Last fall I had a call out of the blue from a man named Byron Kerns. He had operated a Wilderness Survival Training program in the mountains of Virginia for years and then sold out to move to Florida. He called me with an offer to come back to Virginia to offer his program at several of our state parks.
I was happy to get the offer and even happier when I poked around on the web and learned more about Byron.
Byron's business website offers a statement about his background that is incredibly modest: "a former US Air Force Survival (SERE) Instructor who is well-respected in national media and highly-regarded for his talent as a wilderness survival instructor. His unique methods of instructional delivery, developed over the decades, prepare his students with the skills and knowledge required when in a wilderness environment."
Byron must have had a mother like mine who always said to let others sing your praises. And they do. Laurence Gonzales, National Geographic Adventure editor and author of the book Deep Survival writes:
Byron is offering survival course at three of our parks this year. His first program will be at the Wash Woods Environmental Education Center, False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach on April 16 and 17, 2011. False Cape's program will be "Intro to Wilderness Survival."
Co-ed adults, ages 18 and up; Cost: $50/person
Meeting time: 11 a.m., Saturday, April 16.
Meeting location: Little Island City Park.
End time: 11 a.m., Sunday, April 17. (Participants will be at their cars by noon).
Transportation to Wash Woods will be provided by school bus. Participants will overnight
at Wash Woods in bunk rooms; linens, etc. are provided. A kitchen is available for evening
and morning meal preparation. Participants will bring their own food and snacks.
The program is a classroom and outdoors learning experience. Class will run from noon until 5 p.m. on Saturday. Free time Saturday evening. Class from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. on Sunday. There will be a written test with a prize to the top scorer.
The program covers the seven wilderness survival priorities: Positive mental attitude, wilderness first aid, shelter, fire craft, signaling, water, and food. Byron will also cover the personal survival kit contents and lost behavior. And, undoubtedly, a wilderness tale or three from Byron.
This is a unique opportunity to learn about wilderness survival, meet new friends, enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of False Cape State Park, and watch the sun set and rise. It may be hard to imagine a location in Virginia Beach appropriate for Wilderness Survival training but if you haven't been to False Cape State Park before, I can assure you that it is just such an environment.
The next two programs will be offered in the Fall and will be Byron's Grayson Highlands State Park on October 1 and 2, 2011. They will begin at 10 a.m. on the Saturday and end noon on Sunday.
In Survival 101 you'll learn the skills of the seven survival priorities, how to handle backcountry medical problems, how to build a great fire every time without matches or a lighter, how to cook over a camp fire, how to use a signal mirror correctly, how to purify and locate water, and other important-to-know survival knowledge.
Byron usually charges $150 for these programs so we are excited to be able to offer them at such a low cost.
Registration is limited to twenty participants for each event. Contact our reservation center at 800-933-7275 to make your reservations now. The Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you have any questions about the programs, please contact me at [email protected].
If you think the skills that Byron teaches are just for the outdoors or wilderness, you'd be wrong. A recent testimony from an Assistant High School Principal sheds light on this statement: "You sharing your love and knowlege about "Positive Mental Attitude" has uplifted me in ways that I cannot describe to you." This BKSS graduate is speaking about what Byron calls PMA – Priority #1 in a wilderness survival situation. Will you give up or panic? How well will you handle an adverse situation in everyday life? What kind of attitude do you exhibit most often around co-workers, friends, and family? The PMA training and a better understanding of the "peaks and valleys of life," coupled with new-found confidence are only the small pieces of the graduate take-away pie.
Another graduate of Byron's program wrote on his own blog, Exercised Independence:
Sitting at dinner after I got home later that Sunday night, with my most precious wife and 18 month old daughter near me, I looked over at them and asked myself what would happen to them if we were ever stranded and alone. I looked back on what I had learned and the answers I found left me feeling highly confident, gut confident, that if put in that situation, I could take care of them, they would be okay, they would come home. I could return with honor, with my family at my side. That friends, to me, is the only thing that matters.