40th Birthday Survival Training Course

We kicked off the Winter Survival Training season in 2018 with a three-day (two night) course held in the Plettenberg Bay Area. The course was designed and run as a 40th birthday surprise for a lucky Alistair and his mates from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. All arrangements were made by Natascha, a very competent and apparently much respected (read ‘feared’) wife to Alistair.

Needless to say, and largely due to Natascha’s efficiency, all of our hardy men turned up bang on time at the venue, Giraffe’s View, a stunning game park run by hosts Vicky and Neil Megersee (google them) in an area natural beauty populated with a wide range of wild animals including, you guessed it, giraffe… The reserve is big enough that survivors get a sense of isolation during the 30-minute hike from the reception area to our training area, nestled in a small valley of indigenous forest.

Without giving too much away about future courses, we’ve redesigned our programme to provide a more competitive and team-building slant. Imagine the TV shows Fear Factor and Survivor merging and you’ll get a good idea of what to expect. However, it’s also important to note that each of our activities are carefully considered for relevance to survival before we let them loose on the public! But, everything we do is designed to be fun, extremely strong from a team-building perspective, and guaranteed to get the heart rate up on a few occasions for those courageous enough to be the volunteers for some of the activities.

This was, essentially, a winter survival course, with temperatures dropping on the second night to 2 degrees centigrade. However, as is often the case on courses, the feedback on the second morning was that people had experienced a warmer sleep than the first night when temperatures were higher. Human nature being what it is, we tend to learn from hard experience what can make survival more bearable. An old expression from my army days – “Any fool can be uncomfortable….”

A lot of emphasis on this course was placed on the psychological aspects of surviving the trauma and ‘impact’ of an emergency. It would be fair to say that we used psychological pressure to simulate the drama and intensity of a real-life situation and, to this end, the students experienced a full range and swing of emotions during the course. From the elation of having achieved a difficult goal, against all odds, to experiencing the ground zero of a team disintegrating and malfunctioning despite earlier success, they went through it all. Apologies once again, gentlemen, for putting you all through the mill, but it’s worth it in the end. Right lads …?