One Boy’s Passion for Wilderness Survival Skills
One never knows when an inspirational person will cross one’s path. Today, for me, it came in the form of Marco Wells, all of 12 years, who visited us in Piha, with his sister Jelena, mother and father Tina and Steve and grandmother Helen from the former republic of Yugoslavia, (who recently attended our wedding a few weeks ago.) From the start, it’s a bit hard to determine who’s the biggest inspiration in this family, whether it’s Helen for starting her journey to New Zealand from eastern Europe years ago, or Marco’s dad who fosters his son’s love of the outdoors and wilderness survival. Then there’s his mother, who gets just as excited as her son, when we got the compass out and starting shooting bearings off the nearby peaks. It could also be his wonderful sister who’s eyes lit up during our day hike, when she looked over the edge of the windy cliff, which dropped a few hundred metres down to the Tasman sea. But this story leads me back to Marco.
A few weeks ago at our wedding, “Grandmother Helen” (we’ve also adopted her as our own), told us about her grandson who “is interested in the out-of-doors”. Well, when I started talking to Marco today at our home, “interested” was an understatement. Marco is passionate about wilderness skills, wild edibles, feeling the wind, and even a bit of climbing and just being out there. He’s got it in his blood.
My wife and I later wondered aloud, after they had left back for the Auckland area, what makes one boy passionate about the outdoors and the next, not. I was that boy which started with my romping and winter camping trips around the John F Gile Memorial Forest and Morgan Pond in New Hamsphire. Marco, his dad and I talked about “nature deficit disorder” and, stating the obvious, I mentioned the threat of video games, technology and kid’s lack of nature time.
(Image: L-R:Randy & Amanda Richards, Grandmother Helen, Marco, Yelena, Tina and Steven Wells)
Not Marco! He’s out back building different types of fires, constructing snares and assembling survival kits in a can. OK, I’m sure he puts his own time on the computer too, but he sure knows quite a few native plants and is working on lots of survival skills. On our walk today he was naming a number of plants and their their uses. He taught me a number of things today, but one stuck in my mind. When collecting and using silver ferns for a emergency shelter, be sure to turn the ferns belly up, otherwise, the tiny seeds, adhered to the bottom sides of the fern, will drop off on you during the night causing irritation and itching. He showed me the tiny seeds. Marco, just so you know, I’ll not forget that. (more…)