Army ROTC hosts local Boy Scouts in annual winter survival program


By David Gerhold, Iowa State Daily Winter Survival

A group from the Boy Scouts of America will have the opportunity to experience Iowan winters in true military fashion. Jan. 25, the ISU Army ROTC will host its annual winter survival program which will take the entire day.

“First, we will teach the Boy Scouts certain indoor classes like first aid and signaling,” said cadet Michael Hoskins, junior in history. “And after that, we’ll take them outside.”

Using a hands-on approach, cadets will train the Boy Scouts how to survive in an outdoor environment during the winter while practicing important skills such as constructing a shelter and building a fire.

Cadet Kyle Simpson, senior in history, said they will create various scenarios for the Scouts to give them the opportunity to apply what they learned in real life.

“We’re going to teach the kids how to how to track [animals] by looking for prints or animal droppings,” Simpson said. “We’ll also teach them how to actually trap, for example, rabbits or squirrels.”

The idea of the survival program started back in the 1990s, when the Mid-Iowa Council first reached out to the ISU Army ROTC.

“They do a winter competition in February or March, so this is kind of a train-up for the Boy Scouts to get familiarized with some of the tasks they will be tested in later on,” said Major Kevin White, adjunct instructor of military science and tactics.

For junior cadets, the Boy Scout survival training is the first real attempt at planning and executing as well as public speaking, White said.

“The cadets learn the ins and outs of planning an operation and coordinating with outside agencies or, in this case, people on campus,” White said. “They have to know what they’re teaching and pass it on to these kids.”

White said that the training is also an opportunity to showcase Iowa State.

“This is going to be the first time most of the Boy Scouts are on campus, so [they] get their first impressions of the university from us.”

Cadet Hoskins said he started out as a Boy Scout himself a few years ago, which led him to study at Iowa State once he graduated from high school.

“I remember all the fun I had during the survival training,” Hoskins said. “Now that I’m on the other side and have the opportunity to teach them, I want to give them the same experience.”

All in all, Hoskins and the other cadets hope that the Boy Scouts will have a great time.

“They learn a lot and they’re engaged the entire day,” Hoskins said. ”Hopefully they don’t consider the time they spend here wasted.”

So far, the program is for Boy Scouts only. However, Hoskins said that they plan to extend the survival training in the future.

“We plan to establish a similar program for regular students in case they are interested, almost like a course study of how to survive in a winter environment,” Hoskins said. “It will be interesting to see how that might play out.”