Blog

YMCA Ranger Staff Training

YMCA Ranger Staff Training

I just finished a very busy, but very wonderful, week working with the four leaders of the Ranger Program at YMCA Camp Ockanickon & Matollionequay located in Medford, New Jersey. Monika and Jessica, and Matt and Zach, will be spending this summer leading trips that hike up a portion of the Appalachian Trail through Northeastern Pennsylvania, then paddle down the Delaware River. So we worked together to get them certified in Wilderness First Aid (WFA), learn the fundamentals of land navigation, and develop their backcountry skills as they get ready to soon head out on their own with their groups. With only three days to train, our schedule and work was compressed and intense, not to mention the rain, heat, and ticks. But these four worked extremely hard, and they did so with smiles on their faces, sprinkled with much laughter, the entire time. Trust me, they may have had […]

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More WFA News

More WFA News

True North just completed yesterday a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course for a great group. Several of them are Boy Scout leaders who are preparing to take their Scouts to Seabase next month, while two others are getting ready to head to Brazil with Engineers Without Borders as part of a development project. Many thanks to all of them!

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WFA News

WFA News

Last night, I started the first of a four session Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course with Scout leaders at BSA Camp Guyasuta in Sharpsburg. Not only are they a great bunch, but Camp Guyasuta is truly a hidden gem. Most people (including me) have been whizzing by it on Route 28 for years, not really knowing that it’s there. Trust me, it is truly a slice of peaceful wilderness tucked away in a largely urban landscape. I’m thinking that True North may need to hold more classes there!

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Butler Outdoors Club Workshop

Butler Outdoors Club Workshop

Erik spent part of his Memorial day with a great group from the Butler Outdoors Club as part of their “Outdoors Extravaganza” teaching them how to build a fire. Now they are better prepared in an emergency to build a knee high fire in the pouring rain in five minutes. Don’t think it can be done? It can. Just ask this group. Don’t know how? Then consider enrolling in one of True North’s upcoming survival courses. Many thanks to Becca for helping out. Hope that you are all enjoy a safe and happy holiday.

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Gear List: The SAM Splint

Gear List: The SAM Splint

While I teach survival and wilderness medicine courses, I really don’t like to refer to myself as an “instructor.”  In fact, each time that I do, I cringe inside.  Certainly, I understand the appropriate context of the word, but, to me at least, it purports that I know it all.  Which I don’t.  Every time I teach a class, no matter whether its advanced or beginner, I learn something new.  And in between classes I continue to try to learn.  Which is frustrating sometimes because it seems that the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know!  So the process of learning never ends.  I see myself, then, as a student. While teaching a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course last weekend to a group of Scout leaders, one asked me a question about the SAM splint that we were using at the time.  I was able […]

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Let’s Not Forget the Rescuers

Let's Not Forget the Rescuers

Yesterday marked the end of a rescue story in Southern California that gripped much of the nation this week.  In Cleveland National Forest, which boasts 720 miles of rugged mountain wilderness, two young adults parked their vehicle on Sunday at a trailhead not more than a handful of miles from suburban housing tracts, shopping malls, and a Starbucks.  While the details have yet to fully emerge, it looks like the pair set off for a day hike without proper equipment or clothing, including water, and then, at some point soon after their start, ventured off the well blazed trails to try to get a better view of the area’s waterfalls.  They soon, though, became lost and then, somehow, became separated.  As a Sheriff’s spokesman stated to the Associated Press, “I have no doubt that they came out here with the best of intentions … but this is a complicated environment and […]

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Special Course Discount from True North!

Special Course Discount from True North!

Would you like to volunteer your time to do something that is valuable for the environment … And learn potentially life saving skills while definitely saving some of your hard earned money?  Then read on! Erik has already registered with Paddle Without Pollution (PWP) to volunteer his time on Saturday, 25 May at their cleanup on the Allegheny River near Tarentum.  He believes that PWP is offering another fantastic opportunity to enjoy a wonderful Spring day helping the river and its surrounding region that he has grown to love, while meeting a lot of great people in the process. But Erik certainly doesn’t want to keep such a great opportunity all to himself … He wants all of his friends from the True North community to join in too! So as special incentive for you to join in the event, Erik is offering a 20% discount on True North’s upcoming Wilderness […]

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Our Newest Navigators

Our Newest Navigators

On Friday night, 40 students and staff from a Pennsylvania university needed to be rescued in Kentucky after they got lost while hiking along a popular trail.  Clearly, no one in the group had bothered to learn the basic map and compass skills that would have let them safely find their way, or, more importantly, would have likely prevented their predicament in the first place.  Regrettably, this is the way many people approach the outdoors.  Except, that is, Ian and Skot, who just completed “Basic Wilderness Navigation” yesterday. On what was probably the loveliest day of the year so far — clear skies with a bright sun, little wind, and temperatures in the low 50s — we met at Hartwood Acres County Park to learn the fundamentals of map and compass. We started the first evolution of the course learning the basics of a standard USGS topographic map, and then […]

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Communing with the Dead

Communing with the Dead

On Saturday, my postwoman handed me the latest version of Accidents in North American Mountaineering (ANAM) that I had ordered earlier in the week.  When I get home tonight from a meeting with my friend, J.C., I fully intend to crack open a beer, plop down on my couch with my fresh copy, and, soon after I start to read, begin heavily marking the pages with my highlighter and pencil.  Since it is the sixth year in a row that I’ve been reading this journal, I know that it will probably take me about a week to finish — And I will appreciate every minute of it. Whoa, wait a minute, Erik, isn’t it a little weird to “appreciate” page after page of death, injury, and mortality statistics?  I wrote “appreciate,” not “enjoy.”  Besides, I read it … and often recommend it to my students … for very good reasons.  After […]

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Who Should Pay for the Rescue?

Who Should Pay for the Rescue?

Last week, search and rescue (SAR) teams were dispatched on multiple occasions to find or assist hikers who had gotten lost in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.  The fact that the hikers needed help wasn’t unusual (since it happens fairly often), but that so many did, in so short a period of time, raised eyebrows in the local outdoors community.  After all, for one female hiker rescued on Wednesday, this wasn’t her first time requiring the service of SAR — It was her second time in three months. The recent events there, then, has helped to fuel a continuing debate that has grown across the country over the last ten years:  Who should pay the cost of a wilderness rescue?  The use of a helicopter, for example, for even a few hours can cost a local government thousands of dollars.  Still, it doesn’t seem that the general public generally minds […]

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