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Outdoor Skills Training 2008

Course Purpose

The emphasis of search & rescue is most often to locate and rescue persons that are overdue from an activity in an outdoors (non-urban) setting. The lost (or injured) person's ability to survive the experience is often dependent on his or her ability to make the right choices and decisions early on during, or even before, their encounter with nature. The goal of this course is to make the student aware of the nature of these choices and decisions, and to give them the skills and knowledge needed to survive on their own for 72 hours in most outdoor environments. A secondary goal is to introduce the student to the search & rescue process, and the actions expected of a search & rescue "ground pounder".

As a secondary  goal, in any type of major disaster or emergency, it is important for every individual to understand that it is likely that normal comforts and amenities may be lacking, and they and their families must be prepared to be self-sufficient for up to several days early in event.   Outdoor Skills is designed to acquaint new members with these issues and learn how to work around them and become self sufficient.

When & Where

Date: Saturday-Sunday, October 11-12, 2008
Time: 08:00 Saturday to 16:00 Sunday
Sam McDonald Park
Park Home Page
13435 Pescadero Creek Road, Loma Mar 94021
(13200 Pescadero Creek Road, La Honda might give you car GPS a better fix, based on Google maps)
(650)879-0238 (Park HQ)
 Parking:  $5.00 per vehicle / day at the Ranger Station lot.
Notes: Parking is self-service, meaning you put exact change or a check in an envelope and put it in a box.  No Ranger or attendant will be present. The group campsite has flush toilets, and is about a 10-15 minute walk in from the parking lot.  We will be transporting your gear in via a vehicle, but you will be walking in to the site.


Generally cold and damp in the evening. Can be cold in the day.

Getting There:
Use the gadget below to get you to the approximate location; the address in the box differs from the official address, but it will get you closer to where you want to be.  When you get to Pescadero Road, watch for the signs for the park, and go to the Park Lot at the main entrance.

Trail Map

More information on the park, its trails and the surrounding area is available at the Bay Area Hiker site.

There is also a topo map of the area.


  1. Complete Intro Night Forms
    1. Medical Consent Form (For both Adult and Youth)
    2. BSA Forms
      1. Adult (21+) Application Form
      2. Youth (under 21)
        1. Youth Application Form
        2. Parental Consent Form
  2. Pay training fees
    1. $100 for new members, $50 for Summer Camp Attendees
    2. Check made out to “Cal-ESAR” preferred

Skills Emphasized

  • Shelter building and site selection (tarps, rope and stakes provided)
  • Fire building
  • Clothing care & selection
  • Food selection, storage, preparation & transport
  • Elements of a SAR base camp
  • Radio fundamentals
  • Basic navigation techniques
  • Beginning SAR techniques (hasty search and carry-out)
  • Personal sanitation
  • Minimum impact camping
  • Basic knots
  • "Rule of 3s" and Survival priorities
  • Important Plants (Friend and Foe)

Equipment List For Outdoor Skills 

  • Boots
  • Day Pack / Book Bag
  • Sleeping Pad / Bag
  • Clothes appropriate for cold, strenuous hiking and rain, such as rain jacket/poncho, sweatshirt, jacket, 2+ pairs of socks (wool or synthetic preferred), 2+ T-shirts, long sleeved shirt, 2 pair pants (1 light/1 heavy), belt.
    • Note: Many light layers of clothes are preferred to a few layers of heavy clothing.
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, soap
  • Personal Meds (if needed)
  • Sturdy bowl, cup, and spoon. Pocket knife optional but highly recommended.
  • Enough food for two lunches and snacks. Lunches should be able to be eaten on the go. Dinner and breakfast will be provided.
    • If you already have a backpacking stove, feel free to bring it along and use it, meals will be a group activity and will be a good opportunity for everyone to share ideas and demo equipment and techniques.

  • At least two bottles of water (filled to the top) and/or CamelBack-style bladder.
  • Headlamp, or small flashlight.
  • Extra items:
    • Wool or Synthetic  Stocking Cap or Balaclava
    • Chapstick
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunscreen
    • Neckerchief and/or Microfiber Towel
  • You should also bring along a bag or duffel for all of the above, it will be transported into the camping site for you.


Click here to login and access training materials and course notes.

Comments? Questions? Problems?

Ken Buscho

Outdoor Skills Course Director 

(408) 429-4603