For the fourth consecutive year, Benedictine University hosted Nature Education Programs’ What 2 Know B4 You Go! wilderness preparedness workshop on its campus in Lisle, Illinois.

The class is designed to give outdoor enthusiasts, both experienced and inexperienced, some very practical knowledge on how to prepare for an outdoor adventure and what to do if things don’t go as planned.

The students heard six true-life stories.  Each had a lesson that would apply equally to travels in the wilds of Canada or to an out-of-state trip to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving.  Rules that apply to getting lost backpacking in Montana are no different than rules that apply to getting lost in your local mega-mall.

When would you stuff your clothes like a scarecrow?  What is the Rule of Threes?  Why is cotton a poor clothing choice in certain conditions?  Can I drink water from a mountain lake?  These are just some of the questions that were answered during the 3-hour workshop, while Iris filled the white board with a list of potentially life-saving hints.

A mid-afternoon break saw the participants on the university lawn collecting (pre-planted) materials that they used to build the skeleton of a primitive shelter.  In spite of some serious wind Ron was able to demonstrate the technique of getting fire by use of a primitive bowdrill.  While Simon convinced the audience that using a flint and steel firestarter was a bit easier and more reliable.  Safe sources of drinking water was the next topic of discussion, with one young person helping to demonstrate how to benefit from the phenomenon of transpiration; the natural discharge of water from your local oak tree.

As always, the audience received suggestions for the six items that Nature Education Programs considers critical to a personal survival kit.  And Iris and Simon passed out two of those items free to every student.

The afternoon ended with Ron telling a seventh story; this one about Rodney, the hunter who got caught in a South Dakota blizzard.  Unlike the other stories, this one ended without any issue because Rodney was properly prepared and knew what to do.

Judging by the post-class comments and questions, all who attended found the workshop very worthwhile.