Forget Sex in the City; Hudson Valley-based wilderness training outfit Mountain Scout Survival School is bringing survival to the city, and setting up camp right in the heart of NYC's Central Park. Their timing couldn't be better: With enough headline-making worldwide turmoil and natural disasters to scare the bejesus out of most of us – not to mention doomsayers citing the Mayan calendar's end date later this year as a harbinger of apocalyptic times – it seems that it's high time to prepare to meet your doom.
Heck, even if the Earth still manages to keep spinning on its axis for a wee while longer, knowing a thing or two about living off the land and surviving in the wild isn't such a bad thing to have in your bag of tricks. And, at the very least, when swapping stories of the day's exploits at the bar later that night, your tale of survival training in the thicket of Central Park will hands-down trumps your friends' accounts of their own humdrum afternoon there, spent merely picnicking or running around the reservoir (yawn).
Mountain Scout Survival School founder and head guide Shane Hobel (citing his Native American heritage, extensive martial arts training, and professional stints as a stuntman and current-day tracker as owing to his expertise) is to the rescue, offering classes in both wilderness and urban survival skills.
For a refresher course of sorts in the primitive yet time-tested skill set of our ancestors, full-day (9am–5pm) "Wilderness 101" classes walk students through the "seven arrows" for survival: shelter (create rope and build a debris hut); water (learn to locate and purify it); fire (discover "fire-by-friction" techniques); food (forage resources in the wild); tracking (take account of patterns); awareness (observe your surroundings); and movement (make your mobility more stealthy).
Or, sign up for the three- to four-hour "Urban/City Survival & Preparedness" (new for 2012) for coaching in surviving and thriving in urban emergency situations (i.e. natural disasters, infrastructure failures, political turmoil). You'll learn about emergency evacuation plans, communication alternatives, and "go bags," along with basic shelter, water, and fire skills.
In addition to the Central Park prerequisite offerings, students can opt to continue on with more comprehensive training programs at the Mountain Scout Survival School's Hudson Valley campus, with Wilderness 2 and 3 follow-up courses, and specialized training programs in tracking and fire-making.
The three-hour to full-day Central Park workshops run on select dates from April 18 through July 14; rates run from $100/person. Visit mtnscoutsurvival.com for more info and to book.
For general trip-planning information, see our New York City destination guide.