Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts was always a pretty big deal. I remember when I was little my oldest brother was working towards it and went to an Eagle Scout induction ceremony near Columbus at a Scout camp. The new Eagle Scout wore a headdress he made himself, each feather representing a badge. It was held at night around a big bonfire and was quite a thing. I only saw the pictures mu brother took as my family left after dropping him off for his camp out, but we did get a chance to walk around the area before leaving. Wonderful natural setting in a woods with a clearing for the ceremonies.
I was in the Scouts too, and cheating on the badges was a pretty big deal. I knew one kid that got booted for it.
I went to a "Klondike Derby" once too. Each group had to make their own dog sled all from nature. Then there was a course with stations where something had to be done successfully before moving on. Chopping a log in half, starting a fire without matches, things like that. No one got a fire started, it was -8 degrees out. But they ran the thing anyways because the Scouts were not about quitting.
One camping excursion was my favorite. My buddies and I found a hill side that washed away to a steep side, and it formed a bowl like feature around a flat area that was full of brush. So we went to work and cleared it out, then build a dug-out fire pit in that dirt "cliff" side. Then we built a wood hatch door above the fire pit and knocked dirt from above loose so that when it came time to put out the fire, all we did was let loose the trapdoor above and let the loose dirt fall over the fire and smother it. Reset the trapdoor, dig a little dirt loose above it, and it was set for the next evening festivities of bacon frying and potato boiling. It was fun times in the Scouts.
Ah yes, I was a girl scout (and we actually camped), and my son's "den mother" (now Den Leader) for his 4.5 years through cub scouts - he crossed over two years ago and will rank up to Life after summer camp this summer, then he and my husband have a 40-miler planned in August in the Sierras, and next week we'll be in NM/CO for a couple of weeks hiking and exploring (and maybe, just maybe finding some treasure too)! We are definitely outdoor types - my kids and husband way more than me, but I go and do fine, it's just not my favorite thing....I'd rather be at a pool sipping daiquiris with little umbrellas overlooking a sandy beach...but the mountains call them, so we go.
Two things I think are important, especially for those who aren't outdoorsy - one, acclimate to the elevation before you go out for a long day hiking....the extra day or two getting used to the elevation will make your exploring that much better than trying to do it fatigued and with a pounding headache! And two, situational awareness can save your life - paying attention to the weather, grade changes on the trail, elevation up and down, how the water is moving, where the wind is coming from...if things turn, know to leave and go back another time - flash floods and lightening can kill you, a spained ankle can leave you stranded, miles from your car, gimping out really slowly, long after dark falls.
Here's a link to the U.S. Geological Survey site. If you go to: "Current streamflow conditions" in the second box down, type in your state, and you can get current info on the amount of water in the rivers near your search. What's nice is they have a convenient chart for each river/stream that shows the level of water flow for the past year. So you can compare July and August of last year to the current conditions.
Admittedly, I screwed up once. Only, once. It least that is how I remember it.
There is so much knowledge out there. You do have to sort out what is true.
there is a book bushcraft 101.
The basics are:
Have a means of shelter Have the ability to create fire. Lighter, waterproof matches Know how to build a fire. It is not match start charcoal briquettes. Carry a basic kit. I am in no ways an expert LOL.
In my mind the basics for short term survival:
The right clothes Some light weight means to overcome whatever weather you might meet. Shelter. Absolutely need the ability to make fire. Without fire, You might die of that suffering which is in fact separation from your current comfort. Water is first and the most obvious. Carry it, have the ability to resupply. A serious cutting tool. small axe, big knife whatever.
Lastly, mental attitude. As miserable as you may be, if you planned at least close to right. You ain't gonna die.
Not a given, but best chances.
there are so many survival self help videos on you tube. 15 pounds is all you need. Stick to the basics.
Last summer, my son who is in scouts, did the wilderness survival merit badge - he created an all-in-one survival kit with a Vanquest organizer pouch - the total size is 8x6x1 and I'm shocked by everything he managed to get into it....three ways to make fire (lighter, matches, striker), three sources of light (flashlight, light stick, headlamp), a water filter & two water pouches, pocketknife, shelter (mylar bivy), tarp (mylar blanket), rope, screwdriver, hand towel, stove with two fire cubes, wet tinder, scissors, pencil, pencil sharpener, paper, safety pins, beef jerky, sewing kit, altoids box of stick tinder, signal mirror, pocket chain saw, aluminum foil, first aid kit, fishing line, hooks, sinkers and two flies, and a mini-bag of M&M (you have to have candy if you're going to survive!)....all totaled, it weighs just two pounds and would get your through the night if needed. We toss in one of our packs and also bring extra socks and some warm layers to put on if needed, but it weighs next to nothing given how important it may be to have it!