In their outdoor activities, Scouts learn to bring the clothing and gear they need, to make good plans, and do their best to manage any risks. But now and then, something unexpected happens. When things go wrong, the skills of wilderness survival can help make everything right again.


  1. Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur in backcountry settings, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, blisters, insect stings, tick bites, and snakebites.
  2. From memory, list the seven priorities for survival in a backcountry or wilderness location. Explain the importance of each one with your counselor.
  3. Discuss ways to avoid panic and maintain a high level of morale when lost, and explain why this is important.
  4. Describe the steps you would take to survive in the following conditions:
    1. Cold and snowy
    2. Wet (forest)
    3. Hot and dry (desert)
    4. Windy (mountains or plains)
    5. Water (ocean, lake, or river)
  5. Put together a personal survival kit and explain how each item in it could be useful.
  6. Using three different methods (other than matches), build and light three fires.
  7. Do the following:
    1. Show five different ways to attract attention when lost.
    2. Demonstrate how to use a signal mirror.
    3. Describe from memory five ground-to-air signals and tell what they mean.
  8. Improvise a natural shelter. For the purpose of this demonstration, use techniques that have little negative impact on the environment. Spend a night in your shelter.
  9. Explain how to protect yourself from insects, reptiles, and bears.
  10. Demonstrate three ways to treat water found in the outdoors to prepare it for drinking.
  11. Show that you know the proper clothing to wear in your area on an overnight in extremely hot weather and in extremely cold weather.
  12. Explain why it usually is not wise to eat edible wild plants or wildlife in a wilderness survival situation.


Scouting Literature

Boy Scout Handbook and Fieldbook; Backpacking, Camping, Canoeing, Emergency Preparedness, First Aid, Lifesaving, Orienteering, Safety, and Weather merit badge pamphlets


  • Angier, Bradford. How to Stay Alive in the Woods. Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2001.
  • Forgey, William W. Basic Essentials: Wilderness First Aid, 3rd ed. Falcon Guides, 2006.
  • Gill, Paul G. Wilderness First Aid. Ragged Mountain Press, 2001.
  • Harvey, Mark. National Outdoor Leadership School's Wilderness Guide: The Classic Handbook. Fireside, 1999.
  • Isaac, Jeffrey. The Outward Bound Wilderness First Aid Handbook. The Lyons Press, 1998.
  • Keller, William. Keller's Outdoor Survival Guide: How to Prevail When Lost, Stranded, or Injured in the Wilderness. Willow Creek Press, 2001.
  • Randall, Glenn. Outward Bound Map and Compass Handbook. The Lyons Press, 1998.
  • Stillwell, Alexander. The Encyclopedia of Survival Techniques. The Lyons Press, 2000.
  • Storm, Rory. The Extreme Survival Guide. Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
  • Tawrell, Paul. Camping and Wilderness Survival. Falcon Distribution, 1996.


  • More Wilderness 911. DVD. Wellspring Media, 1998.
  • Survival Basics, Vol. 1, and Survival Basics, Vol. 2. DVD. Tapeworm, 2000.
  • The Unexplained—Wilderness Survival. DVD. A&E Home Video, 2001.