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Course Instructors: Mors Kochanski along with others

Week long (7 day) courses on Wilderness Living Skills and Survival.

If you have ever questioned your ability to survive a wilderness emergency, these courses may be of interest to you. Seasonally oriented, they are designed to provide hands-on training in the skills of modern survival. Practising skills in a natural environment builds an appreciation and understanding of Nature on its own terms. As far as possible, survival skills are integrated with environmental awareness so that one eventually becomes physically and mentally comfortable in the natural wilderness.

There is a strong emphasis on the identification and usage of the wild plants said to be edible, useful, medicinal, magical and poisonous. Where applicable course participants begin making their own collections. Wherever possible, hands on activities are incorporated.

There are three variations of the basic format which have much the same outline:

  1. Survival, Cold Lacking Snow
  2. Survival, In Snow Depths Requiring Snowshoes
  3. Survival, Summer out of a Base Camp

Basic Outline of Wilderness Survival in the Northern Forests


  • Survival defined
  • The tools of survival and survival training defined

1. Clothing

  • Clothing is the most important factor in survival.

2. Fire

  • The twig method of fire lighting.
  • The feather stick method of fire lighting.
  • Kindling and fuels of the boreal forest.
  • The tools of ignition, matches, flint and steel, and the Zirconium rod.
  • The (4) most useful fire lays.
  • Extinguishing fires.

3. The Knife as a Survival Tool

  • Choice, safe use and sharpening of knives.

4. The Sleeping Bag and Mat

  • The role of sleep and sleeping bags in survival.

5. Water and Survival

  • The role of water in survival (dehydration)
  • The pot as a survival kit component

6. Shelter and Bed

  • Shelter of available materials.
  • Shelter as a survival kit component.
  • Beds of naturally available materials.

7. Cordage, Bindcraft and Basic Knots

  • Cordage and binding with natural materials.
  • The 7 most useful knots.
  • Nylon cord as a survival kit component.

8. Signals Signal Fires. Signal Mirror. Useful ground to air signals

9. Fasting or Living off the Land

  • When to fast.
  • When to live off the land.

10. Kits

  • First Aid.
  • Survival.
  • Other.

11. Travel

  • When to travel.
  • Using a map and compass.
  • The Roycraft pack frame.
  • Roycraft snowshoes (in winter).

12. Identification of the Natural Vegetation

13. Crafting with Natural Material.

NOTE: Skills covered during this course may include all or part of the above. However the instructor reserves the right to include or omit any skills, written or otherwise, depending on the availability of materials, insufficient class time, adverse weather conditions or class interest.


(The same outline applies to both summer and winter survival).


  • To define modern survival
  • To prepare the participant for the outdoor practical training phase
  • To cover the topics that are most conveniently presented through lecturing in the class room


  1. Defining the difference between survival and wilderness living skills.
  2. Preparation through training and simulation.
  3. Prevention, Mitigation and Rehabilitation processes defined.
  4. The mental processes in survival: calm vs panic, optimism vs depression, positive attitude vs negative attitude, understanding vs fear, biological vs mechanical time.
  5. Clothing, one of the most important factors in survival preparedness. How to dress for the practical bush phase.
  6. Sleep. Knowing how the make yourself comfortable enough to meet your need for sleep. The sleeping bag and mat as a survival kit component.
  7. Fire and survival. Fire lighting tools, kindling and types of fire lays. Students practice the flint and steel method of fire lighting with stone and broken hacksaw blades provided by the instructor. Students may put together a primitive candle lantern.
  8. Water consumption in survival. The pot as a survival kit component. Purifying water. Dehydration.
  9. The survival knife defined. Students learn sharpening and skilful use of the knife. Students construct and use sharpening boards in learning how to sharpen. Students carve a try stick and a netting needle.
  10. Basic navigation with and without a map and compass.
  11. The personal first aid kit.
  12. Survival shelters. Primitive shelters. The survival kit component ‘super’ shelter.
  13. Signaling to attract attention and communicating your distress. Signal mirror, flares and whistles. Students construct tin whistles and learn to use home-made signal mirrors.
  14. Additional tools. The Swede saw and the axe. The survival saw defined. Students may construct a miniature buck saw using a hack saw blade. Students may put together a Swede saw blade in a waist belt.
  15. Medical matters: dehydration, hypothermia, hyperthermia, UV rays, sunburn, eye injury, knife, axe and saw cuts, scalds and burns, frost nip and frost bite, headaches and other pain.
  16. Survival Kits. The more you know the less you carry. The less you know the more you carry.
  17. Fasting or living off the land. The hurdles to overcome before trying to live off the land.
  18. Sanitary consideration: doing without toilet paper, latrines, steam bathing to keep clean and the laundry.
  19. Cordage, knots, bindcraft and winches.
  20. Bush travel. The Primitive Roycraft Packframe. Travel in survival episodes. Students construct a packframe for use in the practical phase.
  21. Basic weather prediction.
  22. Wilderness hazards: animals, insects, stream crossings, lightning etc.
  23. The local wild plants useful in survival.



To cover basic survival skills in a bush setting on those topics that are not feasibly done in the classroom.


Fire Techniques

  • Match, zirconium, flint and steel and bow drill methods of fire lighting.
  • The parallel log fire for warmth and cooking.
  • Twig, feather stick and conifer resin kindling.
  • Pot suspensions.
  • Selecting fire sites and extinguishing fires.
  • Cooking over a fire.
  • Making bannock or fry bread.
  • Signal fire construction.


  • The basic open front lean-to.
  • The survival kit component super shelter.
  • Large group shelters if applicable.
  • Bough bed – stretcher construction.

Primitive Cordage, Bindcraft and the use of Paracord.

  • The Jam knot.
  • The other useful knots in survival.


  • The skill development in the use of an appropriate knife.
  • Construction of a buck saw and its use.
  • The use of axe or hatchet if appropriate.

Plant Study

  • Collecting and studying the common trees and shrubs of the area.

Natural Crafting

Added to the Above List on Winter Courses

  • Fires built on top of the snow if and where appropriate.
  • Twig torches.
  • Melting ice and snow for drinking water.
  • The quinzee and igloo and other snow shelters if adequate snow is available.
  • Primitive cordage and other binding techniques.
  • Ladder building with rope and poles.
  • How to net.
  • The use and construction of snow shovels.
  • Safe travel on ice.
  • The emergency Roycraft shi-shoe.
  • Using the toboggan in winter travel.

Added to the Above List on Summer Courses

  • Lighting and maintaining fire in the rain.
  • The winches.
  • Primitive cordage and other binding techniques.
  • Digging holes with a chisel pole and pot.

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