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Survival Outings

One of the highlights of the year is when Troop 109 goes on it’s annual “Survival Outing”  This is the one outing during the year that scouts get to spend a night, as a patrol, surviving.  The basic agenda goes as follows:

  • Assemble at the North Scottsdale United Methodist Church parking lot at 6:30 on Friday, leave for our destination by 7:00PM.
  • Arrive at our campsite 2 to 3 hours later. Roll out, set up tents/Troop Kitchen in the dark. Be ready for Saturday morning.
  • Get up at daybreak, cook breakfast – scouts cook and eat by patrol, adults dine on a delicious breakfast cooked by the chef and his team.
  • Survival skills instruction time (from 9:00AM to noon). Scout skills instructors divide the troop into four groups. The groups rotate through the four stations every 20 minutes until each scout has been trained. The four skills areas are: shelter building, primitive cooking (no tools, pans or utensils), wilderness first aid, and proper building and handling of fire.
  • Eat lunch – scouts and adults eat a sack lunch brought from home.
  • Scouts head out to their predetermined campsite and search for their hidden food stash. The Troop prepares a cooler filled with all sorts of raw ingredients and hides it near a location that has been scouted out in advance and designated for that particular group. Each year, we get creative and fill the stash boxes with all sorts of healthy raw foods…some of which the boys would never, ever consider cooking and eating at home when pizza and Poptarts are available. Thinks like star fruit, squash, onions, prickly pear cactus pads, etc. We also put a few, more familiar items in there like hamburger meat or cuts of beef, potatoes, carrots, maybe one apple.
  • waterproof survival shelter
    109 Scout shows off his waterproof wilderness survival shelter. Later that night, he stayed completely dry as a fierce monsoon storm dropped nearly an inch of rain overnight.
  • Scouts spend the night surviving. Once each group finds their camping spot, they’ve got a lot of work to do.  They need to build survival shelters, fire ring, gather firewood, make a fire, find their hidden food stash, prepare and cook their meals and then enjoy the campfire and lastly, rough it a night in their hand made survival shelters.  During their survival time, teams of adult judges will make the rounds to each “survival site” and see how the scouts are doing.  Each group will be judged on the quality of their shelters, how thoroughly they have used their ingredients, how creatively they’ve prepared their meals, the orderliness of their campsite and finally, their teamwork.
  • The next morning, scouts must break down their camp and dismantle their survival shelters.  Fire must be dead out and they must pass inspection before they are allowed to return to the cars and adult camping area. Winning patrols in the areas mentioned above will be awarded at a breakfast ceremony.
  • By 9 or 10 Sunday morning, we pack up and go home.

Survival Outing Rules

There are a few rules for a 109 Survival Outing:

  • Scouts may only take with them a sleeping bag, first aid kit and water
  • Scouts must light a fire without using a lighter or matches
  • No spoons, forks, pans, pots or cooking utensils of any kind
  • Groups must stick together
  • Survival groups must build enough shelter space for each scout to fit in

The Troop Committee and scout leadership gets together several weeks before the survival outing to plan its many pieces…training, food boxes, instructors, etc., must all be ready when it’s show time.  We’ve collected lots of tribal knowledge over the years and have learned what works best and what doesn’t. One book that I’ve used over and over is Paul Tarwell’s Camping & Wilderness Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book.  This truly is an amazing book that covers everything from shelter building, first aid, primitive cooking, knots, lashings, hunting for food…you name it, it’s in here. It has thousands of illustrations and step-by-step instructions.

OK, complete transparency time…we’ve used this book for years and I highly recommend it.  I’ve put a link here where you can buy it now from Amazon at the going price. This is an affiliate link that I set up and I get a small commission for my toil if you buy it through my link.  If you still want the book and don’t want a commission as part of the deal, you can get it by going directly to Amazon and searching for it. It will be the same price.


Inside Paul Tawrell’s Camping & Wilderness Survival guide. The best survival guide out there.

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