The Pursuit of Survival Skills
My outdoor experiences and survival skills began at a very young age in Upstate NY, thanks to my parents. They both enjoyed camping. I was the youngest of five boys so by the time I came along, I was already camping at a few weeks old. We didn’t have much then, so we just had the tent and thought it was great. Over the years, we eventually moved up to a camper and spent most weekends of the summer camping and I think that was a great way to grow up. My brothers and I would spend the days fishing, hiking and exploring, and of course, fighting with each other.
Being quite a mess in high school, I didn't know what I was going to do after graduation and looked for the most difficult thing I could think of. That was the U.S. Marine Corps. After basic training and schools, I was in the reserves and only had to do one weekend a month and two weeks every summer. It was a great way to do it. I go to go be a Marine on weekends and go do something like cold weather training or desert training in the summer for a couple weeks. I was in a good unit and they often set up good training for us and I learned quite a few survival skills as well.
A little while after I started the reserves I started college in Utica NY and then Buffalo, NY. Through these years I didn't get much outdoor time as I was working full time, going to school full time and living with my future wife. We were pretty busy and she's not much of an outdoors person. The only dirt time I got was on the reserve weekends and during the two weeks in the summer.
In my fourth year of college I got called up for Desert Shield/ Storm and did that for about six months. I got a lot of dirt time and survival skills time then. We were living in the field most of the time and constantly moved, made shelters and dug wholes covered in tarps to live in. The funny thing is that when I got back, I had a huge desire to go camping but didn’t make it out for years. When we both completed school, my wife and I moved from NY to Maryland. She's a teacher and I was in sales in the Washington DC area. In the mid 90’s I bought a small family business from my parents and quit my job. That business is the beginning of Camping Survival.com.
After a number of years in Maryland we finally had children and moved back to Upstate NY to raise the kids around our family. We’re still here and we just started “camping” a few years ago. I put camping in quotes because I really missed camping, but the only way to go at the time was to buy a rolling motel room. My wife and I are separated now, so the kids, the dog and I drag the camper around during the summer and do some hardcore camping too. The kids and I have fun hiking, playing, enjoying the outdoors, testing gear and practicing the wilderness survival skills I’ve been aquiring over the years. Some of my hikes and dirt time aren’t all that hardcore, but I get a lot of time to play with gear, practice survival skills, try new skills and attempt to master the fire bow.
A couple years before Y2K, I started really thinking about preparedness and how to take care of my family in an emergency. I look back now and realize that even back when I was a little kid I was interested in preparedness. I convinced my parents to fill up empty gallon milk jugs with water and store it in the basement, just in case. And I think back to when we lived in the DC area, when my wife and I would come home from grocery shopping, I would say to myself “If anything happened right now we'd be ok for a little while.” So when the first talk of Y2K started, I began learning more about preparedness and really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I began buying and checking out all sorts of preparedness gear and information. Meanwhile many of my customers and suppliers for my specialty tool company, were faxing and mailing letters to make sure we were Y2K compliant. The more I read and learned the more I thought that something could happen but probably wouldn't. But isn't that the case with life in general? Maybe because we were all on top of it, or maybe it was just all hype. Either way, it all gave me the reasons to start being prepared. To learn more about how I started Camping Survival.com, click here.
I have spent years studying preparedness, survival skills and wilderness survival including refreshing some of the things I learned in the Marine Corps. I studied on my own as well as making the commitment to spending at least one week a year at a terrific Wilderness Survival skills School. I also realize that passing this knowledge on to my children helps me learn it better as well as them and if anything does happen, my family can contribute with what they know rather than just adding to the stress.
— Tom Sciacca