My grandfather was a Naval Aviator during World War II. As a child I listened to his stories with amazement; I look back today with an even greater appreciation of his bravery. The news today is full of survival stories, most recently the saga of the Chilean miners, rescued after being trapped underground for more than three months. Movies like "Into the Wild" and the recently released "127 Hours" tell harrowing tales of people trapped alone in the wilderness.
It all makes me wonder: Do I have what it takes to survive the unthinkable? I decided to find out.
There are hundreds of survival schools in the United States and around the world. Regular people can spend a weekend, a vacation, or even up to a year learning how to survive in the Arctic or the South American jungle; or you can focus on practical skills a little closer to home.
Many schools now offer students a chance to experience a simulated emergency, like what to do if you survive a plane crash, or run into trouble in a foreign country. At Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School in Virginia, one of their most popular courses is called Hidden Pursuit.
Owner Reggie Bennett teaches survival skills based on his experience as a S.E.R.E instructor in the United States Air Force. S.E.R.E. stands for "Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape." Reggie doesn't teach resistance (that's classified), but for three days my fellow students and I learned about the basic priorities of survival ... and what I learned really surprised me!
On the final day, we were put to the test. As masked men roared by us on ATV's, we tried to make it quickly and quietly to a safe zone several miles from our campground. Even though I knew it wasn't real, I could feel the adrenaline surging as I tried to move quietly through the woods. I found out the hard way that it's a lot harder than it looks!