Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Road to Heaven is Paved with Snow !

With the Beyond the Fire School of Survival Winter Survival Level II Course only 10 days away Instructor John and I have been feverishly preparing for the arrival of the students.

With the classroom instructional phase ready, the field exercise equipment sorted and ready, the survival locations selected, GPS'd and ready, and the instructor's itinerary complete, John and I stood staring out into the white wonder and realized - we were ready.

This year has been an amazing year of growth and discovery for Beyond the Fire.  From the decision to construct the cabin in the bush to the extremely tough decision to start offering courses outside of our non-profit work.  We have spent countless hours in the bush sharing, teaching and learning.

It all hit me yesterday when I was driving to the cabin with Junior Instructor Luke.  I stopped the van, placed it in park and got out.  He asked me what I was doing.  It was in my response that I realized the bush, the cabin and the winter wilderness were my heaven.  In that moment of time I was lost in the perfection that existed without the sights and sounds of the city, the coffee shop, work or any other of life's stresses.  This place just off the beaten path was a piece of relatively untouched land that mother nature had blessed us with.

It was then that I knew - My road to heaven is paved with snow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Kids are the Future. So Teach them !

Over the past 6 years I have been provided with the amazing opportunity to use my knowledge, skills and abilities as a Search and Rescue Operator for the Province to share those skills with the youth within my community.

I have always been a huge fan and supporter of Scouts Canada and what they do for our nature deficit children.

Since starting Beyond the Fire School of Survival we have extended our bush skills and experiences to Scouts Canada and been provided some of my most memorable moments as a survival instructor in return.

It is one thing to instruct a group of adults who have life skills, bush skills and their own ideas of what works and what doesn't work.  But to be truly honest I would take 30 snowsuit wearing kids into the bush long before I would attempt 8 adults. 

Children are sponges.  They listen, they learn, they ask questions and then they do it.  You can see the enjoyment and thirst for knowledge written all over their faces. 

In the bush we always say that there is no room for egos.  Mother Nature is the boss and she is tremendously unforgiving.  Adults tend not to truly understand or respect this fact.  On the other hand kids get it. 

Two weeks ago Instructor John and I were invited to instruct approx. 30 Cubs and Scouts about winter survival shelters.  It was an amazing opportunity to once again share our experiences and knowledge with the kids.  I am a true believer in the teaching methods of "See it.  Touch it.  Feel it.  Build it." 

The weather could not have been more perfect given the topic.  The snow was falling in great amounts and the scene was set for a true winter survival situation.

There is no greater calling in the life than to be a teacher.  There are no greater students than the youth of Scouts Canada.  Thanks again to all of those involved and we truly cannot wait until we do it again.

The big white spots say it all.  What a great night with 30 kids looking on.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bushcraft Canada

It only takes a few minutes on any internet search engine like Google to realize that there are very few Canadian Survival Schools and even fewer quality survival equipment resources.

Over a year ago I completed one such search on google and came across "Workwear Canada".  It definitely didn't sound like a survival equipment resource type company but none the less I had nothing better to do so I tapped the mouse twice.  Much to my surprise that double click led me to what I consider to be one of the best pure survival based equipment resources.

Many companies and shops sell survival or extreme camping type equipment but that does not make them a resource.  A survival equipment resource is a company or person who doesn't just sell equipment but rather researches, procures, tests, evaluates and only after all that does he sell it.  Not only does he sell it but he will answer emails and telephone inquiries about the equipment and provide sound advice based on person knowledge.

Paul Robinson is the owner of Bushcraft Canada, formerly Workwear Canada.  Paul is that survival equipment resource.  His company has seen rapid growth in the quantity of equipment he carries and his personal knowledge has made him my absolute favourite resource.

Paul is at home in the outdoors and it is there that he puts the equipment through its paces so that he knows that he is only carrying the very best products for the job.

Bushcraft Canada and Learn Bushcraft Canada have supported us here at Beyond the Fire School of Survival and this form allows us to return the favour. 

So take a few minutes and visit Paul at http://www.bushcraftcanada.com/ or http://www.learnbushcraft.com/

You will agree that Paul carries a great line of products that will suit the beginner as well as the expert outdoor enthusiast.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Let's Talk Tinder.

With the winter having a firm grip on the Canadian wilderness I thought it a great time to get back to what we here at Beyond the Fire School of Survival find to be the primary skill necessary to keep you alive in a winter survival emergency.

Although the successful outcome of any winter survival emergency will be the combination of many knowledge, skills and abilities it is no secret that in the winter fire is life.  In the winter months fair weather fire starters and outdoor enthusiasts will find the seemingly simple act of starting and maintaining a fire very difficult.

This difficulty comes down to the lack of great tinder sources, dried and readily accessible.  So it goes without saying that being knowledgeable, practised and prepared in the art and science of winter fire starting is an absolute if you intend to enjoy any outdoor winter activity.

Last year I posted an instructional video that I created on the creation of char tinder using natural materials.  This post became a major discussion piece that intrigue many people both new to survival topics and those who are well versed in survival skills.

Since that post and the resulting discussion, the char cloth and char tinder teachings have become a main stay on our Beyond the Fire School of Survival Art of Fire teachings to Scouts Canada.

So for those of you who may be new to the site I thought it fitting with the weather outside to re-post the video.  If you enjoy the video or have any questions please feel free to drop me a line or a comment.

Never go out into the great Canadian wilderness without the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to survive a winter survival emergency. 

                           PREPARE TODAY ... SURVIVE TOMORROW !

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Snow Creations Have Begun.

With the holiday season complete and life starting to resemble something normal again I decided that it was a great time to escape to the great outdoors.  The boys have been bugging me for weeks to gear them up and take them to the bush for a day fun.

What's great about the boys is that to them fun in the bush isn't throwing snowballs or making snow angels.  To them fun is building snow shelters, debris shelters, scouting for sign of rabbit and drinking bush hot chocolate or pine needle tea.

So when they say "Dad can you take us to the bush for some fun?" I jump all over it.

With snow suits on and shelters on the brains the boys each took a stab at creating their own personal quincee to survive the day in and retreat to when the cool breeze of a January day in Ontario came whipping across.

Junior Instructor Justin adding a wind wall to his quincee.

This time for them is an opportunity to escape the reality of school, chores and the endless demands of the Minor Hockey schedule.  It also provides an opportunity for father and sons to bond in a very unique way.  A way that has seemingly been forgotten.  There are so many amazing opportunities to teach and learn not only bush skills but important life skills as well.

With several Scouts Canada winter survival field exercises upcoming it was a great day to get out and gather supplies necessary to instruct them in shelter and fire building techniques.

Don't forget to visit regularly to see the photos that will be posted after our February 10th-12th Winter Survival Level II Course.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's Not About The Kit !

The successful outcome of any survival situation does not come down to the equipment you have or the skills you've read about in a book..

Survival is about your preperation, your desire, your determination and your will to win against all odds. It is a mindset..

It is the animal that lives within you..