A good way to prepare for potential emergencies is to read and learn from informative books with practical, usable information. “Camping’s Forgotten Skills: Backwoods Tips From a Boundary Waters Guide” by Cliff Jacobson is one of those literary resources that should be part of any survival or prepper library.
By Leon Pantenburg
The book was first published in 1992. Author Jacobson is an Eagle Scout, a teacher and guide in the Boundary Waters. He has written 11 other wilderness-related books.
Jacobson writes that it’s important to have high tech equipment, and know how to use it. But (and here’s where we get into the survival common sense philosophy) what happens if you become separated from your stove when your canoe capsizes? How will you repair a large tear in your tarp or tent fly? Can you start a fire to prevent hypothermia?
This book is full of old tried-and-true techniques of camping and wilderness survival and grownup Boy Scouts will recognize some of the techniques. The book shows such skills as how to make a lean-to and bed out of pine boughs. And it’s interesting to see how to make a reflector oven out of a metal rectangular gasoline or vegetable oil.
Other little-used skills include improvising camp implements out of tin cans, a packsack out a leg from a pair of jeans, and a tent from a tarp.
But, you might think, I already have the gear and set-up for wilderness survival and shouldn’t need to improvise anything. Why read this book? Isn’t the common sense approach to have the gear and know how to use it?
The common sense answer is: When it comes to saving your life, you can’t know enough. This publication fits into the “Be Prepared” mantra of the Boy Scouts, and improvisation in making or repairing equipment is something everyone interested in wilderness and/or urban survival should know.
Realistically, there isn’t enough real wilderness left to spoil any of it, no matter how remote the area. Go camping in some reasonably popular public campsite and make a bed of boughs, or a shelter by cutting down a tree, and you’ll get some infuriated wacko (like me!) in your face.
But it is possible that you end up with bits and pieces of equipment when your canoe capsizes in the middle of trackless wilderness. Or you may have to flee an office building that’s on fire or collapsing because of an earthquake.
In these similar survival situations, the only tools you will have are what you’ve got and what you can improvise. This book can teach you some skills that may prove to be invaluable.
Now, maybe your idea of survival is to go primitive. Your survival kit will consist of a survival knife knapped out of chert, and you’ll rub two sticks together to make fire. You will forage and hunt for food, and become one with nature in the tradition of the original inhabitants of this country.
Good luck with that. I admire people with the time and dedication to learn and preserve those aboriginal skills. But this book is not for you.
The rest of us can learn something from “Camping’s Forgotten Skills.” Camping’s Forgotten Skills: Backwood Tips from a Boundary Waters Guide
(I borrowed a copy of “Camping’s Forgotten Skills” through the local library’s inter library loan program, but copies are available through Amazon.com and other bookstores. The ISBN number is: 0-934802-79-3. In used paperback, it will cost about $5, plus shipping.)
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