WARNING: This blog article may be too graphic for those with weak stomachs.
It’s nearing the end of summer and children are back in school or headed there soon. My boys, who are avid outdoorsmen, decided that they wanted to spend the night outdoors at our cabin with one of their good friends—Survivorman-style.
Some of you may not be familiar with this approach. Basically, this means the following (or at least this is what their game plan involved):
- Find a camp location that provides access to water and food.
- Supplies are only what can be carried.
- Any food must be harvested or captured and killed.
The Planning Stage
The fascinating thing about this “project” is that they were laser-focused throughout the week leading up to this event. They hand-crafted weapons and minnow cages, made checklists of supplies needed, formulated plans, and forecasted potential outcomes.
Now, weapons and minnow cages aside, you may start to notice some business words being used in that last paragraph. Keep listening.
Conflict & Resolution
Upon arrival, the threesome engaged in some healthy conflict about choosing a site location. After some heated discussions among the team members, I suggested that they scout out each of the suggested locations, make a list of the pros and cons of each location and then reach consensus among the group about which location to choose for the night. It worked. They landed on setting up camp on a small beach on the river.
Once the conflict had been resolved, they were off and running! They collected firewood, set up shelter, and hunted for food. By mid-day (as I headed out for some kayaking) the team had a status update for me. They had captured a garter snake that was eating a frog and in their eyes, had successfully secured dinner.
Hours went by and no word from the team. Then two of the team members appeared at the cabin. It turns out that they were starving. Apparently the snake, frog, and minnows that they tried to eat for dinner weren’t as tasty as they had hoped. I quickly assembled a care package for the team that consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, cherries, Fritos (that could be eaten OR used for fire starting), and water. Back to the wilderness they went!
Again, hours went by. 10:00 pm came and went with no word from the team of wilderness survivors. As their Survivorman-ager, I was a little worried and shocked that they had made it this long out there. But, of course, I would never let them know this or that I knew from the beginning that they wouldn’t make it the whole night.
Sure enough, around 10:30pm the team returned. They were soaking wet, covered in dirt, and scared-to-death. Apparently, it gets very dark down by the river at night and things like bats, beaver tails smacking the water, and bugs all of kind make for a terrifying experience for a group of 12 year-old boys.
The Role of the Survivorman-ager
Now, you may still be wondering what this all has to do with Survivorman-agement. Here is what you need to remember:
- Everyday your team members are going in to the wilderness. It is your job to support and encourage them as they explore their own ideas and take on challenging assignments. Even if you have your doubts regarding their ultimate success on a path, keep it to yourself. You never know when they might surprise you!
- Facilitate and provide support as needed but don’t attempt to take over. Although I had to help the team work through some conflict and provide a care package, I never asked them to do anything that I thought would be a better approach or believe would have assisted them in reaching their end goal.
- Congratulate them on their successes and review key learnings. Although the team didn’t make it in the wilderness, they did make it until 10:30pm. Also, the team already agreed that they had chosen a bad location for their camp location.
This wasn’t the first time the team has attempted the Survivorman challenge, and guaranteed, it won’t be the last. However, also guaranteed is that at some point in the future, the team will successfully spend the night in the wilderness. When this happens, I will be very proud and know that I have successfully fulfilled my role as their Survivorman-ager.
On Target Talent Partner