When you see Bear Grylls on TV, it’s easy to imagine that you don’t see the full story. Does he really sleep in the makeshift shelter he just built from leaves and cobwebs? Or does he depart for the nearest five star hotel as soon as someone shouts cut? We’re more inclined to question the reality of the small screen in these days of ‘structured-reality’ and ‘dram-ality’ TV.
Bear (real name Edward), a reservist with the SAS until 1997, is probably best known for his TV series ‘Born Survivor’. He’s also been involved in several other television projects, all on the theme of survival in the wild and at 35 he became the youngest ever Chief Scout.
In response to thousands of requests from budding adventurers over the years, Bear has established the ‘Bear Grylls Survival Academy’. Relaxing package holiday with fun family activities it ‘aint. The academy teaches real life self-rescue skills, delivered by Bear’s handpicked team of highly trained experts. It’s referred to as ‘the most challenging but empowering survival course on the planet’, teaching the real meaning of resourcefulness and determination.
Have you got what it takes to join Bear’s team at the Survival Academy? We caught up with him to collect the details…
In your opinion, are adventurers the result of nature or nurture?
“Being an adventurer and learning how to survive in the wild is all about nature, as it’s where we started! Through the development of busy cities and stressful jobs and machines that do everything for us, we’ve moved away from learning how to live off the land and fend for ourselves.”
What skills does the academy teach? And how can they be used in everyday life?
“The Bear Grylls Survival Academy teaches people the skills needed to survive in challenging situations. There are 24 hour, family and adult courses as well as the extreme Survival in the Highlands course, where you experience the rough terrain and temperament of Scotland. As a father of three young boys I know what kids hunger for. Great adventures teach them not only great life and outdoor skills, but they also boost their confidence with a sense of knowing they can look after themselves when the chips are down.”
What level of physical fitness is required or recommended for the course?
“The courses are designed for everyone. They’re going to be tough for everyone. People learn everything from navigation to river crossings and fire-lighting. It’s a real variety that equips participants for any situations they may face. These courses are for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about themselves and what they are capable of, as well as have a challenging adventure.”
In addition to the survival skills the academy incorporates, do you find students develop new personal skills too?
“Absolutely. It’s about dynamic self-rescue survival skills, that one day could save your life. It also encourages key life attitudes that make that critical difference both in the wild and in life – optimism, team work, initiative, courage, resourcefulness and determination. The best part is seeing people grow in character as they learn many valuable survival skills. It makes it all worthwhile.”
The 24 hour family course sounds very interesting. What does it involve?
“The 24 hour family course focuses on bonding exercises for the entire family, comprising of a combination of survival skills and adventure tasks designed to put the enrolees to the test. We teach navigation techniques, how to light a fire, the best ways to use a knife, foraging for grubs and rodents, building a shelter, extreme weather survival and river crossings. It is the perfect opportunity to bring a family together to share a memorable and fun experience.”
Being an instructor in your academy must be one of the most sought after jobs in adventure travel. How and where do you recruit your team?
“We have training sessions for new instructors every couple of months. Certification requires completing an intensive three day course in Surrey. The course itself incorporates everything from lesson planning to astronavigation, as well as providing a sound coverage of student learning styles, risk assessments and public management. Aside from finding suitable leaders to run our courses, gaining this qualification will provide participants with the necessary skills for leadership consultancy or teaching work, sports coaching, outdoor activity and adventure training.”
Are you adding any new locations to the academy in the future? The Alps perhaps?
“We’ve got some really exciting ideas in the pipeline. You can now take part in courses in Zimbabwe and the US as well as here in the UK. You can find out all about where and when our courses are on the website: www.beargryllssurvivalacademy.com”
The concepts of foraging and self-sustainable living are increasingly popular. Why do you think this is?
“I think a lot of people are starting to grow tired of living in busy cities surrounded by thousands of people and are keen for fresh air! Also the issues of global warming and the importance of things such as recycling and buying environmentally friendly products are gathering a huge amount of support; I think this is because people do actually care about the planet and want to help make a difference to protect it.”
Are you planning any major adventures at the moment?
“There are hundreds of challenges on my list I’d love to complete, but you’ll have to wait and see for now!”
If you had a survival-off with Ray Mears, who’d win?
“I couldn’t possibly say!”
Where’s the coldest place you’ve ever been?
“I’ve been to so many really really cold places to be honest! The top of Everest was pretty cold… “
Should we ever eat yellow snow?
Find out more about the Bear Grylls Survival Academy at www.beargryllssurvivalacademy.com or call +44 (0) 1483 424 438