Students spend the day learning survival, avalanche training


Photo by Sarah Brown

Sean DeWalt, a risk management specialist working along with teacher Tim Kalke, shows students how to use an avalanche beacon.

By SARAH BROWN, staff writer

The Arctic Survival class practiced survival skills and wilderness rescue training in a day-long workshop in the woods and hills around Galena on March 11.

Arctic Survival teacher Tim Kalke, along with Sean Dewalt, a risk management specialist, took a group of thirteen high school students to the sand dunes twenty minutes out of town.

“Every time we do this trip, students have so much fun and they realize, ‘I can have some courage. I can do the trip. I can do more than I thought I could do.’” said Mr. Kalke.

At the dunes, the students practiced their skills in land navigation, improvised fire making, and avalanche safety and first response. The main focus on the work shop was learning how to be a wilderness first responder.

The students spent most of the day with Mr. Dewalt learning how to properly respond to an avalanche and specific safety skills that are needed in the process. The class learned how to locate people buried beneath the snow with beacons and how to rescue them from the point of location.

The semester-long class starts in January. It offers leadership skills, planning skills, teamwork, outdoor survival skills, and wilderness first responder skills.

In the spring, the class gets to take a thirty-six hour camping trip where they get spend time together practicing the skills learned with different activities such as setting up tents, night land navigation, and making an Arctic shelter, along with student bonding.

This is the second year that the school has offered this class.

By the end of the year, Mr. Kalke estimates that 75 students have participated in the class and the camping trip.

Mr. Kalke has been teaching different integrated leadership classes for five years.

“The biggest lesson that anyone can learn from taking this class is that, yeah I can do this and it might take some work but I can things I didn’t think I could do,” he said.

Mr. Kalke hopes that his students will take what they learn in his class and apply to all things in their life that might be difficult.