Sunday, June 05, 2011

survival school

My friends Nikhil and Jessica went to survival school in Utah four years ago. In this class, students are taken out to the desert. There's a period of fasting and hiking, then a lot of hiking and learning outdoor skills, and then a solo period. It was a life-changing experience for both of them. In fact, Jessica quit Google and is now an instructor for the survival school.



I visited Nikhil in Boston last weekend. I asked, "Are you going to do BOSS again?"

He said no one else asks about survival school the way I do. No one remembers that it's called BOSS. I ask about it every time I see him (approximately once per year). He said I obviously have an unusual fascination with it.

He said I should go do it. He lent me a poncho and a cup. He reminded me how he felt an unbelievable sense of inner-peace for a few months after returning from the experience.

I am really incompetent in the wilderness, but I would love to be competent. I want to know how to start a fire, and have the confidence that I can hike for a day without food, and know how to make a shelter from the wind. Also the possibility of having a life-changing experience is pretty appealing. The course I'm looking at is a 7-day course (whereas Nikhil and Jessica both did the 28-day course).

I told some of my friends, and they were surprised. One of them, who I've known for 15 years, said, "Niniane, you cannot survive in the wilderness. You won't make it for a single day. You'll last for one hour. At one hour and five minutes, you'll be asking the instructors to get you out of there."

I've been obsessed about this class for the past week, since talking to Nikhil. My other Boston friend Nehsters got so tired of hearing about it that she used a bet (which I lost) to extract an agreement that I could no longer talk to her about it for the rest of the trip.

I asked my personal trainer Megan. I thought she might say it's ridiculous to drink lake water and fast for multiple days. She said our bodies were evolved to survive in the desert. She also likes it because on the first day, there's a Cooper 1.5-mile running test. I'm supposed to run it in 16:30 at altitude, which translates to 14:30 in San Francisco. Right now it would probably take me 18:00 in San Francisco. That is a lot of improvement necessary. I know I can do it because I was able to run at that speed in 2003.

I think I will do it, because I don't want to go through life knowing that this was an imagination-capturing experience that could expand my perspective, and I chickened out.

From an online forum:
One reporter who did the course wrote that he wouldn't do it again for a million dollars, but he wouldn't trade the experience for 1 million dollars either.

If I sign up, I need to figure out how to join some running groups in San Francisco. I guess I will look on meetup.com. Does anyone want to run with me?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a similar experience since hearing from my friends about the National Outdoor Leadership School (aka "NOLS"). My friend who now makes a living in Central America as an underwater cave explorer, said that NOLS gave him the skills and confidence to excel as an outdoor leader. You can check it out at http://www.nols.edu/about/ . It is like BOSS, but seems to focus more on education.

David said...

I have a similar experience since hearing from my friends about the National Outdoor Leadership School (aka "NOLS"). My friend who now makes a living in Central America as an underwater cave explorer, said that NOLS gave him the skills and confidence to excel as an outdoor leader. You can check it out at http://www.nols.edu/about/ . It is like BOSS, but seems to focus more on education.

Jeremy said...

If you're going to start running, check out McDougall's Born to Run first.

Alejandro Sierra said...

If you ever come to Mexico City, I'll show you some nice places to run.

Yishan said...

Megan likes this because it is finally motivating you to work out.

Niniane said...

Jeremy, I just downloaded Born to Run onto my kindle. Thanks!