a reply to: bigpatato
I don't recall saying that it was traumatic, but I suppose it was in some ways- especially after learning that this wasn't a camp at all- a more
accurate description would be that it was extremely difficult. People don't realize how much they take some things for granted until it is gone.
Remember, this was a program to help troubled youth- I can't imagine someone creating a similar program that lasted years & years.
Utah has some very unforgiving landscape and there are hazards like flash floods that can easily kill a person without warning. I was there in
February, and you might think.. oh, you were in the desert so it must have been nice and warm... WRONG- we had to dig graves for ourselves every
night, line them with flat rocks, build a fire on top of the rocks, let the fire die down to coals, cover the coals with soil, and then sleep on this
"coal-bed". The first few nights I either burned myself or froze to death, because this is something that takes practice to learn how to get it just
We had to learn how to make fire using a flint/rock/tinder bundle. Try doing this with frozen fingers and gale force winds when you are
inexperienced. We made bows/arrows using sage-brush and branches- try shooting a rabbit (if you can get close enough) using a clumsy homemade weapon
without any previous experience. We had a blanket and pocket knife, that's it- everything else we had to make ourselves or use tools available like
rocks/sticks/hands. It was a very good lesson in problem solving and making do with what you have.
Also, there was no running water to be found for most of the journey and we did not bring any with us. We had to melt snow and only did this at the
end of the day using the fires for our beds to accomplish this. We had no food, only ate what we were able to catch. We marched sometimes 10-12
miles a day even though we were blistered and exhausted as well as dehydrated and with empty bellies, and one time when we were just about to stop for
the day we were forced to turn around and march back the way we had come because the narrow "slot-canyon" we had been using was blocked and there was
no other option but to reverse direction.
Sure, this was not the same as crash landing on a deserted island somewhere, but it was a pretty good simulation of one. We did have two "guides" to
monitor us, but for the first several days they did not even speak to us except when absolutely necessary- we were pretty much on our own to figure
out how to survive.
I don't know how old you are or what you have gone through in your life, you mention having a similar experience- I'd like to hear it if you are
willing to share. I believe that I may have handled my experience better than the other youth that shared it with me, but I don't claim to have been
anything other than a confused, angry, stubborn idiot with very little life experience and an inability to respect others. This program helped me
grow up, maybe just a little bit.