A Little History
A few thoughts, some history and Wilderness Videos
Back in the early 1970’s I began to teach survival skills professionally, it was at a Community College in Southern California. Before I could begin to teach that class the administration and faculty took a long look at my particulars and tested me in the direct fire of the committee room and the classroom. To get my credentials for that first job I was hopping through hoops that had never been raised before. The administration wanted to see my military records, talk to old associates and a bunch more. In the end I was given a classroom and a group of students. I taught at that first college for a couple of years and while I was completing my Bachelors Degree, I was invited to teach a "to be accredited" survival course at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) as a member of the part-time faculty. Once again the hoops went up. This type of course had never been taught in the CSU system and needed to be approved by a series of curriculum committees. The course made it and I made it. The course was adopted and I was hired.
A year later I was invited to teach the same type of program at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). More hoops and once again I joined a faculty., This time I had my Master of Science Degree (MS) in hand. Those were great days. For eight wonderful years I taught at UCLA and I taught almost 20 years at CSUN. I could have taught more and longer but the field trips were killing me. I was spending over 6 months a year in the field subsisting on mice and bugs. Though I owned a home I never really moved in because I was always packing for another trip. Summers I taught courses in the Sierras of California, in the Andes of Chile and just about anyplace someone wanted to hire me.
Something most folks don’t understand about Universities and survival is that survival is more than technique. It is Experience and it is physiology, geology, botany, weather, geometry, anthropology , psychology and much more. It is a science. That is why I have a Masters in Science and why I have done the course work for two doctorates now. I don’t care about the letters related to those degrees, I do care about the knowledge. Survival is much more than a matter of rubbing two sticks together. If you know why something works, it is much easier to know how to do it when the chips are down.
In the early 90’s I retired from the Universities and started Hoods Woods. Though the focus of the business was unclear at that time I always knew that at some point video technology and wilderness skills would come together. They did and what you see on this site is the product of that marriage. Before that marriage came to pass however I first needed to become skilled in the video arts. I went to work for a World Famous magician who mentored me in film making and presentation as well as marketing and sales. Karen joined the team and for 4 years we all worked together. Finally the technology breakthrough happened and Karen and I went to work on the Woodsmaster series.
Somewhere around the beginning of this millennium the cutting-edge technology I had adopted in the mid 90’s, became more accessible (Cheaper) and suddenly the world was filled with guys professing to be wilderness survival "Experts" with videos for sale. We welcomed the competition. We welcomed it because we knew that a video is more than just some guy blabbering into a camcorder about a topic he had just learned. It is about the filmmakers skills, the Videographers eye and the teachers communications and experience. Most of these videos are a waste of time and money .I’ve seen a lot of them. A couple of these "experts" bought our tapes and them mimicked them right down to phrases and gestures. They looked like a bad copy of me, shot with low grade gear, edited (or not) without skill, and duplicated in a living room at home. Gads..
Not all of these videos are bad though. I have some long time friends, also skilled survival instructors, who have made some remarkable tapes that are well worth the money. You can ask about them in our free forum. The folks in there will tell you what they think.
There are a few wackos in the survival business. These people are out to make a fast buck from an unsuspecting public. They can be dangerous. The sad part is, all they really need to do is go out in the field, do their time, learn from other teachers, give credit where it’s due and and work hard at the video makers art. When they do, in a few years or so they will have what we have built by taking those same steps… There are no short cuts in the survival instruction business. You gotta earn your skills. I’ve got many friends who teach outdoor skills professionally and everyone has done their time AND we help each other to succeed.
Recently broadcast television has brought to you a number of survival related shows. Some are fun to watch but unrelated to survival skills (Survivor and others), one is great fun to watch and the guy does not profess to be teaching anything (survivorman) and one is a danger to the public at large. It advocates very dangerous “survival” practices that might eventually lead to serious injury or death. The rule is, broadcast television does not teach viable skills (yet). It is an entertainment medium and nothing more. For that reason if you want to learn survival skills the best source is through dedicated instructional videos like the Woodsmaster, Cave cooking and Urban Master videos.
Finally, before you buy any survival oriented video tapes or DVD’s, including our own, check in with our forum and ask about the tapes you are considering. You’ll get honest answers from experts and students and you could save a lot of money. You might discover a real jewel of a video you hadn’t even considered.