Timber – While Boy Scout activities can often be intense, the annual wilderness survival outing put on by Boy Scouts of America Troop 581 from Banks, Oregon is not in tents. That’s because the Scouts must build a shelter and fire and sleep in it overnight using only materials found in the woods and the Scout Outdoor essentials. The popular skill building event is held every November, usually on a private location about a mile north of NW Timber Road and NW Strassel Road.
This year, the troop was joined by Cub and Webelos Scouts from Pack 581 as well, who helped build a small shelter and gather firewood for the cold night ahead.
“You need to remove your rain gear before building a shelter.” said Tavo Sotto (pictured above), 15 and a 1st Class Scout, already an accomplished outdoorsman, “If you don’t, the exercise will make you sweaty and you’ll have gear that is soaked through.” Tavo knows what he’s talking about – this summer, he did a solo hike through the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail, a 460 mile journey.
This is a serious concern, as wearing wet clothes in a survival situation, especially in the Coast Range in November, could prove dangerous or even fatal. “Don’t wear cotton!” another Scout said.
While it it could be dangerous in a real survival situation, the annual wilderness survival trip is done in a controlled environment, with adult backup and just a short drive out of the mountains and back to civilization. “It is a great opportunity for the Scouts to get out and enjoy the outdoors and practice their wilderness survival skills in a contained environment.” says Joe Steigerwald, Scoutmaster of Troop 581. “The most important thing to do in a survival situation is not panic,” he says. “This event will give the Scouts the confidence they need if they are caught in a real survival situation.”
“And we hold it in November, so they get the whole experience, terrible weather and all.”
For more info on the activities of Troop 581, visit their website.