The science of outdoor survival
Have you ever watched an outdoor survivalist show on TV and thought, “There’s no way I would be able to do that!” Or maybe you’d love to try. Either way, Daniel G. Benes is the man to teach you how it’s done . . . from both a survivalist and a scientific perspective. Whether you dream of tackling the Outback or you just want to make it through a camping weekend without a side trip to the emergency room, an Outdoor Survival Science by Daniel G. Benes class or camp is a great way to prepare.
For eight years, Daniel has been holding science-based outdoor survival classes and camps for children and adults alike. “There’s science in every aspect of nature,” he says. The skills he teaches include primitive, modern, and improvised methods of purifying water, starting a fire, building a shelter, fitting and packing a survival backpack, using tools and weapons (like bows and arrows), rendering first aid, and—perhaps most important—maintaining a positive mental outlook during stressful times.
“I teach the science behind many of the most important and popular survival skills,” Daniel says. “I don’t just show how to start fires by rubbing two pieces of wood together, or how to purify water, but I teach the actual science, physics, and chemistry behind such skills, empowering people to adapt that knowledge to the tools, materials, or supplies they have on hand—because this sort of inductive thinking in a survival situation could save your life or the life of someone you love.”
Bringing science and nature together
From an early age, Daniel was comfortable in and at one with nature, viewing it as a “source of challenge and inspiration.” He spent as much time as possible outdoors. “If I wasn’t in my bedroom soldering electronic circuits together, I was outside exploring every inch of the land around me—turning over rocks and boards looking for spiders, mice, and snakes, as well as studying plants and insects, fishing, and exploring the local creeks,” he recalls, “all while barefoot.”
His love of the outdoors began as a child exploring his grandparents’ Sunny Side Farm in Grand Haven, Michigan. After moving to Leander, Texas, as a 4th grader, Daniel quickly set about finding the owner of nearby Sunset Ranch to ask permission to explore as much of the 100,000 acres as possible, and by age 12, he had done just that. For example, to study wildlife, he arranged plywood habitats on the ground and checked them weekly, once finding a family of mice and a rat snake cohabitating just a foot apart under the same sheet of plywood. “I’ll never forget that!” he says.
As a young man, Daniel became a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician first responder. He says working in that field for four years, including time spent training for a search and rescue scuba dive team, prepared him for a future career as the founder and host of “Daniel G. Benes Science Shows,” which require his confidence and authority to keep crowds safe and to handle dangerous situations.
Those skills, as well as his wilderness first aid training, came into play when Daniel decided that it made sense to bring his talents as a science presenter and his love of nature together. In 2009, he created his “Outdoor Survival Science by Daniel G. Benes” program. In the programs, classes, camps, and courses, Daniel teaches students to look at primitive and modern outdoor bushcraft survival skills from a scientific viewpoint.
“Bushcraft,” he explains, “is about thriving in your natural environment. It’s about the use of century-old skills and knowledge that are practiced and honed into an art form.” These skills have allowed humans to survive and thrive for millennia and now can save your life. Daniel is also quick to clarify that his instruction is “about knowledge and know-how, rather than physical strength and training. For physical training, you should seek out a qualified personal physical trainer.”
Typically, Daniel teaches the science of outdoor survival at schools, academies, and youth centers. While the classes and camps are mainly designed for youth, he also teaches adults more advanced skills, including advanced fire-making techniques, primitive weaponry, and flint knapping. He says he will travel to any location in Texas that would like to host an outdoor survival class or camp, or one of his science shows and exhibits: “Have science, will travel.”
Still wondering whether you or your child is up for an outdoor survival skills class or camp? Daniel says that the best reason to do it is to build confidence. “There’s not much that can compare to the thrill of starting your first primitive friction fire or knapping an actual flint arrowhead using the same lithic percussion and pressure flaking stone-shaping methods that our ancestors used thousands of years ago,” he explains. “The confidence that comes from learning skills few people today have ever even attempted can translate into pride and confidence in all areas of your life. The returns are immeasurable and incalculable.”