NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Basic Survival Skills With Kids!

When teaching survival skills to our campers, I like to ask them if they have ever been in a situation where they’ve been lost or required to stay overnight in the wild. Fortunately, we haven’t had any campers stuck in serious survival situations, but how can we provide them with the basic skills if they were? These are several activities and ideas that teach basic survival skills that could prove to be useful. 

1. S.T.O.P.
If you find yourself in a situation where you become lost, injured, or face rapidly changing weather, it’s a good idea to use the STOP acronym. This stands for stop, think, observe, and plan. Maintaining a positive mental attitude and not panicking is essential when it comes to a survival situation. You can survive three minutes without oxygen, three days without water, and three weeks without food. However, panicking in a survival situation can quickly lead to disaster.

2. Shelter Building
If you find yourself in a survival situation where you know you’ll be spending the night in the wild, a shelter can make a huge difference. A shelter can be as simple as a dry spot beneath the overhanding branches of a pine tree, or as elaborate as a log shelter that is protected from the wind and cold. Depending on the environment you live in will also determine the type of shelter you can make. Start out simple with tarps or trash bags and work your way up to more advanced shelters made from downed logs. Take into account other factors when it comes to shelter building such as the proximity to water, dead trees, and the likelihood of rescuers finding you. 

3. Fire
It’s always a good idea to carry some type of fire starter, whether it’s waterproof matches, a lighter, or magnesium stick. I like to teach kids how to start a fire with a magnesium stick, a pocketknife, and some type of tinder. Twine and dryer lint are easy to light and hold a flame for a short time. Showing kids how to build different types of fires for warmth and cooking are also important. I like to have kids gather tinder, kindling, and fuel and build different types of fires such as log cabin, teepee, or lean-to. 


4. Food/Water
Finding water and food is also essential in survival situations. If water is available from a stream, it is still necessary to filter and boil for at least five minutes. A filter can be made with cloth, rocks, and sand. The water collected after running it through your filter should be clear. If you are in an area with snow, melt the snow instead of eating it. Eating snow can lead to hypothermia. When it comes to food, learning the types of edible plants in the area is best. Hunting and trapping skills are also beneficial, but can be difficult without the right equipment. 

5. First Aid
Keeping a first aid kit in your pack is also essential. Your first aid kit should contain items such as bandages, gauze, tape, and pain medication. Knowing how to treat different types of cuts, wounds, or other injuries can make a huge difference when you’re in a survival situation. Carrying a good knife is also important and can be a handy tool in a variety of different ways. 

Teaching kids these skills at a young age can help them practice and develop them over time. Although the likelihood of finding yourself in a survival situation might be rare, it’s a good idea to have basic knowledge and skills of what to do in case it does happen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Nevada Outdoor School is a Leave No Trace Youth Accredited Program!

Nevada Outdoor School is pleased to announce that it is now a Leave No Trace Youth Accredited Program! Leave No Trace the Center for Outdoor Ethics is a National organization that protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. Last year, Nevada Outdoor School took the next step towards making our youth outdoor ethics programs even better, by participating in the Leave No Trace Youth Program Accreditation. The Youth Program Accreditation connects youth serving Organizations, like Nevada Outdoor School with essential standards and assessment resources, which will enhance the impacts of stewardship education for young people. There are 11 standards Set by Leave No Trace, which any accredited program must comply. During this process, Nevada Outdoor School has completed a variety of exercises and evaluations, including interviews with participants and staff, which have helped us to evaluate the effectiveness of our youth Leave No Trace education. Using the information gathered NOS has set goals and created action plans, which will guide us though the next year of creating even better programs. We are honored that Leave No Trace has approved Nevada Outdoor School as a fully Accredited Leave No Trace Youth Program. As a Fully accredited youth Program, Nevada Outdoor School demonstrates the highest commitment to providing youth in Nevada with relevant and accessible Leave No Trace education. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Reflections on AmeriCorps Service - Friends of Nevada Wilderness

My name is Peter and I am an AmeriCorps Alumnus.  

I recently completed two back-to-back 10 week contracts with the Nevada Outdoor School AmeriCorps Program at the Host Site Friends of Nevada Wilderness.  Ten weeks go by pretty fast, and so do two sets of ten, so when I look at back at all that we accomplished it’s a bit overwhelming.  During my twenty weeks working with Friends of Nevada Wilderness I participated in 8 volunteer field projects – two of which were 4-day overnight hitches at 10,000’, 6 outreach events including the Federal Duck Stamp Competition Judging at Springs Preserve, 5 solo wilderness monitoring trips, worked with 4 Federal Land Management Agencies – BLM, NPS, FWS, and USFS – as well as state agencies and NGOs, completed 3 scouting trips to plan projects, lead 2 volunteer projects, and helped host 1 Wild and Scenic Film Festival with Zappos and Smokey the Bear.  That’s not even taking into account miles hiked, flora and fauna sighted, trash picked up, graffiti removed, interests encouraged, volunteers inspired, or friends made.  You can do and see a lot in 20 weeks.

AmeriCorps offers an opportunity to travel for many people.  I was able to travel locally during my time serving.  I chose to stay in Las Vegas, my home town, and to apply to a program at a site I am very familiar with.  I’ve volunteered with Friends of Nevada Wilderness since 2015.  FNW is a statewide non-profit that has contributed to the designation of every one of the over 70 Wilderness Areas in Nevada.  We have 18 in Clark County alone, and during my 20 weeks I visited 13 of them.  While all of these areas are relatively close to town, I had never seen many of them.  It was like seeing a whole new side (a baker’s dozen new sides) of my hometown.  This was an extremely valuable experience in and of itself.  Seeing Las Vegas from a dozen new angles – often with new people who were also seeing these places for the first time, often with people intimately familiar with the landscape, sometimes alone – allowed me to look at a lot of things in a new light.  I was very pleasantly surprised by the amazingly diverse cross-section of Las Vegans who come out to support our Public Lands and Wild Spaces.  The Wilderness and the Spirit of Service really unite people, it’s a beautiful thing to see.  

My time with AmeriCorps taught me that I can accomplish a lot more than I thought I could, physically and mentally.  At times it was at times challenging, but always rewarding.  I would do it again.