Heed the Call of the Wild and Learn Basic Survival Skills in Marin


Grab your space blanket, signal mirror, and water purification tablets! Adventure Out is reconnecting the Bay Area with mother nature while teaching primitive survival skills.

Adventure Out focuses on helping people fall back in love with their surroundings. For our Wilderness Skills and Survival clinic on Saturday, we headed to Camp Arequipa just outside Fairfax. The intimate class varied in age, experience, and motive, ranging from avid backpackers to ex-military to tech gurus. Of course, we all owned up to watching several episodes of “Dual Survivor” and “Naked and Afraid.”

The first rule was a cliché one, but important nevertheless: The Rule of 3’s. “You can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter [in less than ideal conditions], 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food, and 3 years without companionship,” our instructor Jack said a little too enthusiastically. 

He was humble enough to use the title “Survival Expert” but Jack, who currently resides in a self-made shelter in Santa Cruz and has a trunk full of hand made bows, arrows, fishing spears, and woven baskets in his girlfriend’s car, did admit to having lived in the wilderness completely naked for at least one month and recently returned from an extended period of primitive living and solitude. Thankfully, we were allowed to keep our clothes on as we tackled the first challenge. 

First up: shelter. Given the temperature and the surrounding materials, the debris shelter was our chosen abode. We foraged the hillside for sticks, leaves, and whatever else we could find. The structure (in idea) is simple: a cocoon-like shape supported by two Y-shaped sticks, a back bone running the length of a body, and rib sticks leaning against the backbone to give it shape. After 45 minutes, our shelter was a far cry from a room at the Four Seasons, but a solid start to a safe space that would keep you warm at night.

Confidence from our outdoor construction success was quickly tempered at the next lesson: fire. “Until you've created over 200 coals, you haven’t really learned the skill,” Jack explained. We were tasked to make our own hand crafted bow-drill sets, carving down blocks of cedar to create each of the four pieces. It took some time, but eventually everyone successfully created a coal and coaxed it into actual fire. (I’ll confess, I needed some help…my arm is still sore).

It may be a while before we forage the forest floor for lunch, but the education we received in the five hours could very well save a life. In the meantime, I’ll take Jack’s sound advice and stock our survival kits with Snickers bars for the best source of quick calories!

// Adventure Out hosts a variety of classes throughout the Bay Area including wilderness survival, surfing, rock climbing, backpacking and mountain biking.


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