Monday, December 31, 2012

Outdoor Survival Class Endorsement

I am already excited about the all the classes I'll be teaching in 2013 but my favorite class will always be outdoor survival skills. If you want to know more about what you can learn in the survival class and the ways it can benefit you, click on the link below to hear from one person's experience going through the class.

Check on my website at to see when the next Outdoor Suvival/Thriving class will be. Doesn't fit your schedule? I can do one on one trainings or small groups for a nominal fee dependent on what you are looking to learn. Do you really want to test your skills? Call me up and arrange for a winter survival class at a discounted price. I learned from one of the best, Art Sedlack, a former Park Ranger from Glacier National Park who took me deep into the park when there was over ten feet of snow and taught me how to thrive in the wilderness by watching the animals. During the cold, winter months it's even more important to watch and learn.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Soap Making Class Coming Soon!

The latest batch of soap with alkanet root for coloring came out beautifully! I infused lavender flowers in olive oil to preserve the properties and capture the scent and added a cup of infused alkanet root for a deep purple color. I prefer the cold method of infusion and added two tablespoons of alkanet root to a cup of olive oil and let it infuse for three weeks. Despite a lot of shaking and stirring of the infusion, the alkanet root remained in a pastelike form at the bottom of the glass container so I used cheesecloth to strain it out. Just after pouring the soap into the molds, I sprinkled more lavender flowers on the top for texture and scent. I am very happy with how the finished product looks and smells.

I have already been putting the other soaps to work. After curring for three weeks, they demonstrated a satisfying, rich, foamy lather. The calendula and oatmeal soap was blended with a mixture of essential oils that survived the saponification process and is a wonderful pick-me-up in the morning.

I'm very excited for the soap making class to be held Wednesday, January 30th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Greenfield Community Center, Room B. To see more details on that class and other classes coming up, go to my website We'll be making a couple batches of soap so that everyone can bring some home! It is a wonderful feeling to have created enough soap to last easily for a year or more. What started out as a way of becoming more self-reliant in creating my own line of hygienic and first aid supplies has turned into a passion for the process itself. It is easy to become addicted to the soap making process!

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Salves

Using wildcrafted plants, I have created two salves. The one on the left has olive oil infused plantain, yarrow, lavender, and calendula. Vitamin e is added for longevity and beeswax is added for an thickener as well as its medicinal properties. Beeswax is a natural nourishing moisturizer and is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-allergenic and a germicidal antioxidant. There are a lot of natural cosmetics that use beeswax. The properties of yarrow, plantain, calendula and lavender are no less amazing. They all have a long history of being used for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The amazing properties of these plants can be harnessed and saved if infused properly and added to a salve. They will always be a part of my first aid kit from now on.

The salve on the right is the same base as the left but also contains activated charcoal. You can find activated charcoal in any natural food store. Is is an amazingly powerful ingredient. The more I find out about its medicinal uses, the gladder I am that I have it in the house. Activated charcoal has been used for centuries to draw toxins out of both humans and animals. It can be ingested or used as a topical to draw out poisens. I had a friend who had an infection in her index finger. The site was puffy and filled with pus. She put the activated charcoal salve on it overnight and in the morning, the swelling had gone down and the pus seeped out. Now just a couple days later, the site is no longer sore and there is no sign infection. Great stuff!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Class Schedule for Greenfield City Recreation Department

I am excited to announce that Resiliency Training LLC will be doing a variety of classes for the Greenfield Recreation Department starting in January of 2013. We are already doing classes for the City of Milwaukee Recreation Department. Classes will include topics such as herbal soap making, cattail basket making, how to use a compass and pace to navigate, outdoor survival skills, how to build your own emergency water purifier, how to prepare for a disaster and how to identify and use survival plants for food, shelter and first aid. The classes range from $20 to $55 for residents of Greenfield and $35 to $60 for non-residents. The higher priced classes will be for classes such as the soap making and water purifier and include materials to create your own soap/purifier to take home with you.

These classes will be located either at the Greenfield Community Center located off of Forest Home Avenue or Konkel Park located off of Layton Avenue. To register for these classes, go to the Greenfield Recreation Department website.

To see the class schedule and register for classes through the Milwaukee Recreation Department, go to the their website.

Monday, December 10, 2012

More Soap Making - Lemon Balm Bliss

I have to say that soap making has become my new addiction! I love adding the herbs and infusing them in oils. My next one will be lavender infused olive oil with olive oil infused alkanet root for color and lavender essential oils! I have added my Resiliency logo with the old fashioned wax seal.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Marksmanship skills also important in outdoor survival

I have to say I was more than a little intimadated to enter the gun range at Fletcher Arms in Milwaukee, but my goal was to become more comfortable with various calibers of weapons. I wanted to  be able to load, unload and lastly to shoot a variety of guns. To my surprise, with the right teacher, I was not only able to hit the target but to also hit a few bullseyes after only one session. I am not a gun enthusist by any means but it was all part of my goal to become prepared and to feel more self empowered. It did make me feel more empowered but above all I came away feeling a lot more respectful of the power that is behind a gun. I was also very impressed by the staff of Fletcher Arms. There was a warm, welcoming feeling and my instructor, Bob Llanas, was very competent and a patient teacher. He emphasized being respectful of the gun and feeling comfortable with it long before entering the gun range.

I have had self defense and archery training and I think the mind set behind both was very similar to the philosophy that Bob emphasized. We talked about the importance of breathing and mental preparedness. In an outdoor survival situation, breathing and mental preparedness are also crucial and a part of the basics to stay alive. Knowing you can take care of yourself helps to eliminate some of the panic that is sure to try to take over. I have heard several times that in an emergency situation, people have the tendency to revert to a grade level mentality that inhibits them from getting themselves out of whatever situation they found themselves in. I can attest to that from a personal point of view.

I remember a summer between years at college while working in the Boundary Waters getting seperated from a group of friends. I suddenly realized I had no idea where I was and I felt the panic start to settle in. I even felt the strange desire to run which I did until I realized how much worse it was making me panic. So I stopped, sat down, closed my eyes and focused on my breathing which helped me focus my mind on the situation and think more clearly. I began to visualize being safe and knowing I had the knowledge to take care of myself for the short term if need be. My panic began to subside while I visualized creating a "home base" to practice the skills I had learned and felt myself getting excited about how I would make my debris hut. While my eyes were closed, I heard voices and kept my eyes closed until I could truly identify the direction they were coming from. I was able to meet back up with my friends but I never forgot that debilitating urge to panic and the way I got myself out of it.

I don't know when or if I will ever need my marksmanship training but I do know that the knowledge and skills I gained at the gun range have made me feel more prepared and empowered.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Five Gallon Water Purifying System

Water is the most important component during an emergency situation. Storing water can be a hassle from finding food grade  buckets that won't leach the plastic lining to rotating filled buckets to ensure you have clean drinking water should the water supply be cut off or a boiling emergency be announced. Having a system in place can relieve a lot of the stress you would experience in those situations.  I've created a water filtering system using two five gallon food grade buckets with a Doulton 10' Super Sterasyl Ceramic Gravity Filter Candle. This system would also be a great addition to a camping trip!

The specs for the doulton are fantastic! Doulton water purifiers have been tested and certified to The World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. EPA-approved laboratory standards, European-approved laboratory standards and the national laboratory standards of over 50 countries. In fact, they are the only products in this industry to meet the rigid standards of ISO 9000. This filter will take care of :

  • Pathogenic bacteria: Cholera, Typhoid, Salmonella, Serratia, E. Coli, Fecal Coliform >99.99% removal
  • Cysts: Cryptosporidium Parvum, Giardia Lamblia >99.99% removal
  • Sediment: Down to 0.9 micron absolute; 0.5 - 0.8 micron with a filtration efficiency of >99.99%
  • Organic Chemicals: Pesticides, herbicides and organic solvents removal Metals: Iron, Aluminum removal Taste & Color: Hydrogen Sulphide, Iron, etc. removal Doulton Super Sterasyl Ceramic Water Filter Performance
  • NSF Standard 53

  • Buy the whole system at

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    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    Winter Survival Tip

    Despite the fact that this has been an unusually warm fall, we can assume at some point that it is going to get cold. Hypothermia can be a very dangerous condition if you are caught unprepared when temperatures fall and you have a long way until finding a nice warm place. It is surprisingly easy to get hypothermia. Cotton clothes and any sort of precipitation are a bad combination. Once hypothermia starts to set in, you'll notice a variety of symptoms including:

  • Shivering. An early sign of hypothermia, shivering starts mildly, but can become more severe and finally convulsive before ceasing.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Loss of coordination. This might begin as difficulty tying one's shoelaces or zipping one's jacket, and eventually include stumbling or falling.
  • Confusion.
  • Irrational behavior (there have been instances where hikers took off their clothes as they body temperature fell.)

  • Building a fire is obviously a way to combat hypothermia but if you don't have the means or the time to do that, another alternative to warming up is to look and see what the animals around you are doing. The squirrel is an industrialist little critter that spends a lot of time collecting seeds and nuts but if you watch carefully, you'll notice him also collecting leaves. Look high up in the trees and you'll see giant bundles of leaves packed in around a nest. The leaves provide very necessary insulation for the squirrel. The squirrel nest is the inspiration to the debris hut that so many survivalists build but you can also use the knowledge to layer your clothes with leaves to stay warm too. So if you are walking along and start to shiver, just grab a bunch of leaves and start layering them inbetween your clothes. Word of caution though...don't put them against your bare skin!

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Thrive Movie Presentation

    This past Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a showing of the movie Thrive. It seems to fit in well with my overall life philosophy. I don't necesarrily believe everything that the movie promotes, but I do like the idea of the lifestyle that the movie promotes. That is, actions an individual can take to THRIVE. The movie encourages individuals to bank only at local banks such as credit unions, buy locally and engage in healthy eating habits which includes organic non-GMO foods. These are steps I have already taken and am already taking the next step which is to grow my own food. I believe in supporting local small businesses and try to avoid giving my dollars to big business.

    I also believe in self sufficiency which is why I teach classes on how to live a self empowered lifestyle. I don't want to have to rely on anyone in times of crisis so I make sure that I am prepared and have the knowledge to take care of myself. I don't ever want to be one of those people who cries for someone to help them in times of crisis. Towards this end I have gained knowledge and teach skills in:

    Plants for medicinal purposes
    Outdoor Thriving Skills
    Creating homemade beauty products
    Basic First Aid Skills
    Creating an emergency plan and backpack (typically called a To-Go Bag)
    Knowledge of how to create a homemade water filtering system
    Urban gardening

    I am curious to know what else people believe anyone should know about in the quest for a self sufficient empowered lifestyle. My next phase is to become energy independent. Some call this "living off the grid". This seems to be the hardest or at least most expensive form of self sufficiency. Does anyone out there have any ideas on how to achieve this in an affordable manner?

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

    Community Projects for Seniors

    On Thanksgiving morning, well over 400 people met at St. Francis in Milwaukee to put together over 4000 meals for seniors living in low income housing. We were placed in an efficient assembly line to cook, box and deliver the meals. The amount of planning that goes into coordinating this event was staggering and flawless. The age range of volunteers was from as young as eight to as old as ninety. The atmosphere was jovial yet every person there was putting 100% effort into what they were doing so that over 4000 seniors would have a hot meal and a little companionship on Thanksgiving. Volunteers drove right to the seniors' doors so they don't have to travel to get a meal during cold weather.  I was thankful to be apart of such an incredible effort and on going program. We will gather again at Christmas time and Easter to try to lesson stress, lonliness and depression for seniors during those times.  This is the type of community effort that brings out the very best in people. To find out more about this wonderful program, go to :

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    Milwaukee Time Exchange

    For those looking to save money (who isn't?), joining a Time Bank can be a great way to accomplish that. Those of us who live in the city of Milwaukee are very lucky because we have a well developed time bank we can draw on. The concept of a Time Bank is very simple. You offer your services (such as dog walking, cutting hair, carpentry work, driving someone to an appointment, helping someone move...etc.) and you gain hours or time that you can then draw on to get services that you need. For instance, let's say you need help creating a brochure for a new business venture you are embarking on. There is someone in the Time Bank that advertising that they offer marketing/brochure designing services. You contact that person through email or phone to set up a time to meet. Let's say the brochure took a totol of three hours to create. You both record the exchange in the Time Bank. You have used up three hours and the brochure creator has banked three hours which he/she can then use later on for services he/she may need. The brochure might have cost an average of $45 per hour so you saved yourself $135 by using the Time Bank!

    The services offered and used are extremely diverse and only limited to an individua'ls creativity. I recently used the Time Bank to help me with a dent in the side of my car. There happened to be a woman in the Time Bank who had just purchased the suctioning tool to pull dents out of cars. When you start to think of all the skills and knowledge that are available in the Time Bank, you begin to see the world through a filter of cost savings and relationship building opportunities. Another great part of the Time Bank is the monthly potluck meetings/orientations that take place in different parts of the city. Last month there was one held in Bay View. This meeting was attended by over twenty individuals including a local aldermann who was so impressed by the concept, that he joined himself and offered up fitness coaching as one of his services. Potlucks are a great way to meet the people you will later be exchanging services with not to mention great food!

    To find out more about the Milwaukee Time Bank, go here

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    Web site now up and running!

    Website now up and operational! Check out cart coming new. You will be able to buy freeze dried food, paracord bracelets (both quick release and the new cobra), fire starters, and  water purifying systems. By December we'll also be offering healing salves and all purpose all natural, organic soaps.

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    Plantain - Super healing plant

    Plantain is a plant that grows everywhere in Wisconsin. You can find it in driveways, alongside railroad tracks and bike trails....pretty much anywhere in a sandy soil or areas that are frequently mowed. My hunt for healing plants kept leading me back to this plant that I have been familiar with my whole life yet never appreciated what it can do. Knowing now the healing powers this plant posesses, I can't stop looking for it or collecting it wherever I find it in clean, chemical free environments.

    The young leaves are edible and can be added raw to a salad. To be honest, you'll know when you hit a plantain leaf but the taste isn't all that bad. The seeds, leaves and root can all be dried and taken as a tea. Now let's get the the healing properties....

    Recently a friend of mine had a piece of something imbedded in her thumb. The area become swollen and red as well as quite painful. We mashed up the plantain and added water to create a poultice and put it on the area. Within 24 hours, whatever had been lodged in the thumb was pulled out and the sore had started to dry up and heal over. Nothing sort of miraculous!

    The history of this plant's medicinal properties go as far back as the 1500's when it was considered a cure for a huge variety of maladies. It was used as a treatment for dog bits, ulcers, ringworm, jaundice, epilepy, liver obstruction and hemorrhoids! Oh, yes, and it possesses allanton, a proven wound healing chemical that speeds up cell regeneration and has skin softening effects. This quality is what prompted me to add it to the list of must haves in my medical kit. The plantain can be added to a simple salve to maintain its healing qualities for a longer period of time.

    To make a plantain salve, simply harvest the leaves, let dry and add them to a jar and fill the jar with olive oil. Leave it in the sun for a couple of weeks. The oil will turn a deep green as it draws out the healing oils of the plant. Strain out the leaves until just the olive oil remains. Simply add melted beeswax to the warmed infused oil over low heat until they are uniformly combined and pour into your salve container. Everyone should keep one with their first aid kit!

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

    Wilderness Rake for Debris Hut Building

    The Tom Brown school of wilderness survival likens the debris hut to the squirrel nest. It consists of a thick layer of leaves that act as insulation. Every day the squirrel must pack more leaves into its nest due to the tendency for them to settle and not hold the heat as well. If you look at the density of the nest compared to the squirrel, you'll see that the nest is several times larger than the squirrel. If you take that example and compare it to the human body, you'll see that building a debris hut requires a LOT of leaves. The leaves should be so thick at the end that you can put your arm all the way into the pile up to your shoulder before touching your frame for the hut. The process can be overwhelming if you are trying to gather them by the handful. So rather than waste all that energy, create a quick wilderness rake. Find a stick that has a fork at the end and tie a piece of fabric to it so that it stretches across the length. The rake will tend to just push the leaves and not the heavy stuff and thereby conserve your energy.

    Friday, October 26, 2012


    One of my favorite things to do in some down time is make cordage. Today while waiting for my cattail bread to bake, I took the opportunity to make some cordage from grass and milkweed. The grass is the left hand side photo while milkweed is on the right.

    Making cordage is difficult to explain in writing but the simplicity of the act is very easy to teach in person. Watching one person do it while replicating the simple steps is the best way to learn. There are certain materials from the natural environment that make very good cordage but trial and error is a good way to ascertain that yourself. Any strand of thin line can be made stronger by weaving it in the ropelike fashion that cordage is made. The stronger the original material, the stronger your cordage will be.

    Knowledge of cordage making can be an excellent addition to your outdoor thriving skills. Cordage can be used for a a huge variety of things in the outdoors from building your shelter to a campfire tripod to hanging food in bear territory. If you venture into the Boundary Waters, you'll quickly learn that hanging your food is an absolute must otherwise you'll end up sharing your bounty with the plentiful black bear population. Cordage is also a fun, relaxing thing to do while sitting around the fire waiting for your food to cook.

    Thursday, October 25, 2012

    Soap Making

    A self sustaining lifestyle also includes making your own soap so I attended a class at the Urban Ecology Center presented by Linda Conroy, a local herbalist and permaculturist. The basic ingrediants to soap making include goat milk, palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernal oil, and lye. The lye and the goats milk have a chemical reaction when combined so having safety equipment such as gloves and goggles is very important. If you get lye on your skin you should immediately flush with vinegar.

    Scents and abrasives can be added when all of the ingrediants are mixing. Linda gave a stern warning about using essential oils. They are extremely strong and can irritate the skin. Better to use whole herbs or herbs from an oil infusion to dilute them. We made two types of soap during the class. One included lavender fresh from Linda's yard and the other had oatmeal added as a skin conditioner and moisturizer.

    The soap we made can be used not only for your body but also for a shampoo. Making your own shampoo also reduces waste and makes an excellent gift.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Cattail Flour

    Cattail flour making is a long process but one that can bring immense satisfaction. Fall is the best time to collect the rhizomes and root stock for making cattail flour as they are rich in starch. My parents have a pond full of cattails in their front yard and it became a family event to collect the leaves to make cattail baskets and the rhizomes to make the flour. The rhizomes are the stems of the cattail that shoot off laterally underneath the plant. They give rise to the new plants and thus are full of nutritious value. When you collect the rhizomes you will see that they have a spongey like quality. This spongey part can be peeled away to reveal the dense starch packed interior. This is the part that you want to get to. When you get to this inner core you will see that it contains a lot of fibers. You can push these fibers in a container of water and they will seperate from the starch. Eventually the starch will fall to the bottom of the container. You can drain this top sludge and dry out the remaining starch in the hot sun or an oven set on the lowest temperatures. The starch will still contain bits of fiber so I put it in a mortar and grind it to get the fine powder I want to use as flour. 

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    COAD Training (con't)

    COAD has been an intregal part of educating the public about disaster preparedness but their funding has been severely cut back this year which has the impact of limiting the trainings that they do.  They recently held their annual summit which I was lucky enough to be invited to but unfortunately it will be one of the last sessions they will be able to do so I wanted to share some of the information that I learned at the summit.

    My previous post talked about the keynote speaker from Alabama who shared her experiences during a massive tornado outbreak. This post I'll share one of the breakout sessions I went to on creating Community Resiliency. The speaker was Mark Stigler, an instructor for Homeland Security. He is looking to build a certificate program at WCTC (Waukesha Co. Technical College). He defines resiliency as a process of learning and the ability to absorb disasters and bounce back. This is a guy who is wired into the system and should know better than anyone the potentials for disasters and our need to be prepared for them. He embodies the philosophy of having a series of backup plans for just about any contingency. For instance, preparing for the event that the technology for his presentation would not work properly he had two back up systems in place including paper copies of the presentation that we watched on an overhead projector.

    Mark talked about using the past as a guide for bringing our communities back together as he believes (as do I) that self sufficiency can only be manifested through collaboration. He referred to examples such as community soup kitchens that sprang up during the Great Depression and the Victory Gardens of WWI and WWII. Since I just found Victory Gardens in Milwaukee I saw that Mark and I had a lot in common.

    One big thing that I took away from Mark's presentation was that potential for disaster in our water system that does not have the back up systems in place for different contingency plans. Home owners therefore MUST have contingency plans in place. I will be doing classes for the Milwaukee Rec Dept that will help some homeowners in Milwaukee feel more prepared about having a clean source of water readily available.

    Sunday, October 14, 2012

    COAD Training

    I had the pleasure of attending the COAD 2012 summit on disaster preparedness in Pewaukee this past Friday. It was an all day event that hosted some great speakers from Wisconsin and a keynote speaker from Alabama. The speaker from Alabama spoke about a massive outbreak of tornadoes that stretched across the state that ranged from F3 to F5 events. The storms that broke out April 27, 2011 were the strongest in Alabama's history.  Julie, Alabama's State Emergency Management Program Manager, was sharing her experience organizing the incredible influx of emergency assistance that flooded the state after the event. Many were out of power for up to ten days and 10,000 people were living in shelters. Cell phone towers were leveled making cell phone calls impossible. A nuclear power plant needed to be manually shut down because power lines leaving the plant had been wiped out by the storm and the power had no where to go. There were 258 deaths in total.

    The presentation was very appropriate for our state because as the weather patterns shift and weather events become more powerful, the same thing could happen in Wisconsin. The lessons they learned during that event were passed on during this presentation. In many cases it was communities taking care of themselves because emergency officials didn't have immediate access to them or they were too overwhelmed to get to everyone in a timely manner. That was a great intro to the next presentation I went to which was "Creating Resilient Communities."

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Resiliency Through Permaculture

    I just got back from a meeting at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee. They have potlucks every second Wednesday of every month and invite guest speakers. Tonight's speakers were from the Victory Garden and they spoke about Permaculture. I see that word everywhere now and I know that somehow they relate to what I'm trying to do or the philosophy that I live by and tonight and I finally saw the connection. The first speaker from Victory Gardens talked about sustainability of our planet and our food system and how it relates to permaculture. Permaculture literally means sustainable agriculture systems by mimicking the natural world. I happen to live where there is a very large plot of land that right now is using all of its energy to grow some over-zealous grass that needs to be cut every three days when it rains a lot in the summer. What I want this land to do instead is to feed me and thats exactly what tonight's topic was centered around - bringing gardens into an urban environment. I feel we can grow all the food we need in order to feed ourselves. This is truly what resiliency is all about.

    Victory Gardens are also trying to create more resilient neighborhoods by providing the education and tools that home owners and renters need to transform whatever space they may have to become gardens. In their own words:

    "The purpose of the Victory Garden Initiative of WWI and WWII was to support the war effort. People throughout the United States grew their own produce in yards, parks, and other community spaces so that all available resources could go towards the war effort. At this time, we are once again in our green spaces growing food, but today we are fighting a different kind of battle. We are fighting for food security and the health of our ecosystems. We are fighting for resilient communities that support one another and for strong local economies. Through gardening we are seeking a connection to the cycle of life, and for good, tasty food…from garden to plate.

    So how does one become a Victory Gardener of today, you ask? It’s quite simple. We become vegetable gardeners. If we are already vegetable gardeners, we help someone else do so through mentoring. We find creative ways to grow food right where we are, in our yards, on our rooftops, on our patios – no piece of earth should be overlooked. We garden ubiquitously and confidently knowing that we are doing what is best for our families, our communities, and our country."

    What I took away from tonight's meeting is that literally anyone can do it no matter how small the space. Sometimes we DO have to look to the past and recreate what was already being done. Skills and knowledge will be lost if we don't teach the next generation what today's generation have taken for granted.


    Victory Garden Initiative empowers communities to grow food, reintegrating human and food ecology and advancing a resilient food culture.


    Victory Garden Initiative empowers communities to grow food, reintegrating human and food ecology and advancing a resilient food culture.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    About Founder, Resiliency Training LLC & Milwaukee Survival Courses

    The beginning…my passion for the outdoors began early. I received a degree in Environmental Education from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, and worked summers at the Gunflint Outfitters in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and as a naturalist for Governor Nelson State Park. I learned my winter survival skills from legendary Glacier National Park Ranger, Art Sedlack, while camping out in over ten feet of snow deep inside the park. I put my knowledge and experience to use in the Peace Corps,  creating and teaching environmental curriculum in Jamaica.  I also taught survival skills at YMCA resident camps in Michigan and Wisconsin.  I have been a trainer for large corporations including the Peace Corps, Six Flags, and the Timberland Boot and Outdoor Gear Company.  I love adventure and travel and putting your skills to the test; so in 2012, I traveled to Mongolia where I learned to “live off the land” in a traditional nomadic lifestyle.

    I am fully certified as a Low Ropes Initiatives Facilitator (team building) and am a member of FEMA CERT (Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Emergency Response Teams.)  I've combined my experience and passion for teaching all age groups, including children, THRIVING SKILLS for both outdoor and urban/household  environments. Because you don't want to just survive, you want to THRIVE!
    Resiliency Training LLC is my inspired creation of to empower individuals and families and to create more resilient individuals and communities.

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    Course Listing

    These are the class offerings I will be doing for the Milwaukee Recreation Department in 2013. You are welcome to contact me directly to get them as a private course.

    Outdoor Thriving Skills (2 hours)

    Ages 16 and up. Go beyond basic survival and learn how to THRIVE in the outdoors! Learn cool tricks to make your outdoor experience more enjoyable and leave you more time to relax and simply enjoy the experience of being in the wilderness. Participants will learn quick ways to purify water outdoors, make cordage, use fungus as a fire extender, and how to lash a multipurpose tripod as part of setting up the ideal base camp. Participants will also learn the many uses of paracord and then make their own quick release paracord bracelet and take one home!

    Survival Plants (2 hours)

    Ages 16 and up. There are several plants that everyone should know about that could someday save your life if you end up having to spend a long time outdoors. These “survival plants” have multiple functions such as providing shelter materials, first aid medicines, anti-bug deterrents and are packed full of nutrition and carbohydrates. Learn how to identify and use these plants in a fun interactive class.

    Urban Thriving Class (2 hours)

    Ages 8 and up. There is an amazing feeling of empowerment when you have the skills and knowledge to be prepared in the event of any emergency. In this class, practice basic first aid procedures, prepare a family emergency action plan, build an emergency kit, learn how to prepare for an In-Shelter Emergency and join a network of like-minded people in the Milwaukee Area.

    Build Your Own Water Purifier (2 hours)

    Ages 16 and up. Water purifiers are expensive and there are so many out there to choose from. Several times a year, Milwaukee issues a water boiling advisory and there is always the potential that your water could get shut off for days or even weeks at a time. Wouldn’t it be great to already have a system in place where you won’t have to worry about boiling water? Learn how to build your own five gallon water purifying system to be prepared in the event of a water emergency. *For an additional $35, take one home with you! (Includes a high quality Royal Doulton 10’ Super Sterasyl Ceramic Gravity Filter)

    Cattail Basket Making (2 hours)

    Ages 16 and up. The cattail is an amazing plant that provides many useful functions to the outdoors person. One great aspect of the cattail is the long, flexible leaves that provide outstanding material for weaving and basket making. In this class, participants will create their own cattail basket using cattail leaves and cordage from the outdoors.

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Trust Fall

    A simple quick way to build trust between two people is the Trust Fall. This is part of a Low Ropes Initiative that facilitators can use to get people past the physical barrier and build trust prior to entering onto the elements. Its also a fun activity for family members. With the right positioning, kids can spot for adults and start to shift their perceptions of how they can support their parents. Parents learn to depend on their children in a way that may be new to them and help develop a deeper connection to them. Communication is key to the Trust Fall. A typical transaction would go as follows:

    Spotter says, "Faller, are you ready?"
    Faller responds, "Faller ready."
    Spotter says, "Fall on."
    Faller responds, "Falling."

    The positions are equally important. The faller needs to be a straight line, with arms and feet tucked tight like to picture above. The entire body is in a straight line as well. The spotter will stand behind the faller with their palms cupped and held against the shoulder blades. This activity occurs several times with the spotter putting thier hands slightly farther away from the faller with each fall thereby building up trust.

    Try it with a friend or family member!

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Paracord Bracelet - SOOO many functions!!!

    Paracord is a lightweight nylon rope. It was first used by parachuters during WWII which shows you how strong it is. Once the paratroopers were on the ground, they found all kinds of uses for it such as shelter construction, attaching equipment to harnesses, securing camoflage nets to trees or vehicles, and so forth. When threaded with beads, paracord was used as a pace counter to estimate ground covered by foot. The core (commonly referred to as "the guts") can also be removed when finer string is needed, for instance sewing thread to repair gear, or to be used as fishing line in a survival  situation. The cord can also be used as a boot lace. It was even used by astronauts during the second Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope!

    Due to its nylon construction, the cord is very pliable making it ideal to make bracelets such as the one above which I made this morning. There are a lot of designs out there but this is the quick release version which can be put together in under five minutes and taken apart for use in under ten seconds. The bracelet creates an easy way to keep this handy cord with you at all times since you never know when you'll need it. This bracelet is made up of ten feet of cord and fits nicely around my wrist. Thats a lot of cord in one little package!

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Basic Survival - Water

    In any survival situation, water is going to be a key component. For a family, if the tap suddenly goes dry or there is some sort of contamination in the water and you are no longer able to use city water, than a back up source will become critical within the day. Just think about how much water you use in just one day. I start the day with a glass of water and then start up a pot of hot water for tea. After that I fill a jug for the day's water to make sure I'm getting enough. Then the trip to the bathroom I use at least another gallon to use the toilet, wash my hands and brush my teeth. I haven't even hit the shower (where I'll go through another ten) and I've already gone through at least five gallons of water. But that's when I'm not forced to really think about how much I use. When I was in Mongolia, water had to be carried in from the river and boiled before being able to do anything as simple as brushing your teeth. The inconvenience of it alone was enough to make you conserve and then you realize how much waste there truly is. Really all one person needs for drinking and food preparation is a gallon a day. Another half gallon for sanitation purposes. So for a family of four, about five gallons per day.

    The picture above is a great way for a family of four to collect and store water. The system consists of two five gallon buckets placed on top of each other. The buckets need to be food grade otherwise the plastic will leach into your drinking water. The top bucket contains a doulton ceremic water filter which is so efficient you can take water straight out of any water supply and have clean drinking water from it. It takes about two hours for the system to purify about a gallon of water so water that is placed in the top bucket will be ready to go by the next day. Add a spicket to the bottom bucket and its easy to get access to the water. This is a system that has been used successful by travelers around the world and it is an ideal addition to any family's preparedness list.

    This system is one of the items that I sell or teach individuals to put together themselves. It can be a hassle gathering all the supplies up but you will save a lot of money by doing it yourself.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    CERT Training

    I am almost complete with my CERT Training which is Community Emergency Response Teams sponsored by FEMA. The CERT Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community as well as large-scale emergencies within their state.

    The training took place over three full days and has prepared me for taking an active leadership role in my community should a disaster strike. It has been a great way to meet other emergency professionals and create links between our agencies. The information I have gained in my CERT classes will be a great addition to the information that I am already sharing with clients wishing to learn about urban survival knowledge/skills.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    San Banno (Hello in Mongolian) to My Friends I Met in Mongolia!

    One of the great things about the Steppe Camp is that you have the opportunity to meet and eat meals with fellow adventurers from around the world. At the top, Katayana from Germany followed by Emily and Tobey from the UK and finally Rebecca from Australia. I had a great time getting to know them over meals in the common eating area. Also a big hi to Matias from Germany and Dave & Becky from the UK - hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip on the Trans Siberian Train through Mongolia and into China!

    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Horseback Riding in Mongolia

    The best part of the whole trip to Mongolia was definately the horses. They are slightly smaller than the breeds I am familiar with in the U.S. but also have a wild edge to them. Dundok's horses were very well cared for and you could tell there was a very special relationship between him and the horses. They responded to his commands instantly but they always wanted to run and if given the opportunity, they will open up and really stretch their legs.

    There was a group of people that rented horses for a few hours at the Steppe Camp. Over lunch they told me of their adventure and one lady warned, "Don't take your jacket off while on the horse. They scare easily." She learned that the hard way. She had no more than unzipped her jacket and the horse spooked and started to take off on her. It was quite a ways before she reined the horse in but I remembered that warning when I got on Dundok's horse.

    There is so much wide open space in the steppes that its more natural to want to run the horse. No fears of twists and turns, just vast prairie like areas in-between huge hills. I had spent a full day with Dundok on his horse so he knew I was comfortable with riding at any pace by the end of the first day. He didn't feel the need to check up me (before that it was quite common to hear, "you okay, Shannon?" Anything more than "okay" he didn't really understand so it was good that it really was okay. Towards dusk we headed out to visit the shepard's ger and on the way back home, Dundok wanted to race. He came up behind my horse and swatted it on the butt and yelled "Choo!!!" which the horse knows is "GO!!" And my horse went from a jog to a full out run. And it was exhilerating! Dundok and I were neck and neck as we were racing back towards his ger and both of us were urging our horses on faster and faster. At the top of the hill next to his ger, his wife Iona stood waving her hands in the air yelling "Naadam, Naadam!" which is the Mongolian festival where you can see horse races as well as wrestling and archery. Well, I really wanted to win the race and I could tell Dundok was a having a ball and wanted to win too. There was a slight incline right at the end and I hesitated just a bit not knowing if I should go full out up hill. Dundok had no fears and shot ahead and past his wife. I jumped off my horse as Iona came to grab the reins and rushed up to Dundok and gave him a huge hug. We both babbled at each other in own language (me telling him how absolutely wonderful the whole experience was and what a fantastic rider he is and congratulations.....etc., etc.) and smiled at each crazily. By the time I had calmed down it was dark and time to eat supper and have some tea.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Mongolia - The Food

    Let me just say that if you visit the Steppe Nomad Camp, the food there is exceptional. But if you want a real Mongolian food experience, you have to leave the camp. And this experience way by far the best part of the whole trip. Dundok took me to his ger where we stopped to have lunch. There I also met Trudi from Germany (who has been visiting Mongolia on and off for five years) and Gunbaatar who was visiting from Western Mongolia where he has been reintroducing the wild horse to the Gobi desert. Dundok had prepared a sheep for our arrival and his wife brought out freshly made bread prepared in a wood stove. Needless to say it was quite filling.

    Later that day we visited a shepard's ger. As is the usual custom, tea was offered immediately as was aaruul. Aaruul is curdled milk dehydrated and thoroughly dried in the air and sun. The remarkable thing is that it has an almost unlimited shelf life...much like our dehydrated foods here which can last anywhere from 25-30 years. Unfortunately, I think aaruul is an acquired taste. One nibble was all I was able to get through.

    The next day, Dundok invited me to his parents ger in a neighboring town. Communication was limited to a lot of smiles and thanking them for the generous portions of food and drink per the usual custom. Dundok's mother prepared Tsuivan, a stew made from fresh mutton (which Dundok had provided), potatoes, carrots and freshly made noodles. All of it was prepared in a large caste iron pot placed on top of the wood stove that sat outside the ger. We all ate outside on benches surrounding the wood stove. The food was wonderful and filling but its nearly impossible to convince your hosts that you are full. Seconds will always be offered well before you've polished off the first bowl.

    Due to the nomadic lifestyle and harsh weather conditions, you will find that Mongolians are exceptional with their hospitality as it has been the custom since the times of Ghengis Khan. Mongolians relied on that hospitality to get through the vast plains and huge expanses of land in the Gobi desert. That hospitality is a wonderful thing to experience!

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Mongolia - The Land

    The landscape of the Gun-Gulaat Nature Preserve is very barren but immensely beautiful. Pictures do not nearly do it justice simply because the beauty lies in its vastness.The steppe terrain is rugged and dotted with steep hills and rocky ravines. The frigid climate and lack of vegetation meant that it was only through domestic animals that life on the steppe became possible. It was therefore ‘survival’ that forced a certain way of life on the people; a nomadic lifestyle. This in turn meant that they were naturally superior warriors- physically hardened and masterful on horseback. Since the horse was key to their survival, Mongolians honor the fastest with a traditional burial. They bury the horse under rocks and place the skull on top. I came atop this one at the top of the hill just outside of the camp.

    There is no land ownership in Mongolia which is why you can see gers dotting he landscape with no sign of any fences. Herds of sheep, goats, horses, cows and yaks roam freely. If you watch them long enough, they eventually make their way to some source of water, the very heart of survival. Everyone in the region I was visiting relies on the Kherlen River for a source of water. Since its shared by everyone, animals and people alike, parasites such as Giardia are a concern. Giardiasis is a diarrheal disease caused by the microscopic parasite Giardia. A parasite is an organism that feeds off of another to survive. Once a person or animal (for example,  cattle, horse, sheep, or goats) has been infected with Giardia, the parasite lives in the intestines and is passed in feces. Once outside the body, Giardia can sometimes survive for weeks or months. Giardia can be found within every region of the U.S. and around the world. Having a good filter would be a good idea but since those aren't readily available in Mongolia, they do the next best thing which is boiling it. Once water reaches a boil, all you have to do is let it continue to boil for another minute and all the bacteria and parasites in the water should be killed. So feel confident partaking in the tea which will be offered by EVERYONE in Mongolia. I drank it for every meal with the water source coming straight out of the river and I did not get sick over my two week stay.

    Most of my mornings began with a trek far into the steppes to get a feel for the country and the land that Ghengis Khan himself once road across. Because there would be no rescue team coming for me if I were to get lost or hurt, I packed a bag ready to overnight and start a fire if need be. This is truly an environment where you need to be confident in your own survival skills. I learned quickly that wood is very scarce on the steppes. Dry dung was the best source of fuel here and there was plenty of that. The dry grass was excellent tinder as I found when I lit a fire every night in my ger. But I took a candle with me just in case as few things can burn as long or steadily as a candle.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Best of Mongolia - Mongolians (Dundok & Tunga)

    Most of my stay in Mongolia was at the Steppe Nomad Camp located in the Gun-Gaalut Nature Preserve. The camp is located about three hours north of capital, Ulaanbaatar. My flight from Korea landed just before midnight and I was met by a driver from the camp right outside of the arrival gate. For such a late hour, I was immediately surprised by how many people, dogs, horses and traffic existed on the streets. Few roads were completely paved. Most roads ended abruptly where they had been washed away and everyone veered effortlessly off to the grass or dirt to continue driving without really slowing down much at all.

    My driver and I exhausted most of our verbal communication within the first few minutes and established only that I was from the US and we would arrive at the camp around 3:00 a.m. He turned on the local Mongolian station and sang along. It was beautiful and I probably would have fallen asleep had we not completely ran out of paved roads when we exited the capital and drove wildly on dirt roads veering around horses and cows waundering everywhere. He would occassionally shout out about some feature on the side of the road and I would dutifully peer blurrily into the night and wonder what it was. I made sure to drive back to the capital for my flight home to make sure I could see all the things he was talking about (boy was that the right thing to do! More on that later!)

    The drive took us on long valleys sometimes on road and sometimes just on grass but always in complete darkness. I wondered how this driver could find his way. And then just before 3:00 a.m. (he was quite proud of himself for nailing the correct time) he announced we had arrived at camp.

    Three people stood shivering in the cold at the entrance to the camp. It was hovering just below forty degrees and I could see the plumes of smoke coming from their mouths. Despite that, Tunga, the Operations Manager, greeted me warmly and another gentleman quickly grabbed my bag. I got a quick tour of the camp before being led to my ger. A fire had already been lit but it was getting low so more wood was added and within a few minutes, the entire ger was toasty warm. Heaven. I don't even remember lying down or falling asleep but I do remember waking up to the most beautiful sky I had ever seen. Day one of my Mongolian adventure was about to take place!

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Mongolian Adventure - the Ger

    This past week I had the adventure of a lifetime. I traveled to Mongolia to stay at a ger camp and visit a Mongolian family to experience the traditional nomadic lifestyle that has remained the same since the time of Genghis Khan. The Ger, or as we call it, yurt, is the traditional dwelling in Mongolia. It is a round structure with a felt or wool inner lining that works fabulously well to insulate the structure. There is a wood stove in the center that when lit can warm the entire ger within a few minutes. The wind is a constant presence in Mongolia but the ger protects it's inhabitant very well.

    Mongolians truly live off the land. There is no electricity and little to no wood found in the open steppe or mountainous regions. Fires, used for both cooking and heating, are started with dried grass and fed with horse or cow dung. Gers dot the countryside but are more often than not clustered near a source of water which is critical to the survival of their livestock as well as the people. Tea is a beverage drunk throughout the day and requires a steady supply of boiled water. Since the land has few if any fences and the livestock tend to waunder in and around the rivers and lakes, boiling water is critical for anyone wishing to drink from the supply. If you aren't able to boil the water, a water bottle with a purifier is critical. I met another traveler who drank the water without boiling or filtering and she was sick for weeks at a time.

    Shelter Building

    Shelter Building may seem like a pretty straightforward concept. Put a bunch of sticks together, throw some leaves on top and be done with it. But IF you want to actually stay overnight in the shelter you just took the time to build, there is a little more involved with it.

    The Debris Hut shelter is a very basic shelter to make if you have access to a lot of branches and leaves. After choosing the location, the first thing you need to do is measure the size you need to make your shelter. Lay on ground and mark where your feet and head will go. Next, bring two sticks together to form the support "V" that you see in front in the picture above. You want the "V" to be just large enough to put your body inside of the debris hut. These sticks can be tied together with some cordage or other material. Stick them FIRMLY in the ground. Next, find a long stick that will run from where your feet were placed up to the top of the "V" where it will fit snuggly in place. The total length will be your total body length. Size is important as you are trying to insulate yourself from the weather outside of the debris hut. The more air that is left to circulate, the more miserable your night will be.
    The next step is to find sticks to lean against that middle pole. The sticks will vary in size as the
    pole runs from the ground up to the "V". Put them close to each other and do both sides of the middle pole. The next part is the really timely part but also the most crucial. Get a lot of leaves. I mean a LOT. You are going to pile them on top of your debris hut until it has at least one to two feet in thickness. The more extreme the weather, the thicker you are going to want this protective barrier. Finally, shove leaves INSIDE the debris hut as well. Remember, you are trying to eliminate any extra air circulation.

    You are going to want to block off that open area as well. You can build yourself a door and stack leaves against it as well or use a backpack if you have one.

    Remember, have FUN!

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Bow Drill Fire Making

    The Bow Drill is a fun and VERY challenging tool to use to start fires. It consists of a bearing block or handhold, a spindle or drill, a hearth or fireboard, and a simple bow. When all of these parts work in cohesion or perfect harmony, fire is created. Creating this harmony with all these parts working in cohesion is the challenging part. Friction between the drill and the fireboard is what creates the sawdust that when placed in a tinder pile creates the fire. From beginning to end, it will only be a matter of perhaps sixty seconds until you have an actual fire.  The concept is simple and beautiful.

    So if its so simple and straightforward, why aren't we all creating fires with these simple pieces? Because if you want to create fire using a Bow Drill, be prepared to dig your heals in and take the time to learn the proper technique and build up your upper arm strength.

    So the basics....

    The spindle, carved to reduce friction at one end and maximize it at the other, is held in a hole in the bottom of the bearing block, and at the other by the hearth (fireboard). The string of the bow is wrapped once around it, so that it is taut enough not to slip during operation.The usual position that a person assumes while operating the bow drill is as follows: the right knee is placed on the ground (assuming a right-handed operator) and the arch of the left foot is on the board, pinning it in place. The left wrist, holding the handhold, is hooked around the left shin and locked in place to keep it steady so it can generate enough downward pressure and speed; achieved by pushing down with the handhold and spinning the drill. The heat of the friction between the hearth and the spindle both creates charred, fuzzy dust and causes it to ignite - forming a coal or ember. The handhold is lubricated (I used ear wax) and the spindle is carved to about thumb thickness, usually 6 to 8 inches long.

    An indentation and a "v" notch into the center of the dent is made into the fireboard and the spindle is placed on it. The notch allows a place for the dust collect while it is being abraded off the spindle and the hearth. Eventually, the friction generates heat to ignite the dust, which can be used to light tinder.

    Now what kind of materials should you use? The hearth and spindle can both be constructed from any medium-soft, dry, non-resinous wood, and work best when both are made from the same piece of wood; however, with practice almost any wood combination can be used provided the parts contain little or no resin or moisture. The most important factor is whether the wood is dry enough to ignite, as wet wood will not work; Aspenn, Basswood and Willows all work very well. The bow should be stiff but slightly limber and around the distance from the users armpit to their fingertips. The bearing block (handhold) can be made of anything that is harder than the spindle. Bone, antler, shell and stone work best, as they can be easily greased, do not create as much friction, and do not burn; however, hard woods such as maple are quite serviceable and often easier to find and work. Some effective materials used to grease the bearing block include ear wax, animal and plant oils, or even moist vegetation.

    I use the drill board for a morning or evening meditation as it makes me feel connected to the earth is a very simple way. Have FUN!

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    Community Approach to Survival

    Think about the person that lives to your left, right, in front and behind you. What do you know about them? Do you know their name? Would they help you out if you need it? Would you help them? What skills do you think they would bring to the table if you gathered all your neighbors together?

    I wondered about these things when last winter, the storm of the decade dumped three feet of snow and up to eight feet in drifts in my neighborhood. Suddenly, my neighbors were everywhere. It was a community effort to dig ourselves out of the snow because clearly nobody was going anywhere until the snow was gone. The city had enough to deal with taking care of the main streets. We were pretty much on our own if we wanted to get out. I was now relying on the help of people I had seen but never talked to in order to get my car out of my garage and down the end of the alley. And despite the work, everyone was in good spirits and willing to lend a hand throughout the day. Anyone who had a shovel was out working beside people who brought heavier equipment into play. By the end of the day, I felt closer to these people, knew a lot more names and was left feeling a little sad when the work was done and everyone went their seperate ways. I felt like there was a sort of missed opportunity to get to know them better but never really could come up with a reason to knock on their door.

    The lesson I took away from that day was that in case of any neighborhood disaster or catastrophic event, it really is your neighbor that you will probably call on for help and that you really can't rely on city services to be there right away or perhaps even for a long time. But the skills and resources that you need are probably right there in your neighborhood. Within a few houses you may find people who are experts in plumbing, electrical work, engineering....the list is endless. And wouldn't it be great to know who those people are and be able to call on them to help you and trade knowledge or resources? And wouldn't a community that had taken the time to trade that information be more apt to survive and indeed thrive in times of a disaster?

    So that is what I call the Community Approach to Survival. I want to bring neighbors together to get to know one another, share skills into a database and learn the basics that they need to survive as a community and also individuals should a disaster strike their neighborhood. Not to mention have a great time getting to know each other through shared goals and develop bonds that have the potential to last a lifetime. Milwaukee will become stronger as a whole through the strength of our individual neighborhoods.

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Survival Food

    In congressional testimony, the Administrator of FEMA, Craig Fugate, described today's reality as follows: Government can and will continue to serve disaster survivors. However, we fully recognize that a government-centric approach to disaster management will not be enough to meet the challenges posed by a catastrophic incident. That is why we must fully engage our entire societal capacity..."

    What is comes down to is this: it will be up to ourselves, our COMMUNITIES in which we live to support one another during times of a national disaster. The basics: food, shelter, and water will all be up to us to procure. The classic response to past disasters were Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) because the resources were readily availble. However, for a large portion of the population such as children and seniors or individuals with dietary or health restrictions, MREs are not a suitable food source as they tend to contain high level of fat and sodium and have very low levels of fiber. Freeze dried food can be a healthy alternative. This is a relatively new technology where full meals are "frozen" quickly and therefore keep their nutrition and taste when reconstituted with water. After Hurricane Katrina, the Government comissioned that these Arks be created through the Ready Project.

    Check out the link to the ARK on my blog to find out more!

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    About me and MSC

    Living off the land is a somewhat foreign concept to a lot of people but it may be a reality in the very near future. We are constantly bombarded with stories of disasters that sweep people from their modern comforts and into impromptu camps of temporary living. In the last few years we have watched in horror when hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes due to earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. These people often congregate in camps that invite disease and horrible living conditions if they are forced to stay for weeks on end. The impending natural phenomenon of solar super storms may eliminate even the short term comfort those places may offer. The latest National Geographic magazine highlights the likeliness of these storms and the potential they have to knock out the electric grid for weeks or perhaps even months at a time. The question they ask is, are we prepared? Do YOU have an emergency plan? If a natural disaster turned your life upside down, would you rather go to a community center where hundreds or perhaps thousands of people have congregated without electricity or any modern conveniences and you have to fight for resources like a post-Katrina situation or would you rather have an emergency plan in place and be able to be self-sufficient and live comfortably? 

    I know the answer for me. I would rather be prepared with an emergency food and water supply and if need be, be able to head into the woods and live comfortably and confidently. Nature provides everything you need to survive.  So that’s where the Milwaukee Survival School comes in. It is the culmination of a varied and interesting career that started out in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota where I worked for two summers as an outfitter and then joined the Peace Corps where I taught environmental education to grades 5-12. I returned home to continue environmental education and survival training for the YMCA at resident camps.  I then ventured into the corporate world and used my education skills to develop training programs. But my love and interest has always been in the outdoors and to use my twenty some years’ experience in education and training to create my own outdoor education/survival course business. And it seems as if the timing could not be more right. I run into people from all walks of life that tell me that they have a secret fear that they should have these skills and the knowledge to survive whatever disaster that may be on the horizon. The odds seem likely that you WILL need these skills and knowledge. Having survival skills can give you a sense of accomplishment and empowerment that cannot be matched. Knowing that you can survive with just what the land provides is a humbling yet powerful feeling.

    I've got an actual website in the making, but until that is up and running, you can contact me here through my e-mail or by phone (262-515-5331) to find out about workshops or set up a one on one training session for yourself. I just got back from an adventure in Mongolia so I'll be sharing some photos and talking about my experiences there as well. I would recommend the trip to anyone who is curious to see people continue to live the lifestyle that has been lived since the time of Genghis Khan. The people, the landscape and the experieces are truly unique and wonderful. My motto, Be Prepared and Have Fun!