Survival 101 Dates Announced & The Why’s of Cold Water..


  • December 12 – 13
  • January 9 – 10 – Giles County, VA
  • January 16 – 17
  • February 20 – 21
  • March 12 – 13

I had a conversation about the cold water immersion part of the Survival 101 class this past weekend and I figured I would share the rationale, as I have had numerous people second guess their ability to handle it or the benefit of the drill. So here goes…

The first and foremost reason of the “Man or Woman in the Creek” drill is because it is a realistic scenario. The tragic story of  Craig Strickland and Chase Morland are just two examples in the tens of thousands over the course of our history.

Whether your clothes are soaked from falling into a body of water or soaked from rain, sweat, or snow, the end game is the same. It is cold, you are wet, and you need to solve the problem.

Doing that under the safety net of training allows you to experience a “worst case” scenario of being cold, wet, or injured, and helps mitigate the adrenaline dump if you face that scenario in real life. You will understand the cold water gasp reflex, know how long it takes for you to start shivering, how your fine motor skills are affected when the blood is pushed out of them, the mental confusion, and the awkward feeling of walking through sludge as your muscles warm up. You will know how to prioritize, focus, and accomplish the steps to handle that worst case scenario. You will also know that if you or your family are ever thrust into that situation, you have the confidence and skills to handle it.

In fact, while working alone last year, I unexpectedly fell into the lake with my rifle and pack in 30 degree weather and emerged laughing because it was a non-issue. You can read more about that here:


The second reason is that cold water combined with cold weather sucks!! It will mentally break you and allows you to dig deep and find reserves of toughness in yourself. The cold waters of the Pacific are routinely used to break BUDs candidates and I recently read about the “Rewarming” drill done during SEAL’s Artic Warfare Training. No fires for them, it’s  just good clothing, body heat, some food, and mental toughness for that drill. Bottom line is that cold water makes you tough and tough people don’t die easily. Image and link


The final reason is best summed up by this quote:

We are a nation of physical animals who have forgotten how much we enjoy being that. We are cushioned by this kind of make-believe, unreal world and we have no idea what we can survive because we are never challenged or tested. –  Chuck Palahniuk

I believe, and would argue, that every Survival 101 student that has faced the challenge, has also emerged a better person from that cold ass creek. Challenging your skills and yourself can only push you forward in life.

See you in the creek…




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5 thoughts on “Survival 101 Dates Announced & The Why’s of Cold Water..

    1. bigpigoutdoors Post author

      Yeah, good article. I was wearing Primaloft when I went into the drink and I have confidence I could have wrung it out and been fine. Changing into dry clothes in my dry bag seemed nicer

  1. Jake

    I have done the 101 class now twice (once before it was so formal and at a different location and snow falling). It’s an awesome drill. I have total confidence in my abilities because I have used those skills in what could have been grave situations multiple times (one unexpected night out in -15 weather while elk hunting in MT with a friend. Got the fire going, prioritized correctly and it was a non issue. Wet clothes were dry and spare food was consumed)

    To the point, it’s a great drill and with andrew there the risk is negated. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to become comfortable being uncomfortable.

  2. John Sabol

    I just went through this drill last weekend. Interestingly, I have experienced 2 accidental immersions in bad weather. I learned nothing from them other than ‘stay away from the dang water in bad weather!’

    The class drill however was vastly different. I was able to pay very close attention to what was going on with my mind and body while ‘soaking’ as I was able to experience this in a safety-first environment. I am now far better prepared to make wise choices and avoid potential injury or death should it ever occur again.

    A humble graduate of the Frozen Cheese School for the (not so) Surefooted.


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