– by Lindsay Strong –
Often, it seems that depictions of adventure focus on the individual’s experience. The images of adventurers are depicted as solo world travelers who, armed with only a backpack and a thirst for something more from the world, set out to explore. If you happen to be Indiana Jones, there might also be a really cool hat, but I digress. While these dreamy images might be fun to look at, the reality of adventure is actually much more about connection. For Mason Grove, the creator of the Minnesota Primitive Skills and Survival School, adventure is about oneness with the world and with other people. The skills that Mason cultivates and shares are as much about survival as they are about a sense of belonging to a world that is vast and important.
Growing up in and around the Twin Cities, Mason would often find himself seeking the wilderness. As a child, he recalls seeking out the little areas of nature he could find: the woods next to the railroad tracks or the parks by the Mississippi river. What originally began as an interest sparked by books and exploration, Grove chose to further his education in the skills of survival by taking actual, in-person primitive skills classes that both deepened his understanding of his own ability to survive in the wilderness and opened the doors to starting his own primitive skills school in Minnesota.
Based near Mankato, the Minnesota Primitive Skills and Survival School provides in depth 3-day long classes as well as hour-long workshops aimed at providing essential knowledge for staying alive even in the most dire of circumstances. Through this school, Grove is able to marry his own passion for survival skills with the opportunity to share with others. For him, this sharing of his knowledge and passion goes beyond survival and begins to encompass a much larger scope of the world. He writes, “I believe that the more people who have these skills, the more connected our society will be with the earth and each other… If a person has had to gather their own food from the forest, purify their own water from creeks, and catch, kill, and butcher wild animals for food, they will think more about how we clear cut forests, pollute our water with chemicals and farm runoff, and raise animals inhumanely and unsustainably.” It is through education and knowledge that Grove hopes to inspire people to, “have respect for the land and live in harmony with it.” It is through this harmonious connection to nature and other people that, one hopes, can heal the planet and begin to prevent future destruction.
For Grove, learning and understanding how to survive in the world not only provides an important outlook on the world’s environments, but also a helpful perspective on the self. He writes that these skills give his students, “confidence in their lives, knowing that no matter what happens in the world, they will be able to take care of themselves and their family.” And through his school and the classes he provides, Mason remarks that his favorite part of survival classes is getting to meet and spend time with people who have the same interest and passion for survival skills. “You just don’t get that anywhere else,” he reveals.
Beyond connection with the world around you and with other people who also have an interest in learning how to survive, Grove’s MN Primitive Skills and Survival School provides a well-rounded education in real-time and in the real world. In his multiple day classes, prospective students can expect to camp out in the woods where class is held and learn and practice all day. Through lecture, demonstration, and hands on experience, Grove’s students learn everything from how to survive with absolutely nothing to what kind of gear to put in an emergency survival pack. The choice to leave the modern world behind for an hour or a few days can teach students, “what plants to collect and how to prepare them for food or medicine, how to make friction fires starting with just a couple sticks, how to survive and move through the landscape undetected.” Not only does Grove’s school challenge one’s perspective on how we tend to live our day-to-day lives, but also prepares his students for a life full of adventure, connection, and exploration.
Mason Grove’s perspective on the world is one that is full of insight, sustainability, and surviving amongst landscapes, “on a different level than just passing through them.” His thoughts on living life adventurously and following passions are just as thoughtful and educational as the lessons he provides through his school. It simply begins where you are. He suggests that, “you can find adventure anywhere you are. Explore the forgotten parts of your area that are often looked over, small patches of woods, abandoned lots, city parks, and if you want to, start learning how you can survive off of what you can find in those places.” Mason adds, “living life adventurously means deciding to go against the norm, living life doing the things I love even if it’s less secure, and even if I don’t know exactly how everything will work out.” Perhaps, with a little bit of knowledge, a little bit more connectedness, and a lot more nature, we can all learn how to live our lives adventurously.