Adventures in Kentucky: Wilderness Survival Training

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Last week on Adventures in Kentucky, Gene Birk and I went on an adventure in Mammoth Cave on horseback. Tonight I take a trip to another Kentucky State Park for a little wilderness survival training.

One of the most important parts of any adventure is safety and preparation. Park Ranger Julie McDonald of John James Audubon State Park invited me to a wilderness survival training for young people in the area.

The wilderness training began in the classroom. We discussed what’s important in survival, what tools we should always have and how to use those tools in the wilderness. We even went over a hypothetical emergency situation and learn how to react for the best chance of survival.

In the park’s museum, we looked over a few of the animals and plants found in the area. Many plants are beneficial to survival situations.

“You can eat the roots of it (and) the stalks of it raw. You see that big fluff stuff? Do you think that would make a good fire-starter maybe,” McDonald asked her group of trainees.

After the inside instruction, we took our training out into the park’s wilderness and used the new knowledge we gained. Of the things we talked about in class, the group agreed that water is one of the most important parts in survival. We made water catchments to gather and filter the water.

“That might be ok, but you still might have the bacteria problem. So again trust the water sources, but only as a last resort,” McDonald warned.

After we accessed useable water, we shifted our focus to fire. Fire is necessary for both warmth and protection. There are several techniques that can be used in starting a fire, but on such a windy day it is difficult to get them to work. However after much effort, your brave adventurer managed to create a fire. With two important survival necessities covered, the last of the three is shelter.

“Your job is to make your own debris shelter without taking from my debris shelter,” McDonald ordered.

Within five minutes, we were able to use the materials we had lying around to make a fairly stable survival shelter.

After the training, we found that in order to increase your chances of surviving in the wild, the two most important tools are preparation and knowledge.

If you’d like to know more about the upcoming events at the Audubon State Park you can call them at 270-826-2247 or log on to their website at and if you have an adventure you’d like Brandon to try, you can always email him at