Don Fletcher writes “Big News! We are pleased to announce the dates for our 2015 season! With an enhanced programme running in our 3 amazing locations around the USA with our 24 hour family, 24 hour adult and 5 day extreme courses giving everybody the opportunity to experience Bear’s extreme self-rescue techniques first hand.
Dates are also online for the re-vamped Survival in the Highlands Course based around Bear’s hit TV show the Island, do you have what it takes to survive?
For more information check out our USA page and our Highlands page
Don Fletcher writes; “Here at BGSA we have been making the most of the fantastic weather we have been experiencing in the UK. We have been lucky enough to have a Highlands Extreme course running, along with events in Surrey, Brecon Beacons and Shropshire basking in the sunshine. The only issues were when the thunderstorms hit on the Saturday morning on the Surrey event meant that the instructors were slightly concerned, but the clouds soon parted and the course enjoyed the best conditions of the year!
The course running in the Scottish Highlands were experiencing the hottest conditions on that course since its launch in 2012-with water proofs being replaced by sun cream and woolly hats replaced with sunglasses for the whole 5 days. The only drawback of this is the nemesis of each Highlands course- the midges! In their swarms at around dusk and anywhere out of the wind they manage to make the Highlands the only place in the UK that is more uncomfortable than the London Underground in this weather!
Finally, check out our updated website to meet all of the members of our team from around the world. If you have been on a course already you will be well acquainted with them, and if not then you will be able to see our friendly booking staff here at BGSA head office-don’t hesitate to give them a call to talk through any questions you may have about our courses!
Check out this awesome write up from the first course in Zimbabwe, thank you Jeanne for the kind words!
“The logical place to start would be too far back to make sense, but for me the doors just kept opening up. On a whim, scanning through Bear’s pages, the survival academy in Vic Falls jumped out at me and when the message came back to let me know that my application had been accepted I was stunned and overjoyed and overwhelmed and then I thought, “oh, god, what have I got myself into?”. I had gained more than 10 kg since getting divorced, lost fitness but still, it quickened my spirit. True to form, the next few months saw me kitting out, putting in a little training and, yes, gaining more weight. Great. My only thought was that the BG team was going to take one look at me, pack up laughing and send me back with a “nice try, honey.” But no such thing.
From the moment of arrival in Vic Falls, the fun began. With a sting from some or other malicious insect within moments of arrival before even proceding through customs, it was straight into the open arms of our welcoming BG baby-sitters – that would be the trusty instructor team for the ensuing adventure. Five of the seven survivors arrived together on the same flight so getting to know each other started straight away. On to the Nakavango Conservation Centre – a first class outfit dedicated to Mother Nature and protection of the beloved Black Rhino – where we were issued with our kit, stripped of all excesses including bath soap and energy bars, reduced to the “Bear” essentials and whisked off into the bush to our camp: home for the next three days.
Introduction to the bush caught us all somewhat on the nervy side. Throughout the first night – and each night following, lions let us know with heart-racing roars that they were patrolling territory around our camp so midnight bush-pee’s were a test of endurance or stealth! For my part, being a fairly well-seasoned African bush-baby, by the second night it was less daunting but for the internationals, sleep was not to be had for any persuasion.
And then the bush training launched in earnest. Nigel had us pushing our paces with sunrise P.T., followed by field skills with Dean and rope work with Paul. Of course, picking out edible seeds from the remains of elephant excrement was gloriously satisfying, smashing shells like Neanderthals with rocks in our bare hands and scratching out morsels from the remains. Real survival without food would take some substantial amount of insight into what’s edible if it really came to it.
Introduction to navigating a river raft down the swollen volumes of the Zambezi gorge came next and, golly, we were put to it. The most rewarding thrill ride of my life! Starting right from the top of the gorge, negotiating hazardously steep paths to the water, finding our paddle paces and trying not to completely screw up the commanding instructions from our skipper. On one or two occasions Brent’s tone carried a “move your asses or die” kind of urgency that left us in no doubt – throw weight behind the paddles, buddies, and don’t ask any questions!
Needless to say, we were doing sufficiently well at a point to have our water skills tested and our skipper felt it was time to see how we handled some real rapids. Getting steered squarely into a good wave, none of us (with the exception of Brent, of course) were left in the raft, which went straight over and had us all coughing, spluttering, some sucked under the waves and coming up cursing (all in good spirit).
Heaps of exciting preparation for our final 36-hour test followed. Between caking ourselves in stinking mud for a camouflage exercise, digging a new “s**t”-trench (pardon the French but that really is the bottom line!), chewing down some creepy crawlies and burning very odd fuel sources (I won’t give everything away for the intrepid enthusiasts to follow), we felt that nothing could be worse – or more exciting. We were proved wrong beyond our wildest expectations – in every good way.
Day dawned and off we set. With a final “meal” of porridge in our bellies, none of us took a “cheat” snack so energy became rapidly depleted as the day progressed – teach us for being a bunch of goodie-two-shoes! Well, the final 36-hours was a total wild ride. Without spoiling all the surprises we had our endurance tested, bush skills and culinary capabilities we never knew we had. Sleeping out with no protection was a trip! Stunning starry skies and sounds of the night. Suddenly friends become the most important thing ever imagined.
Finishing off was no slack-pace as we were frog-marched to meet our transport – the most amazing rescue ever. Just a total high. I can’t express enough thanks to the guys and gals of the BG team for organising and facilitating an experience that has left me buoyant and full of happy inspired satisfaction. What caught me most about the whole trip was the hands-on inter-personal engagement throughout. Never did we merely have our activities handed to us – we had to put ourselves through paces to meet them. Never once did we have any bad feelings and no matter how hard it got, how we were pushed or tested or taken outside of our comfort zones, there were good laughs, warm camaraderie, a healthy sense of humour and a victorious spirit. Not even a mercifully cleansing shower at the end of it could wash away the stain – an indelible tattoo on the soul – one that I would not want to fade, but to linger.
All things being said, it was an especial privilege, an adventure I wouldn’t hesitate to repeat. From here on, it would make my heart glad to give something back – apply some of the skills and contribute to the awesome work that the BG team and the Nakavango Centre are dedicated to. So watch this space, you could just see me again!”
For more information about our Africa course have a look at http://beargryllssurvivalacademy.com/africa/
Did you make the final cut??
We recently shot new footage at one of the BGSA Kids Day Survival courses that we run in conjunction with Fit For Sport. Continue reading “New Kids Survival Day video” »
The Weather Channel’s AMHQ was on hand recently to report back from one of our courses at Frost Valley in The Catskills, USA.
You can view the full clip HERE
Don Fletcher writes “With our courses gathering momentum worldwide, we are pleased to announce five new dates for our 5 day course- Survival in Africa. Set around Victoria Falls, this really is one of our most extreme courses with a large water element interspersed with some serious animals including the ‘big five’, plus the traditional BGSA survival lessons in a stunning environment- this really is the course to go on!
Check out http://beargryllssurvivalacademy.com/africa/ for more info!
BGSA is also starting to spread in the USA, with the opening course running in the Catskill Mountain Range being a great success. The new team out there put together a fantastic course, and we have had some amazing feedback from the participants. To read more about the Catskills 24 hour family course, have a look at http://swimcrest.com/2014/05/14/out-of-the-water-and-into-the-bear-grylls-24-hour-family-survival-course/
Within the next few weeks we also have 3 of our intrepid instructors flying out to California and Colorado finalise the exciting programs that we are about to launch. Using two of the most popular outdoor areas in the USA, Yosemite National Park, CA and Boulder on the outskirts of Denver, CO, these courses are set to be a hit. The instructors from the UK will be putting the prospective local instructors through their paces to ensure that our high standards are kept, plus organising the final exercise and completing the always exciting health and safety checks- it will be a busy few weeks!
Last, but certainly not least, due to our expansion we have taken on Anita as part of the bookings team in the office. Many of you will already have spoken to her, and Anita and the rest of the team will be on hand to answer any questions that you may have about our courses, so don’t hesitate to give us a call.”
Don Fletcher writes- “The BGSA Kids Course launch week was an absolute success, with over 100 kids enjoying their BGSA day in 4 locations in and around London.
In this launch week, in partnership with Fit For Sport, the kids were taught some vital survival skills including fire lighting, navigation and shelter building were enjoyed alongside some self-defence training, the famous BGSA ‘gross eat’ with a big assault course to finish.
The shelter building was a particular favourite with the kids, with all of the equipment provided by Battlebox, with each team managing to get a potentially life-saving shelter built for all of the members in the time allowed. A great effort all round!”
Plans are now in full swing for the summer courses, with dates to be announced shortly with numerous new locations looking further afield than London. Watch this space for more information!
Don Fletcher writes; “This past few weeks has been all systems go at BGSA with the start of the summer season kicking in. The inaugural family course launched in Shrewsbury along with the first courses of the year with the family course in Surrey and the Survival in the Highlands. Exciting times!
The office has never been so busy, with a huge amount of kit being ordered and delivered the work space seems to resemble a store room more than an office at times. Rucksacks, sleeping bags, head torches and knives are all taking up valuable space usually reserved for tables and chairs.
The Scotland course was run in spectacular conditions, with a light dusting of snow still on the higher peaks and fairly low temperatures at night made the course a challenge. This time of year in the Scottish Highlands is a strange time of year, with bright sunshine one minute followed by fog the next. This extreme weather can make the simplest of tasks challenging, with disorientation being the biggest concern. Fortunately all of the team really stood up to the challenge and made a great week of it.
The team working in Surrey, on the other hand, had some of the best weather throughout the country and a great bunch of guys on the course made the weekend very enjoyable for everyone. The team were still pushed to their limit however, with the instructors using their vast experience to find ways to make the course a challenge!”
For more information on the different courses that BGSA run in the UK check out http://beargryllssurvivalacademy.com/united-kingdom/
Don Fletcher writes; “Last week one of our lead instructors, Darren Swift, and I ventured across to Frost Valley, located in the Catskill Mountain Range in up state New York to finalise the instructor training and course content for the BGSA courses that are to be run there during the course of this year.
After a late arrival to the site late on Monday night, we were up early on Tuesday to kick off the training with a presentation followed by a test on the prospective instructor’s knowledge of all things outdoors. We were massively impressed with the team and with each of them bringing their own unique background and knowledge into play, it was no surprise to us that these guys had got through the tough selection process.
The rest of the day was spent walking through the location for the 24 hour courses and making rope safety checks, although with snow still on the ground the conditions were pretty testing even for 7 BGSA instructors!
The rest of the week was spent putting the final touches to the 5 day courses that will be ran, and with the whole 5,000 acres at our disposal there was no shortage of areas that we could use! We finally settled on some amazing locations, with the potential to use 4×4’s, helicopters, canoes and much more to make this a ridiculously cool course.”
Keep an eye on our Facebook and twitter for more photos from the trip, and for more information about the courses that we run in the Catskills see our website
Don Fletcher writes “The training team at BGSA made the most of another lovely day in south west London to put the potential instructors through their paces and see if they have what it takes to become part of Bear’s team.
Although most people were nervous at first, all of the guys really stepped up and put in some impressive performances throughout the day, and left the training team confident that the future of the BGSA kids courses is in safe hands.
The instructors were tested on their survival knowledge, presentation skills, motivation and the all-important communication ability- all of which will be tested to the limit whilst teaching the kids Bear’s survival techniques!”
The BGSA kids day courses are running from the 7th of April in locations around London, and for more information check out our page here
BGSA are starting Instructor courses starting from the 28th of June, for more information and to apply see here