Deadfall Club: Nothing scary in nature

Spinnaker

Luke Skywalker’s high-tech training on the Millennium Falcon from “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” has been modified for the Deadfall Primitive Skills Club to teach the same skill that Obi-Wan Kenobi was trying to teach: awareness.

Members of this UNF club used a sleeping bag rolled into a ball and tied from a tree instead of Skywalker’s floating ball that shot lasers. Members were blindfolded and tried to hit the ball while others maintained silence.

Junior anthropology major Lynsie Dutton, a founding member and president of the club that based its name on a primitive trapping device, said members did actually hit the ball several times during this Jedi ball
exercise.

“It was really amazing how when everything is quiet, you can hear the ball whizzing by,” the anthropology senior said.

Activities like these have shaped several lessons on awareness, stealth and other skills required to really enjoy nature. The club was founded to provide UNF students interested in nature a way to learn outdoor survival skills and knowledge.

The club joined Club Alliance in fall 2008, but it really started two years ago when individuals interested in learning about survival skills started hanging out at the old nature center, Dutton said.

Another founding member, junior international business major Kevin Rodriguez, described club involvement as a learning process for each member. Most of those members are interested in learning more about the environment.

“We practice being aware of the environment around you and respecting it for what it is and understanding the power,” he said.

This kind of exposure is crucial today as many people grow up in cities without ready access to the world around them, Dutton said. In fact, people are often scared of nature because they lack the knowledge, but once a person learns what the threats are and how to avoid them, then the dangers are not scary.

The club theme this semester is “Living Comfortably.” And meetings, which usually last about two-and-a-half hours, will discuss topics such as how to build a fire and a shelter, how to cook in the wild and what type of clothing to wear.

Club advisor AyoLane Halusky, also UNF’s chief ranger, reminded members that the topics would require a lot of research and preparation outside of the scheduled meetings, which are Mondays at 6 p.m. at the Golden Pavilion.

“Preparing is more than just showing up,” he said. “You might have to do more side meetings and phone calls.”

Even though the meetings will require extra work, club members have developed several techniques and games to teach nature skills, Halusky said.

He described one such activity where club members try to blend into the woods using earth and shadows near the nature trails during night hikes. The members try to avoid getting caught and stay a few feet within the trails.

Rodriguez said awareness is a skill that is most applicable to everyday life, but students should not be afraid to go into the wild and learn more about outdoor skills.

“It’s really not that intimidating once you get comfortable with being outside,” he said.

E-mail Nicole Hernandez at [email protected]