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Surviving in nature

Camps teach children skills to use in the outdoors

Seekers Wild, in its sixth year of hosting camps in Albert Lea, has made a mission out of teaching children about nature.

Its Wilderness Survival, Stealth and Beyond camp took place this week, with events ranging from learning how to start friction fires and basic fire building, learning what insects and plants are edible, as well as what animals are best to trap for basic survival, boiling water and learning different camouflage techniques using mud, fire ash and charcoal. Campers also learn how to make rope or cordage out of natural materials and basic stealth training.

Seekers Wild founder and camp director Derek Barkeim, who is based out of Winona, said he teaches campers the difference between modern amenities and barely scraping by.

The ages of campers typically average between 8 and 12 years old. Barkeim said that about 75% the majority of campers are boys, with the rest of the classes being split pretty evenly between boys and girls. He has learned to not follow stereotypes, though, when it comes to survival training, as he said it seems that more often than not, girls tend to pick up the skills faster at those younger ages.

“They seem to have a leg up on the boys at this age,” Barkeim said.

He said he decided to start the Seekers Wild camps because he enjoyed the same activities as a child, and believes it’s important for people to get back to nature.

“I realized how important it was to be outside,” he said. “Getting people outside and reconnecting with the natural world.”

A fishing camp is planned for July in Albert Lea. Camp participation is currently being limited to nine campers due to COVID-19 restrictions, but otherwise that number would only increase slightly, as  Barkeim  said he wants campers to have the safest, most inclusive camp experience possible.

Seekers Wild information can be found at seekerswild.com or on its Facebook or Instagram pages, and Barkeim said the best way to get up-to-date information is through the Facebook page.

 

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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