Survival Training

As a father there are a lot of good moments and experiences to look forward to. When Tory and I were blessed with Noah our third child, not only was I excited to have our first boy, but also to have the opportunity to share with him the skills and training that my father shared with me.

Last year at the age of 6, I took Noah on a 2 day survival trip to Bennett Island, here in Southeast, Alaska. In preparation for this trip, Noah and I spent time building fires, foraging in the woods, building shelters, and discussing different animals found here in Southeast. I wanted Noah to get the entire experience of this weekend, so we decided to access Bennett Island with a double sea kayak. We loaded up our kayak with minimal gear and all the supplies that we would need for our adventure and headed out early on July 2nd, 2020.

Our kayaking portion took around three hours, as we paddled around to the back of the island, called Tattoosh Island. This area is comprised of small islands, and large rock outcroppings, with a few beautiful beaches that access the interior of the island. On our first night on the island we spent time going over the importance of setting up a good camp and why it is important for our tent, fire ring, and food to be evenly separated from each other. We started with our 2 man tent and hammock, and then quickly scavenged for enough wood to last us through the night and for our next morning. After making fire and eating dinner, we secured our food products high in the trees away from any curious black bear and began our night rituals.

The next day brought about breakfast with a teaching on his Alaskan Native culture as well as his Scandinavian history around the fire. We talked about the importance of character and of courage in times of adversity, and the importance of servanthood and honoring those who have gone before you. After our educational training we spend time working on our Scandinavian language and correlated it as well, as I could to his Haida language that he has learned as child.

After our time together, we gathered our gear for an exploration and gathering of fire starter supplies. We spent roughly 2 hours navigating the dense forest of the island, working on basic land navigation, following basic game trails, and how to stay from getting lost. We found a variety of amazing treasures, as well as green toads and eagle feathers. After collecting enough supplies for a dry tinder bundle made up of spruce sap and old mans beard, we headed back to camp. It was during this time that I taught Noah how to prepare a fire starting kit and the necessary steps needed to start a successful fire from a steel striker. It took Noah a few practices, but soon he was sending sparks all over the place. After zeroing his sparks onto his tinder bundle, he had a fire going in no time.

After starting his own fire, we worked on some defensive skills like fire hardening spear tips and how to successfully through a knife and axe. Noah has had practice in both of these areas, but excelled quickly and before I knew it he was increasing his distance and challenging his accuracy.

As the day progressed we decided to take to the kayak and spend the rest of the day circumnavigating the island as we explored beaches and to our pleasant surprise discovered a small Gold coin in the low tide. This find was a highlight to our trip, and one that brought up an abundance of questions on where it came from and how old it might be. Our conclusion was a sunken pirate ship, but this of course cannot be officially confirmed!

As we made our way around the island back home, we made it back just in time to enjoy the 4th of July from the comfort of our kayak, as we came in right before dark under the explosion and bursting of lights above us.

This was an amazing bonding experience, one in which neither of us have forgotten, and as we near summer our plans have started for our next survival trip together. We look forward to sharing this experience with you soon.

-Clint

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