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Survival class aims to teach life-saving skills even in the harshest of climates

GTNS photo by Isaac Hamlet

Fire starting was to be covered during Pam Holz’s “Be a Survivor” program at Marr Park on Saturday, March 9. How to get a spark as well as how to sustain a good fire for a long time would have been covered had the class not been rained out.
GTNS photo by Isaac Hamlet Fire starting was to be covered during Pam Holz’s “Be a Survivor” program at Marr Park on Saturday, March 9. How to get a spark as well as how to sustain a good fire for a long time would have been covered had the class not been rained out.
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Pam Holz moved her survival class indoors after rain was forecast this past weekend; the heavy rains of the early afternoon, however, turned out to be enough to dissuade anyone else of coming out for the event.

“Be a Survivor,” a free, outdoor survival course scheduled for Saturday, March 9, at 1 p.m. in Marr Park was canceled due to no attendance.

“With this weather I’m not surprised,” Holz said. “I’d talked to several people about it and they were really interested, but it’s amazing how at the last minute you look out the window and go ‘nah.’”

The course is a version of a class she teaches with Mid-Prairie Community School District showing kids how to survive the elements when in the wild.

Though the program ostensibly focused mostly on winter survival, the three topics covered are applicable throughout the year for survival in the Midwest given frequent cold temperatures.

At one station, ice was going to be added to buckets of water with pennies in them. Participants would have then been required to pull out the pennies and put them in the jar. This would be meant to show how hypothermia and immersion in ice water can affect the body.

“Ice water is cold,” Holz said. “You lose agility, your reaction slows down and when you take your hand out it’s amazing because another person can feel it and know there’s no blood flow in the hand.”

Another area focused on starting fires.

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Fireproof tins were set out on tables and mats were laid on the floor for participants to practice making the friction to make fire with a bow drill.

The station was intended to show that, in order to keep a fire going you need good wood.

“Anyone can start a fire, the trick is keeping it going,” Holz said. “If you get the good wood on fire you’re set.”

The station was meant to explain how good tinder is required to set sticks on fire which will eventually heat that good wood to the point it can sustain a flame.

When Holz teaches this to elementary schoolers, the fire station is generally the one they start most eager to try.

“A lot of them aren’t allowed to use matches or have never used matches,” Holz said. “But I think shelter building, overall is the thing (kids) start to enjoy more.”

Had it been held outside, the shelter building course would have seen participants build a shelter they could fit in with natural materials.

However, for the indoor course, Holz built miniature sets out of twigs, hay and cotton balls, and tiny people made out of pipe cleaners. Those attending the course would have been required to make a shelter with the miniature material without smothering the people or moving the trees.

Though Holz is considering attempting to hold the course again in the spring, there are currently no plans to reschedule.

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