Last fall Nature Education Programs donated a “What 2 Know B4 You Go!” workshop to a fundraising auction for SCARCE, a DuPage County, Illinois not-for-profit environmental organization. The high bidder was an enthusiastic middle school teacher named Mike.

Mike had invited nine teaching colleagues, family members, and friends to join him for our presentation on Saturday, April 27th at Lincoln Marsh in Wheaton, Illinois. And the selection of date and location couldn’t have been better. The previous week had seen drenching rains and local flooding in the area, but this day was a gift from the Natural World–blue skies, white clouds, temperatures in the mid-60’s, and a soaring red-tail hawk who returned to air-patrol a nearby field several times during the 3-hour program.

The group listened intently as Ron told the stories of six different folks who made some serious mistakes while enjoying wilderness adventures or encountering wilderness emergencies. After a break the 10 participants scoured the landscape collecting forest debris to fashion the beginnings of a weather-worthy shelter. Of course all of the natural material was returned to the forest when that segment ended.

Water and fire were the next topics of discussion and demonstration. Getting the gift of fire from the bowdrill was not to happen on this occasion; after four attempts with two different woods Ron conceded that it was not to be. (Mike later noted that we had already received the gift of the red-tail hawk, so maybe that was our “quota” for the day.) Mike was then invited to demonstrate fire-starting with a flint & steel, a procedure he and Ron had practiced before the grooup had arrived. When Mike struck steel to flint and threw a spark into the waiting tinder bundle, the bundle burst into flame, much to the delight and amazement of the audience.

The afternoon ended with Ron recommending 6 essential items for a personal survival kit and giving each student two of the items to take home. All of the participants lingered for a while after the program, asking questions of Ron and purchasing some of the other items available for their personal survival kits.