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Visiting the classroom!
A quick shout-out to English teacher extraordinaire Kristin Lohrentz and her students at Spencer High School, in nearby Spencer, Wisconsin. I had a great time talking with Ms. Lohrentz’s students about real-world wilderness preparedness.
One of her classes is currently reading Into the Wild, the Jon Krakauer book about Christopher McCandless and his fatal trip into the Alaskan wilderness. While the original event was tragic, it was great talking with the students about their thoughts on McCandless and the barebones gear he took with him. As a contrast, I shared with students the contents of my “Oh Sh!t” Emergency Kit, as well as the recommended gear to take on any backcountry camping trip.
The topic is of special interest to me, and not just because I can share a message about the importance of preparation before heading outdoors. As chance would have it, I spent the summer in Alaska in 1993, the year following the young man’s death. (I was traveling around the state shooting photos and getting materials for freelance stories, including this article about the route north to get there, and this feature about motorcycling around the largest state in the U.S.)
While the death of a young person is always tragic and a great loss of potential, not a single person I spoke with at that time felt any sadness about his death. To a person, they all said he was an idiot. (And those are the kindest words that were used!) Alaskan residents know how unforgiving the wilderness can be for experienced backwoodsmen, let alone someone who has had no real training, experience, or the essential gear.
On a personal note, it was also great to visit Spencer High School for one other reason. Spencer was the first place I taught once I earned my teaching certification (ages ago!), so it was great to have a chance to speak with some of the teachers and staff that are still doing such a great job for that community’s children.
To any other teachers who would like us to visit or Skype into a classroom to discuss wilderness preparedness, or water and fire safety, please contact us. We’d love to talk with your students!