I just recently completed a move into a new home. The boxes were everywhere, organization was nil, and there was this twinge of anxiety as I realized that I wasn't really sure where everything was. As I glanced around the room while taking a sweat break I was put into a state of massive inactivity. I just sat there. Individually, all things were familiar but collectively it was a strange mess....But, I did find something interesting. An old file labeled "Survival". I enjoyed taking a look at old articles that I had cut out of magazines. There were hand written list for survival kits, camping lists, dream list and a ...letter? Yep, there was letter from my long time best friend. Best I can piece together it is twenty years old!
It's a perfect example of how you can train and practice skills even if your partner is not your neighbor. Imagine getting a bundle of letters in the mail with sequenced instructions for you to follow. I called it a "Capsule Adventure". I'll share the letter just as it was written twenty years ago, complete with grammar and spelling errors. You can adopt or adapt the concept, add some of your own creativity and experience some useful training and skill development. Reading back over the first of these letters, I recall that we started off pretty straight forward. We didn't even know what a BOB was. Later we were downright diabolical. You'll see those possibilities as you read on.
So here it is, the first Capsule Adventure. The first envelope was labeled,
OPEN THIS ENVELOPE FIRST.
You are about to embark on a Capsule Adventure. Enclosed you will find several envelopes. You must not open any of the envelopes until you are instructed to do so. I repeat!...DO NOT OPEN ANY OF THE ENVELOPES UNTIL YOU ARE INSTRUCTED TO DO SO! If you open any of them out of sequence it will ruin the adventure and cause potential damage to our friendship.
First of all, you must become familiar with the premise of this adventure. Everything that is suggested is very important. It is a test of your skills as an outdoorsman. Every detail is important, and any additional planning that you may choose to include is up to you. As an avid sportsman it is understood that you have prior experience and should be prepared for the unexpected and be able to perform certain functions in the event of an emergency.
The date you may wish to go on your adventure is up to you. YOU MUST FOLLOW EACH STEP COMPLETELY BEFORE GOING TO THE NEXT STEP!
Here is a list of requirements before you begin:
(Yes, there is a slight investment, it should cost less that $40. You might be able to borrow some needed things.)
1.A Polaroid camera and a ten pack of film.
2.A survival day pack or fanny pack. (Contents are up to you)
3.An air Rifle or 22LR gun is suggested. (Your choice)
4.You need a place to go. Several acres of wooded land, outside of the city. The bigger the better. You might be required to shoot your gun.
5.You need some time. I would suggest half a day to give time for travel and return for unpacking, etc. Plan on three or four hours of functioning in the wild. Your time should not be under pressure. You should be able to relax and have an enjoyable outing.
6.A pen or pencil and a notepad. (Bring the envelopes, of course)
This adventure is based on the honor system. Yes, you could look ahead at the envelopes and I possibly could never know. But just think of what you could possibly miss out on...adventure! Experiencing the unknown. This is a test. You will be evaluated. You will be asked to complete the adventure forms. So, before I lead on too much, make your plans and get your gear together.
One more thing, although this is designed to be completed solo, you could choose to take a buddy along. Whatever the case, be honest and have fun. I await the results.
OK, that's the introductory letter. At the time, we were heavily into German made precision air rifles so you can see the reference. Digital cameras were out of the question also. You'll see the camera use as we continue...
To be opened when you get to the adventure area and get out of your truck.
"Hello, I'm glad that you have decided to participate in the capsule adventure. I trust that you have prepared your gear and are ready to begin. REMEMBER...FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE TEE.
After you have put on your pack, checked all your equipment, shoes, gun, etc. take a compass reading and become familiar with the location of your vehicle. If you are familiar with your surroundings already, do it anyway. You are about to travel for a few hundred yards.
Choose a direction that has enough room to move.
Take your time.
(Oh yea, you "do" have a compass with you...don't you? If you don't you should be ashamed and are heading for trouble already.)
We are going to set up a hypothetical situation where you are going to test certain survival skills.
Question number one...Do you have a compass with you? Yes No
OK hit the trail and travel slowly. Observe everything around you and move quietly. Open envelope #2 when you are at least two hundred yards away from your vehicle. It is preferable that you not be able to see any sign of city life...............
Contents of envelope #2
Cover letter to number two.
Welcome to the wilderness. The truth is that you are not just on a casual walk. You were flying a 172 from Memphis to North Carolina and you had electrical trouble. You were not able to radio for help. Fortunately for you, you are a good pilot. You selected a good place to put the plane down and made an adequate landing. You are safe from harm but the plane is trashed.
You have managed to save the gear that you have with you, and that is all. You got away from the aircraft before it fell into a deep gully. It did not catch fire so you can't hope for someone to see the fire and smoke. As best you can tell, you are several hundred miles away from anyone and it looks like you are going to be there for a few days. Please proceed to the instructions........................
How was your walk? Please take a few moments, and make some comments on what you observed on your walk. Use some scratch paper that you brought with you.
And speaking of what you brought with you. It is time for verification photo number one. Choose a clear area and lay out your gear in a small area so that I can take a look at what you brought. Take the photo and make a list of all the things you have with you.
And now it is time for......
SKILL TEST NUMBER ONE.
Build a fire. Time yourself. You will not be required to cook or signal with the fire. This is only a fire building test. When you have a small fire going, take verification photo number 2, of the fire.
How long did it take you to build the fire? _____________________
Did you use a lighter, matches, or other? (Circle one)
As you know, the art of building a fire in the wilderness is an important skill. No matter what the weather conditions, or materials at hand, a fire can save your life. Cooking, warmth, signaling, or just to pass the time away. A fire is a good thing when it is under control.
GOOD JOB! Now, hang out there for a few minutes and enjoy the experience. When you are ready, put the fire out, and make the area look as if you haven't been there, and travel any direction well away from the fire area and get into a different looking landscape. When you get there, open envelope number 3.............
Good job traveling in the wilderness! According to most survival suggestions, the proper thing to do in your situation is to find shelter. However, in this capsule adventure, we are going to skip the shelter building skill test and stick to some more "hands on" quicker skill tests.
Please take a few moments and describe your surroundings.
SKILL TEST NUMBER TWO
Search your surroundings for something edible. It can be plant; animal or mineral...even insects. Try to be realistic and find something that might give you energy and help your situation should it prolong a few days, even weeks. Assume you have consumed all edibles that you carried with you. Gather now...
And now it is time for verification photo number three. Take a picture of the edible thing and describe it for me...
Now you may eat it or throw it away. Proceed to a place where you can shoot your gun. Then open envelop number four...
You will find enclosed, a target. There is only one and the reason there is only one is because in the wilderness there is often only one. Only one chance to bag your game. Protect yourself from dangerous animals. Or even protect yourself from those "Deliverance" type people! Ha Ha
SKILL TEST NUMBER THREE
Place the target about twenty five paces away and attach it to a tree or other appropriate place. Once again, we are on the honor system. Fire three well places shots toward the center of the target. Testing will take into consideration the type of gun you are shooting.
Now take verification photo number four of the target and your weapon from the place where the shots were fired. Send back the photo and the target.
You may now open envelope number five....
OH NO! Wild dogs have come upon you! You had to take up everything and run. In the process, you lost your ammunition. That's right. No more bullets or pellets, no more nothing.
SKILL TEST NUMBER FOUR
Make a trap or suitable fishing apparatus. (Provided there is water nearby) This test should involve the use of your knife. Show me some handy work and take verification photo number five.
The object is to make preparations to get some small game for food. After your task has been completed, take photos number six and seven of whatever you choose. Be sure and send them in with everything else. Please include a description of what is in the photos.
Well, well. The weather has changed a lot! A cold front has blown up and the temperature is dropping. This would not be such a tough situation, however, you have been out here for a week and the conservation of body energy is important.
What would you do? (Take verification photo number 8)
That was SKILL TEST NUMBER FIVE.
Travel for a hundred yards or so and open envelope number six....
Probably the most important survival tool is the proper attitude. I trust that you have kept a good attitude throughout this adventure. The next skill test cannot be verified by photo. But then, we are on the honor system.
SKILL TEST NUMBER SIX
Take note of the time.
Spend thirty minutes just being where you are. If you wish you can walk, whittle, or whistle. Do a minimum of physical tasks. Think if you wish.
When your thirty minutes are up, travel back to your vehicle and open envelope number seven.
Envelope # 7
Congratulations. You have completed your first Capsule Adventure! I think you will agree that I went easy on you since this was your first time.
Place all photos, notes, and paperwork in the envelope provided and seal it up for mailing right now. (This will help you avoid the temptation to "doctor" the results before you send them to me.)
When I receive them I will evaluate your outing and report the results to you as soon as possible.
Make sure you did not forget anything and travel safely.
(End of Capsule Adventure)
So that's about it. Just like it was written a long time ago. Reading back over that letter, it seems like we were just kids. As you can see, the possibilities for this type of exercise are endless. When you go to train, you can easily prepare for the training you plan to do. The surprise elements here can be very enlightening. Subsequent capsules we sent to each other eventually got done right mean. ("Go to the nearest shopping mall and open envelope number one..." or, "Set your alarm for 2:30AM and open envelope number one...")
Of course with digital cameras, PDA's and micro cassette recorders, you could have lots of fun and maybe learn a few lessons. Imagine getting a SD Secure Digital card in the mail from one of the more experienced Rubies? Whew!
Talk the concept over with your training partners near and far. Be creative. Have fun...
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