It was all Jerry's fault.   Click on a picture for a larger view.

He said let's have a survival campout out at my place and just like a hungry fish I took the bait.

Yup for the past 4 weeks we have been learning survival skills. Making kits and talking cotton and fire and char and eating wild foods. That is enough to make any boy go Wildman on us!

So, there we was me and 8 boys from 11 to 16 years old. We had our many layers of clothes had to wear everything you brought or you left it at home. No sleeping bags, No pillows. No sleeping pads. This was the real thing. No tarps or even plastic sheeting. These guys were going survival man all the way.

Each of them did get or was given.
1. small bag of jerky.
2. small bag of dried fruit.
3. knife of their choice but they quickly learned a serrated knife fixed handle was best.
4. 1 gallon old green beans can minus the beans.
5. Fish hook and lure.
6. a few pieces of duck tape.
7. Fishing line.
8. Wal-Mart floral wire.
9. 6 waterproof fire starters they made out of 3 matches and 1 sheet of toilet paper and
dipped in wax.
10. 4 tea candles
11. 2 sheets of 11x14 tin foil.
12. 1 emergency blanket. (next time we will bring 2 of these)
13. 2 zip lock 1 gallon bags.
14. No flash lights. Next year I will allow a small head lamp. (Safety sake )
15. 1 large leaf trash bag. Tougher the better.
16. One water bottle. (I had a backup in the van when someone lost theirs or someone burnt the other guys in the fire when they were not looking...boys)

Saturday morning 9:00 am. Temps 37 degrees it was cool with no wind or rain in the forecast.
We arrived at Sandstone Ranch right on time. Commander Millhouser had been pruning cedar tree's and had been piling high dead limbs up and doing some general clean up and had a perfect spot down in the woods. He even cut down a ole oak tree that was about to fall over so we would not experience a widow maker first hand.

They boys quickly got to work building shelters. 3 of the younger ones shared one debris hut and 2 of the older boys shared one. The other 5 of us made our own debris hut. Even District Director Jerry had his debris hut made and ready. Thankfully all the tree pruning gave us a lot of material to make great shelters. The down oak tree provided good hot logs through the night and the other piles of wood around made wood collecting for fires easy.

Sat about noon we took a break from debris hut building to collect some farm pond water. Each boy brought his own water bottle, 1 gallon can, bandana and 1 piece of tin foil to cover the can as we traveled back to our debris huts. Soon they were building fires and boiling water. They learned how to put the bandanas to use by covering the cans and running water through it to take out the junk in the water after about 3 times it got debris free. Then they boiled the water and then covered it and put it in a safe place.
They learned Shelter, Water/fire so far.

They were getting hungry and ate most of their jerky and dried fruit. WE worked on debris huts some more and gathered leaves. Each hut needed about 10 bags of leaves I think they learned that more leaves the better. Yet boys are a tad bit lazy and will learn a leaf lesson the hard way unless we turn into Joe Drill Sergeant and keep them to the task at gathering leaves. The did a pretty good job and I was pleased.

At 4 pm with temps in the mid 60 degrees and no wind and sunny we moved to fire craft with magnifying glass
(they had no success 2 weeks before because of a late evening sun and not the right stuff) this time they
had fires quickly and learned about char wood, steel wool and bow and drill (no success at bow and drill and I told them that I had 20 dollars in my pocket and if I was a betting man I would bet that none would get a bow drill fire going as I have found them to be too young to master the task.... I don't bet and it was a sure thing no one got a fire with bow and drill.) In a few years they will.

Moved on to rewards. They had identified 14 edible things at Sandstone Ranch and Jerry was a major player in identifying and instructing on that. So after Shelter, Water, Fire and nature study they earned a potato and a egg. They soon had them back at their debris huts boiling purified pond water and eggs and potatoes. Even with out salt and butter they scarified them down...not one turned up nose! O'h yes we trapped a bag of baby carrots!

Sat night at 7:30 pm we had a fire starting contest to light the council fire that had 30' flames in the prime of the fire. The boys used various methods and one of the 16 year olds had the fire going in seconds. Pocket knife handle and a waterproof 3 match candle wax fire starter. All the boys got a fire going and soon the FIRE WAS ON!

Just before Jerry brought on the council fire devotion we trapped a bag of apples and yum they were good. Jerry talked about shelter and relayed a story from his boyhood of beating hornets at their own game...trying to keep him from way!

We enjoyed a evening and early morning hours and mid morning hours and late morning hours laying around the camp fire with only emergency blankets and the clothes we had on. Temps low of 41
degrees..............brrrr........not bad...........burrr.............not bad...... Only 2 stayed in their debris huts while the rest of us circled the fire from head to toe all the way around. Yup, I got a boot to the head in the middle of the night but it wasn't intentional. I got up 4 or 5 times and put more wood on the fire. My hut was pretty comphy but the laughter of the boys around the fire got me up 2 times to check on them and then finally I gave up and pulled up some dirt and laid down around the fire to. I reminded them that if they watched much of the survivor shows the survivors didn't get much sleep..they just kind of rested and kept the fire going. They often would sleep during the warm of the day.

Sunday morning...all but the 2 in the debris hut welcomed the morning sun up and were thankful for it. It was a long night but.... "we da man" and we had a tale to tell and an experience to share. Soon Commander Jerry showed up from his night in his own debris hut and we trapped up some bacon and eggs. Boys and leaders were busy cooking, boiling, frying and soon eating a delicious meal. Some a little more cooked than others but it was still good. I know cause I was there.

Morning devotion was held just after we cleaned up our debris huts and our camps and got it all back to the church van. We talked of Paul and the new covenant and his many trials and tribulations and the ultimate survival tool is knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. That's victory over every situation.

On the way back we stopped at Casey's and trapped licorice, gummy bears and sour worms. Can't go on a survivor campout with out eating worms now can you.

Blessings in the Name of Jesus Christ. The boys learned some great skills and ask them about their vigil.

Mark Jones   click on a picture for a larger view.