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Survive and Thrive Wilderness Weekend Skillshare

So this next installment of the wildly successful

Survive and Thrive weekend skillshares is tailored for those that have been to them in the past as well as for newcomers. We will cover a broad scope of basics in self reliant bush craft. Water, Shelter, Fire, Food, Medicine, Orienteering and Ropes & Knots will all be covered over Friday night 9/9/11, Saturday 9/10/11 and Sunday morning 9/11/11. Rain or shine, we will be ready for both.

It will take place in French Creek State Park -

At our usual spot, Organized Group Tent site #10 on Fire Tower road -

  OGT site #10 is located off of Fire Tower rd 1/8 mile north of Scotts Run rd , Elverson, Berks, Pennsylvania 19520. 

The site is not clearly listed on most of the maps. Please share this info with your loved ones at home.

Kids of a an age and mindset to pay attention are welcome provided their parent or guardian keeps an eye on them at  AT ALL TIMES    and they can focus on the topics at hand.

$5.00 per person , here is the plan:

Friday 5 pm, those leaving from the Philly/Jersey area can meet at Liberty Land Park along 3rd street near Poplar in 19123. We will take a head count, tie small white ribbons onto our car antennae (to help others stick together on the highway) and begin rolling out of the city by 3:45 in an orderly procession. Please do not be late. Please arrive with a FULL TANK OF GAS for your vehicle. The lead and rear drivers will be in contact with each other at all times. We'll take either rt 676 or Girard Ave (depending on traffic conditions) to rt 76west.
Friday 4:45 pm the caravan will arrive at the second meeting point for the Montco/ Chestco folks to join the train. Chile's restaurant located at rt 202 and South Gulph rd across from the KOP Mall. The merged group will then proceed onto rt 422west. Just past Pottstown we will turn onto rt 724 for a few miles. A couple of twists and turns and we should arrive at the site by 6:30pm.

If you wish to get there on your own, then please just let Fernando know ahead of time. Remember that wireless phone service is shoddy up there. GPS is recommended as a second to sticking together in a caravan. You are welcome to come and go earlier or later as you dictate your own schedule. Please feel free to participate in what ever way that you can throughout the weekend.  That said, the order of skillsharing and tent placement are kept fluid until the moment that they are to be set into place. Those that do not set up/break camp with the group may find some disadvantage.

There is a hand pump well for water in the parking area, however we will establish a hand and face Wash Station with pure soap and clean towels. Clean, sterile wash water will be maintained throughout the weekend. We will also set up Power and Cooking Stations.

The  Power Station can be used by anyone to recharge cell phones and run small appliances over the whole weekend.

The Cooking Station will be a collection of propane camp stoves on a sturdy table. Whatever food or drinks that you bring that require cooking/heating/boiling can be safely prepared here. We will ensure that plenty of propane is on hand as well as matches and fire extinguishers. These stations are open to you at anytime. If you have a camp stove you are welcome to share it at the table.

Your tent site should be set up right away and your gear placed where you want it.

If you are early to bed or a light sleeper then consider setting your tent away from the fire. If you know that you snore loudly, please cast your camp away from the rest. If you need assistance with your tent, there will be plenty of others to help you just after they have set up their own. If you want to eat after that then have at it.

Be sure to have a good amount of bug spray, be mindful of ticks .  We will have a comprehensive medical kit including an EpiPen for anaphylactic shock . The nearest hospital is Pottstown General. It is a 15- 20 minute trip from our site for a motivated driver. First responders will be among us.

Of course we will take all precautions to avoid any injuries , however you do participate under your own volition and at your own risk.

Children under 18 years are sole responsibility of the parent and MUST REMAIN WITH THAT PARENT AT ALL TIMES WITHOUT EXCEPTION. Please and thank you.

Friday Evening - Settle in with a social fire and get things moving forward. Marshmallows provided later on.

Saturday 7:30am - Wake up and Breakfast
Whatever you bring to start your day, get it in you and CLEAN UP before 9am.

We will start up at 9 am , breaking for lunch and dinner throughout the day:

Water -
There will not be too much emphasis on Water this weekend. We've done so much related to water purification, disinfection and distillation in other meetups that we are simply going to review the basics for the benefit of our newcomers. Gathering water from trees, boiling water without a pot and effective improvised filters in nature  will be covered.

Shelter -
We will study on making debris shelters from natural materials on hand in the wilderness, what principles you should know with regard to insulation , waterproofing, bugs & critters, etc. Then we will articulate a few methods for using the contents of your A- Z Survival Kit. We will deal with what you need to know to adequately protect yourself and loved ones from heat , cold and wet exposure. After that we will split into very small groups ( unless you wish to go it alone ) and you will construct your own primitive or modern shelter with the guidance and support of the instructors.
Consider sleeping in your freshly made shelter for that evening.

Fire -
The fuels, starting mechanisms (primitive and modern ), construction and control of the fire will be reviewed here in a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. You will be collecting the wood and tinder , then starting your own fire with something other than a match or lighter. If you wish to bring a magnesium spark stick, this will be a time to pratice it's proper use. Forest fire hazard is low but we will have a well prepared fire fighter on hand anyway.

Food and Medicine -
Wild edible and medicinal plants will be the big focus. Last time we taught fishing, trapping and snaring, this time we will learn to ID , forage and prepare. There will be a considerable amount of time and attention dedicated to this topic on Saturday.

Orienteering / Land Nav -

Getting and keeping a grip on your bearings using a map and compass, Sun/Moon/Stars, patterns of life in the wild. Print two copies of this map and bring it with you in a plastic sheet cover -

Ropes and Knots -

The strengths and weaknesses of different forms of rope. The most powerful and practical knots used for securing gear, tools and people for utility and rescue situations. How to make cordage from natural fibers. You should leave with a few knots and hitches that you can keep for life.

Sunday 12 pm - Be packed up and ready to roll out.

There are trash and recycling receptacles in the lot.

You are responsible for every single bit of your own mess.

Your car should be packed and prepared to leave at noon sharp. The main caravan will start back toward Philly. 

Here is a MUST HAVE list for the weekend:

- Positive , patient and respectful attitude towards others and a desire to learn what is being taught. If your kid or partner is not really into it then please leave them at home. If you bring music then keep it low to your space and shut it down when others retire to sleep. This should be a pleasant and drama free trip for everyone.

- Full tank of gas in your car.

- Tent and bedding ( it may get chilly )

- Water/ drinks, 2 gallons per person
( water is available from hand pump well on site, but bleach is needed to sterilize it.)

- Food - Think "easy to make and carry". Suggestions:
Peanut butter and jelly/ tuna and crackers / cereal and milk ( canned or in cooler ) / preseasoned meat&veggie kabobs wrapped in foil to cook on the fire / lots of granola bars / dehydrated meals that you add water to/ dried meats and cheese, etc. If you need a pot or pan then bring it. Consider a cooler with frozen drinks to act as ice. Also consider freezing Saturday's dinner if it is suitable, that way it thaws in time but will not spoil. Preboiling potatoes is preferred as they take a long time to cook thoroughly. If you don't have camp cookware you may think about paper plates and cups.

- Flashlight , one for each person . LED is highly recommended.
( if not a crank powered one the make sure the batteries are fresh)

- Medicine/ inhaler if applicable. If you are diabetic or asthmatic then be ready to deal with it. Let Fernando know of any health conditions ahead of time including severe allergies or history of seizures.


Here is a SHOULD HAVE list for the weekend : 

- Boots. There is a fair amount of rocky terrain and ankle support may prevent injury. Heavy duty sandals may work, but please avoid flipflops and crocs.
- Bug repellent. We highly recommend Lemon Eucalyptus oil. Repel sells it in small bottles. .
You can find it at REI It is 100% nontoxic and tests better than DEET and Skin So Soft for staving off mosquitoes , biting flies and ticks. It lasts for several hours and never fails. If you don't bring some kind of spray you will most likely regret it. Also the less "perfumed" you are , the fewer bees you will attract.

- Folding chair. There are benches and logs in addition to the ground to sit on but you will like the chair better.

- Toilet paper and paper towels. TP will most likely be provided abundantly by the park staff but it is better to be safe than sorry. Paper towels can go into the fire.

- Wet wipes. No showers on our site.

- Gloves. A pair that will help to protect you when working with your hands. It would be great if we could go the whole weekend without a cut finger.

- Rain poncho

- Sharp knife. A locking blade is safer to work with. A partially serrated blade increases your cutting power.

- A- Z Survival Kit - This kit is weights less than 5 pounds and very compact.
a. Leatherman Wave / Gerber Multitool
b. 8" zip ties - 30 ea
c. 3 mil. 55 gal Contractor bags - 2 to 3 ea
d. 3 mil. clear plastic sheet - 8ft x 10ft
e. 550 MILSPEC parachord - 50 ft (not just any rope)
f. Duct tape - 20 to 30 ft on a flat roll
g. Signal mirror
h. LED flashlight with a switch
i. Unlubricated , unribbed condoms - 3 ea ( water carry and wound seal )
j. Compass - button compass ( with moving face) is preferred to the needle compass
k. Whistle - it is better have a whistle without a ball inside
l. Latex surgical tubing - 6 to 10 ft
m. Clear medium or tall trash bags - 2 to 4 ea
n. Butane Bic lighter 1 ea
o. Strike anywhere matches dipped in wax 
p. Firestarters - fuelsticks or cotton/petrojelly balls in foil - 8 or more ea
q. Magnesium spark stick
r. Gatoraid / electrolyte powder
s. Medium sized fishing hooks 10 ea
t. Small bottle of chlorine powder
u. Bandana, large - 1 ea
v. Hoop needle, large - 1 ea
w. Travel sized baby wipes - 1 pack
x. Gauze pads - 2 ea
y. Powerbars - 3 to 6 ea
z. Triple antibiotic salve / Neosporin


Do not let a lack of gear keep you from coming out !! Training always trumps gear. Just come as you are.

If you need a tent, tent space, a ride or wish to carpool just let Fernando know.

If you have a tent or tent space to share and / or car space then talk to Fernando now so that we can help a smooth transaction along. Please program his number into your phone now and feel free to leave it with your loved ones at home incase they cannot reach you out there. ATT's service definitely works up there but others don't. Please have Fernando's number with you before Friday Sept 9th at 3:30 pm.

Any questions?

Call  Fernando[masked]


Here are links to an outstanding video and info/feedback from previous S&T skillshare weekends :   - worth the short wait :)

Join or login to comment.

  • Tim S.

    I will take the information that I learned on these camping trips with me for life. It will then be passed on to others and will last forever. Thanks for everything!

    September 21, 2011


    Mike Danker was a great addition to the weekend. He also donated camping gear for use by members in the future as well as gifted several members with EMS / Milspec medical supplies. Thanks Mike, you are awesome!

    September 16, 2011

  • Alex

    Lots of great survival information and skills were shared at this meetup. The walking tours and presentations were accompanied by visual aids and photocopy handouts. I especially got a lot out of the edible plants walk, the navigation class, and the homemade stove segment. I made new friends and had a great time camping as well! I highly recommend attending this group's meetups if you haven't already and I will definitely be going to the next wilderness weekend. Big thanks to Fernando, Hugh, Jerry, and anyone else who helped to make this trip possible.

    September 16, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Excellent weekend in the woods with a diverse group of intelligent, articulate people. Everyone was welcoming to new people. Broad cross section of skills & idea shared. Thank you for all the work it took to make this weekend happen.

    September 14, 2011

  • Chris S.

    Better than expected! This was a great skillshare w/ like-minded people. Didn't know ne1, but felt like old friends. Learned much, can't wait 4 next 1!

    September 13, 2011

  • Adam O.

    The knowledge gained during this weekend was invaluable. A highly memorable experience and a truly transformational weekend.

    September 13, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    EXCELLENT weekend!!! Fernando put alot of thought and effort into making this a valuable and enjoyable learning weekend, as well as the opportunity to experience the sheer joy of communing with nature. Fernando, Hugh and Jerry gave wonderful presentations in their areas of expertise. My mouth is still watering over some of Hugh's wild creations, and Jerry gave us quite a nice tour, with no one getting lost in the orienteering.

    September 13, 2011

  • Laura A.

    I had a great time learning about wild food you can eat, and getting to spend time with friends :)

    September 13, 2011

  • Art

    Great people shared a wealth of knowledge. Learned about orienteering (how to read elevation maps, find true north, use a compass), improvised heat to cook or safely heat a shelter without power, identifying and tasting wild edible plants in the area, rope tying, and fire starting. I enjoyed hanging out with a variety of people. The group was composed of fairly ordinary people in the work-a-day world. But we all learned skills to be more self-sufficient without the niceties of modern living. It was a fun tent camping experience with great hands-on skill building.

    September 12, 2011

  • Brick

    Amazing fun, great people, awesome presentations, great conversation and very special camp fires. Weather turned out to be awesome with the camp site not being the mud bath I was worried about but nothing was going to keep us away. What FUN!!!!. What awesome sharing and team work!!!! Everyone sharing, chatting, helping and got involved. So many great stories from such a jam packed weekend. A HUGE Thanks To ALL of the organizers. Wild Foodies, Rope works, Map guidelines, Compass works and fire play. You Folks RAWK!!!!!!

    September 12, 2011


    Hugh was very thorough as he led the tour to ID edible and medicinal plants. He taught folks to recognize dozens of wild growing plants that can help them in different ways. Jerry did a great job helping folks get a grip on being able to read maps, divine true North, plan and execute a hike while actually keeping on track. Orienteering/LandNav was a success ! Useful knots and a wide variety of fire starting techniques were shared and put to use. Laura Lee, Michael & Joann, Brick , Art , Alan (Polycouple) and Christian deserve extra credit for setting up and/or breaking down our campsite. The whole weekend was a smooth flowing success. Thanks to all that stuck to their word and made the effort to join us. We ( Laura Lee and Fernando) ended up at a minor $ loss as there were several last minute cancelations and a big bunch of no call/no shows. Not a big deal but the RSVPs are counted when we purchase supplies and equipment for the group's use. Please bear that in mind for the future.

    September 12, 2011


    I spoke to the park rangers an hour ago, there is no trouble with flooding or road access. We are erecting very large tarps very high up to create a dry zone just in case there are a few more showers.
    It's gonna be a great weekend!!

    1 · September 8, 2011

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