a clear head while under pressure, the necessary basics and getting out alive. The three-day course covers six essential concepts:

• Shelter
• Fire Craft
• Food Finding
• Water Purification
• Off-Trail Navigation
• Rescue Signaling

Upon completion of Level I and three skills workshops, you’ll have acquired the skills necessary to progress onto Level II where these basic skill sets will be further developed and survival techniques refined.

Level II – On the Move
Statistics show that if you are not rescued in the first 72 hours, your likelihood of survival is significantly reduced. If you haven’t made it out alive in that 72 hour window, Level II will teach you the necessary skills for surviving with little chance of rescue for an undetermined period of time. All skills acquired in Level I will be refined and advanced in this two-day course. You will also learn:

• Advanced Natural Shelter Creation
• Making Natural Cordage
• Open Fire Cooking Methods
• Maneuvering Rocky & Steep Terrains
• Navigating Safe River Crossings

In order to progress to WSS Level II, students will need to complete a minimum of six survival skills workshops including Navigation, Plants for Medicine and Bow Drilling.
Level III – Extreme Survival
The final and most challenging course of WSS, this three-day clinic features the most challenging terrain and obstacles with limited food and resources. Level III is a simulation of an outdoor excursion gone terribly wrong. It ties together all of the skills you have learned along the way and pushes you to the limit while navigating through an undefined course. Upon completion of Level III you will be prepared for the toughest situations and will have proven that you are the Ultimate Survivor!
Skills Workshops
New skills workshops and advanced levels have been added to the roster this year. These workshops expand on basic skill sets you will acquire during the Level I and II coursework. You get to select the skills that interest you the most and master those in these hands-on workshops. Basic skills workshops are one-day and advanced skills workshops are two-day clinics. This year the following skills workshops are offered:

• Mastering the Bow Drill
• Advanced Shelter Building
• Primitive Angling and Fish Traps
• Advanced Trapping – Woodlands
• Tracking Intensive – Advanced
• Flint Knapping and Pressure Flaking
• Natural Cordage
• Plants for Medicine and Food – Basic and Advanced
• Map and Compass – Basic and Advanced

Youth WSS Camps
After a large number of youth participated in WSS clinics last year, Jono realized the need for more youth focused programs. This year he created a Father/Son Survival Weekend where the two will progress together through Level I with challenging, hands-on applications of all skills (yes, mothers and daughters are welcome too!). Camping is encouraged with ample lodging options available on site. Another cool program is the week-long Youth Ultimate Survival Camp where students spend 100% of their time outdoors. Campers will learn to navigate on their own using a map and compass, fish and prepare meals and even build a shelter to sleep in. This camp encourages independent thinking and teaches practical hands-on skills.

More Info
For more details about NOC Wilderness Survival School programs visit or contact Jono Bryant at 888.905.7238 ext 7190.

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