Survivalists in Training

The DVR has been working overtime at our house lately.  Even though the networks are still in the “dead zone” they call the summer hiatus, you can find great stuff on Discovery Channel.  Our family’s genre of choice lately is the survival show.  (OK, 16-year-old SuzyQ does not particularly enjoy these shows.) 

It all started with Junior (13-year-old son) becoming enamored at about age 5 with the Crocodile Hunter.  Then he moved on to Shark Week.  Out of that fascination for the outdoors and wildlife came his interest in survival shows.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Junior is a “doer”.  He doesn’t want to simply be outside; he wants to do stuff out there.  Learning how to build snow caves, climb rock faces, and fire-starting 101 are right up his alley.

After years of watching these shows with him, I have come to enjoy them in a train wreck, you-can’t-look-away fashion.  Anyone who knows me at all understands that I’m certainly not watching to acquire new skills.  I don’t even camp–ever.  I’m also a germ-a-phobe who insists on good hand washing practices in our household.

Nevertheless, there’s something seriously entertaining about watching the Special Forces guy and his wife trekking into the desert or the jungle and trying not to kill each other while practicing survival techniques on “Man, Woman, Wild.”  On the website, the show is described as having the couple “find common ground standing up to nature in the wildest places on Earth.”  I’m not sure about the “common ground” part, though.  Her bio brags of her own wild adventures all over the world as a journalist, but on this show, she acts as the rookie following his expertise.

Not so entertaining but still worthy of some laughs is “Dual Survivor.”  This show pairs a hippy “minimalist” with another former Army guy turned hunter / tracker.  The hippy’s claim to fame is that he has gone barefoot for 20 years as he lives off the land in Arizona.  He also only wears shorts and some kind of hand-woven hoodie.  I have news for you, hippy minimalist: your efforts at survival would go a lot easier if you wore pants–and shoes.

Of course, the Godfather of survivalists is Bear Grylls of “Man Vs. Wild.”  A former British Special Forces guy, he was the youngest Brit to climb Everest.  Every episode finds Bear eating something really noxious, peeing on camera, or going partially naked for some good reason.  He’s great at laughing at himself as he falls out of his primitive hammock or lands in an embarrassing position.  What I like best about him, though, is that he brings a real human touch to the show.  He often talks about missing his family and worrying about them.  And he is not afraid to talk about how faith and prayer can help in desperate situations.

So I guess if our country’s economy totally melts down, terrorists take out our power grid, or a giant asteroid wipes out civilization, we will be somewhat prepared.  And you can bet we will all be wearing pants.


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