Survival skills should be a graduation requirement for high school students. More specifically, students need to know how to filter water, navigate, make a fire, make a shelter, make food, and be able to perform basic emergency health techniques. These survival skills ought to be taught to help young adults be more dependent on themselves. In addition to being more dependent, these survival skills may save a life someday.
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Many people get lost in nature, especially hikers. There are roughly two thousand people who get lost in the wilderness in the US each year (Wanshel). And not without reason. Many of these hikers have something in common; inexperience. Whether they go off trail or go the wrong path, they have a difficult time surviving. It is not a matter of if, but had these hikers known how to navigate, they probably would never have gotten lost.
Many people get lost in nature and that includes myself. Around nine years ago, a little boy decided to explore the woods next to his house with his best friend. The boys were exploring, climbing, and just having a fun time. When they got tired, they decided to go back home. Around an hour or so passed and they realized that they didn’t recognize anything on the way back. They continued walking for what seemed like hours until they saw a police officer through a tree line. The cop drove them back home, and their parents didn’t even know they were gone. An anti-climatic story, but these kids had no knowledge on how to survive. Had the woods been bigger, they may never have gotten found.
My story is nothing compared to a man named Marco Lavoie. A man who survived three months in the wilderness. According to Russell Goldman from ABC news, Marco suffered from dehydration, starvation, and hypothermia. Marco went on a two-month canoeing-camping trip with his dog. According to Goldman, his camp got attacked by a bear. Most of his food gone and equipment destroyed, he some how managed to survive the cold bitter wild in Canada. He did not leave the woods unscathed. Before he was found, he lost nearly half his body weight. There was no clear answer on whether he ate his dog or not, but it is speculated that he did.
Both stories share a similarity. The people in these stories, don’t know how to survive with what they are given. Although Marco had the supplies to survive his trip, he was not prepared to lose it all. Basic survival knowledge may have prevented the boys from ever getting lost. Basic survival knowledge may have helped Marco leave the woods in semi decent health.
The first reason these skills should be taught is prevention of these incidents. The first prevention tool is navigation. As stated earlier in the essay, people get lost outdoors. Step number one to navigation: keep track of where you are going. Step number two: know how to use a compass and a map. In olden days, sailors would use the stars to navigate, this is not necessary if you always have a compass on you. Step three: let someone you know where you are going. Getting lost is scary, getting lost and not letting anyone you know where you are going is scarier.
The second reason these skills should be taught to students is awareness. Awareness in the aspect of what you eat, see, or hear. Knowing what berry you can and can’t eat may be the difference between life or death. It is important that you keep your eyes open as to not fall off a cliff, run into quicksand, and to watch out for predators. Of course, many predators have mastered the skills of not being seen by their prey, so make sure to listen for unusual sounds.
When I got lost on my trip, my awareness levels were high due to the fact I believed in the boogeyman. So, I jumped at the slightest sound of anything.
The third reason these survival skills should be taught is knowing how to survive without any gear. Knowing how to build a shelter out of dirt, leaves, sticks, or grass will keep you warm and safe from predators. Knowing how to start a fire with friction will also keep you warm. Being able to clean water will keep you from dehydrating. The ability or knowledge of how to hunt will give energy and will keep you from starving.
In survival situations, nothing is guaranteed to go smooth. All the knowledge in the world can’t keep you away from an accident. The fourth reason survival skills should be taught is to teach students how to perform emergency aid. Though in the rarest of occasions it can happen, knowing how to stop a deep wound from bleeding or how to resuscitate someone using CPR will help young adults be more confident on their ability to survive alone.
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Survival skills being a graduation requirement for high school students isn’t another way to torture them (metaphorically speaking), but to better the skills or values they already have. These values include but are not limited to: reliability, integrity, commitment, and accountability. It is important that these skills and values are instilled early on in order to ready students for the “real world.”
The big picture reason on why it is important that these skills are taught early on is to reduce dependability on technology. This new generation of people including me are growing more dependent on technology every day. It is slowly killing human to human interaction and is starting to be the cause of people’s laziness. If you take a walk around a public place, say OCCC, you will see many people on their phone or laptop just hanging out by themselves. If you exclude the people studying, you will find many people who are either on YouTube, Instagram, snapchat,
twitter, and more who aren’t out trying to talk to new people. There’s nothing wrong with being on social media, especially if you limit your time, but talking to people will increase your people skills. People skills are important in the real world because they can help you land a job, do a presentation, and make you seem more confident.
Survival skills being taught is a first approach on teaching this new generation on how to be independent. Many people these days rely on their phone to navigate instead of using street names. Being able to navigate is one thing but having confidence in yourself is another. These skills should be taught in the hopes that people can have enough courage to nail an interview, talk to a girl or boy they like, and wasting less time on social media. Whether or not it survival skills be a graduation requirement, it should be implemented as a class for students who are interested in the topic. They may just save your life one day.
- Goldman, Russell. “Hiker Survives 3 Months in Wilderness Following Bear Attack.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 1 Nov. 2013, https://abcnews.go.com/International/hiker-survives-months-wilderness-bear-attack/story?id=20754347.
- Mann, Brian. “More Americans Head Into The Wild Unprepared For … The Wild.” NPR, NPR, 25 Oct. 2017, https://www.npr.org/2017/10/25/559987030/more-americans-head-into-the-wild-unprepared-for-the-wild.
- “Safe & Found.” SmokyMountains.com, https://smokymountains.com/safe-and-found/.
- Wanshel, Elyse. “How To Survive The First 72 Hours When Lost In The Woods.” LittleThings.com, 23 Sept. 2015, https://www.littlethings.com/how-to-survive-in-the-woods?vpage=2&utm_medium=google.
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