Lil tykes from Kateri School are running through the last traces of winter with Tom Scott and Shakohaiiostha McComber, learning all the tricks and tips about the wilderness and how to spend your days without a device in your hand every second. (Courtesy Kateri School)
Teens today feel like they just can’t get by and survive without their phones – Tom Scott and Shakohaiiostha McComber are going to prove otherwise.
The pair are in their fourth year teaching a wilderness survival course – “lands-based training,” Scott said – the ins and outs of bush craft teaching.
But there’s a catch: no phones or tech allowed – participants are only given enough tools to ensure comfort in the woods, if you know how to use them.
“The idea is to get kids out from the classroom and experiencing something educationally, but not scholastic,” Scott explained. “But also still relating it to science and developing your thinking processes – that’s what survival’s all about: adaptability.”
“We’re not using modern technology per se, we’re not buying expensive tents, we’re not buying expensive equipment – just bare bones, bare minimal tool set,” he added.
So far, the program’s ‘survivalists’ – mostly young boys, but some young girls from Kateri School – haven’t been too demanding as far as technology goes.
“I think just because a kid enjoys technology, I don’t think that exempts him from also enjoying wilderness and the outdoors,” Scott said. “For them, it’s a huge adventure.”
Starting from day one, the dozen or so students show up at KSS “ready for rain”: wearing rain jackets, warm socks, clothing that’s properly insulated.
For those who think surviving in the wild just isn’t something they could do, the first step, according to Scott, is dressing properly.
Then come the teachings of other essential “bush craft” tools: how to make a fire, how to find – or construct – shelter. How to find water, and make sure it’s safe to drink, how to use a compass. Scott adds that they also introduce how to use axes, knives and saws.
“In today’s world – none of them ever handled a knife – they don’t even know what a knife is. It’s not part of their daily life,” he explained.
“If you lived up north, by now, you’ve gone fishing with the family, you’ve gone on hunting excursions – you know how to use a knife.”
With the weekend teachings from McComber and Scott in mind, a child could theoretically live out in the bush for a week.
And although the weekend survival program currently offered does not make use of today’s modern tools – like the iPhone, for example – Scott says they’re not ruling out its possible benefits on future instruction.
For example, if they offered a teen-focused, advanced version of the program, they could come in handy for plant identification or animal tracking.
“The phone is today’s tool – it’s got a database in there, it’s got a camera,” Scott said. “You could use pictures to review that information for research.”