Group Information

Advanced Survival Shelter

If you have a group of people and a fair bit of time, you can move up from debris shelters to a more advanced, permanent shelter.  We spent about 8 hours constructing a 10 x 8 shelter that would easily sleep 6.  We used double, stacked debris walls and a ridge of about 6 feet.  We were very fortunate to have a lot of available resources both from a previous shelter and some trees that were recently felled.  Even though there was a huge supply of goldenrod stalks for thatching, we were really surprised at how much was needed.  We only got it half thatched, and had to resort to a tarp.

The boys ended up sleeping in ot in about 0 degree weather.  Without a little more work on the roof, it didn’t do much for keeping in heat.  We have to tweak the design a little.

Click on picture for larger version.

Categories: Group Information, Survival Skills, Wilderness | Leave a comment

Catching up on pictures: Sept. 2014 to May 2015

So, as I said below, I haven’t kept up with the pictures from the earlier camps from the new Phoenix 4.0 group.  They’ve been busy and very successful over the past year.  Before embarking on our big Smoky Mountains trip in two weeks, I though I’d do a little catching up.  Many of these have appeared on Facebook, but I think it is worthwhile to put them here.

Early spring had the group’s first trip to the Crown Land site, complete with 100% successful solos.

IMG_0803wwIMG_0806wwIMG_0828wwPart of Sunday’s program was to build a cooking tripod for the fire, including a workspace.

In sharp contrast to that, during the winter the boys built snow shelters, again with everyone completing and sleeping in them.

IMG_0698wwIMG_0704wwIMG_0711wwIMG_0751wwThere is a video as well, but I have to trim it and post it on our YouTube channel as WP doesn’t support direct uploading of videos.

Our Primitive Weapons camp is always a favorite.  We made survival bows with arrows (limited success for a first attempt) and also atl-atls.  We also spent some time with real bows doing some archery with some interesting targets.

IMG_0781wwIMG_0778wwIMG_0798wwOne of our first camps was the traditional Warsaw Debris Shelter camp.  Once again, batting 1000, all of the boys constructed and spent the night in their shelters, -many learning the importance of having something between them and the ground.

IMG_0527wwIMG_0559wwWe also did some bowl burning in the evening.

Those are the highlights.  I’ll try to update the videos and link to them here.

I’m sure we will have many more pictures to put up during our journeys over the next month.  Follow our exploits here.


Categories: Group Information, Survival Skills, Wilderness | Leave a comment

Countdown: 11 days

There are only 11 days till our departure.  I’m tempted to say that everything is in order and ready, but whenever I do that a new challenge comes out of the woodwork.

I have to say that this is easily the most challenging and interesting summer trip I’ve ever had to plan, with one crisis after another.  We’ve had leadership issues, viability issues and even trailer issues.  However I’ve noticed, most definitely, that each time a challenge arises, as hard as it is to solve it, we always seem to have a huge amount of luck, and we always seem to come out better than we went in.

When my trailer was deemed not roadworthy, I was actually standing in the parking lot speaking to the mechanic when someone drove in and offered to buy it because they just wanted to park it somewhere and use it to live in for the summer.  It was a perfectly timed and unexpected opportunity.  The right trailer to buy also handily presented itself.

If not for the leadership issue we would never had had the need and drive to do fundraising.  It was very successful, for which I am immensely grateful to all supporters.

When we needed to re-notarize the letters, we were instantly offered the services of a lawyer in order to accomplish that.

I could go on with numerous other events that just seemed to dovetail.  There were lots of times where I wondered if the trip was meant to be, considering all the problems, but when the smoke cleared you could always see that it had mostly been for the best.  The flow of fortuitous events convinced me that, if anything, it was all part of a positive tide.

However, enough is enough.  I’m hoping that once we set out and cross the border, the actual trip should be adventurous and exciting, but perhaps with fewer crisis.

Categories: Group Information, SW TRIP | Leave a comment

Debris Wall Shelter

So, unfortunately our recent weekend outing didn’t have the chance to experiment with snow shelter design as the snow had all melted.  (I was also disappointed that we ended up not having time to experiment with reflectors.)  This is shaping up to be a strange winter.  But that brought up the question, “How do you make a shelter if it’s a strange winter?”  How do you cope with cold weather, possible freezing rain and no snow?

So we decided to get ambitious and build a major debris wall shelter, using materials from an old tipi and another larger shelter built long ago.  The readily available materials made it very easy, which was a good thing as the 8 or so people working in it only had about 7 hours on the Saturday if we were going to try to sleep in it overnight.

We were lucky in other ways as well.  The ground wasn’t frozen, which made pounding stakes in a lot easier.  There was a leaf pile from Autumn raking, so between that and a generous layer of pine needles on the ground we had plenty of debris to stuff between the double walls.  Ideal conditions, which never hurts when you’re trying out something brand new.

The final structure ended up being much larger than really needed.  We started with the perimeter of the tipi and it kind of grew from there.  When finished, we decided that it easily could have been half the size and still fit half a dozen people.  Probably easier to heat then too.

What definitely would have been easier if it were smaller would have been the roof.  As it was so big, several tarps were necessary, and the evening’s rain did manage to get through.  Unfortunately it was dark by the time we got to the roof, and the design modifications that seemed necessary weren’t able to be done, although it wouldn’t have been too difficult if we’d had more time.

All in all it was a terrific success and a great learning experience.  We’ll probably revisit it to improve it.

To see photos, go to

Categories: Group Information, Survival Skills | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at