Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dual Survival: a Man's Soap Opera?

Many moons ago I was in the military and I had some basic Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training. That training and the mission’s requirements led me to have a peculiar mindset about survival which included different priorities than a civilian survivalist would have. During that time I attended a traditional skills camping weekend; not for training, but rather for fun. I wore my BDU pants, used my military rucksack and slept under a camo poncho like I was used to doing. Most everybody else wore blue jeans, just carried the stuff straight from the trunks of their cars to the campsite, and slept in canvas baker tents. At mealtime I demonstrated a dakota fire hole and explained how to use it and a conifer tree to have a clandestine fire, while they showed me how to cook an egg in its shell. They had one way of doing things and I had another, and we all just shared what we knew and why we did it. The whole weekend was that way…there was no drama, just learning. 

So why is there all that drama on the Dual Survivor show? Well, the sad fact is that TV must cater to the ignorant masses who crave drama and stupidity. While we would all love to see a truly educational show that focused on bushcraft and campcraft skills and experiences, it would be a ratings flop and a money loser. TV is big business and big business doesn’t do anything unless it makes money. So I understand why TV survival shows are the way they are and do not fault the personalities or even the producers.  They are just trying to make a living. 

For somebody who is somewhat knowledgeable and experienced in woodcraft or outdoor survival, much of the value of shows like Dual Survival is the opportunity that they provide to discuss and debate the scenarios, techniques, and decisions depicted in the show. To be honest I enjoy that opportunity.  So, until truly dangerous advice or stunts begin to emerge on Dual Survivor, I’ll continue to watch the show. But I’ll also continue to poke fun at the fabricated drama and pile on with criticism about the outlandish “survival” stunts!