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Frye: Party on to live when in trouble

| Saturday, April 27, 2013, 11:39 p.m.

College crowds are by their nature diverse. But this?

Hundreds packed the student union at Slippery Rock on Earth Day.

Most were young adults, but there wasn't much uniformity beyond that.

There were skinny dudes with bandanas barely holding unruly shoulder-length hair in check.

There were rustic guys in ball caps, looking as if they'd just stepped out of a truck ad in Field & Stream.

There were girls dressed in soccer shorts and shin guards, girls in dresses and girls in yoga pants because, well, that's just what they wear these days.

Still, the speaker they'd come to see was easy to spot. Even on campus, muscular Norsemen with long blond pigtails who go barefoot and wear shorts at all times are unique.

That's Cody Lundin, who was there to teach students how to stay alive when things go wrong in the woods or, for that matter, anywhere.

You won't get that advice from television survival shows, he said — not even the one he co-hosts on Discovery Channel but has never watched, “Dual Survival.” Their emphasis on the dramatic, such as prioritizing the killing of something to eat above all else, is wrong intentioned, he said.

“If you're out there with aunt Jenny in the woods in January in Slippery Rock, she's not interested in eating woodrats. She just wants to get back home and stay alive,” Lundin said.

Doing that within the 72-hour time frame of almost all survival situations involves equal parts physiology and psychology, he said.

It's critically important to avoid things such as hypothermia and hyperthermia, so he spent a lot of time talking about how to stay warm and dry.

His personal survival kit — which he unpacked to great fanfare, with hundreds standing around him, on chairs where possible, taking pictures with their cell phones — is therefore big on tools for starting a fire, disinfecting water, rigging a shelter and signaling for help.

But just as important is the mindset from, yes, “Wayne's World.”

In that film, Wayne and Garth constantly encourage one another to “party on.” That's what survivors do, Lundin said.

Survey after survey of people who have lived through things like wilderness emergencies show all had the ability to adapt and overcome, make decisions, endure hardship, stay calm, maintain a sense of humor, and hope for the best and prepare for the worst, he said.

He told the story of a man lost in the desert.

He suffered such dehydration that his eyes sank and his lips receded. He walked until he could no more, then rolled to keep moving. He bled until his blood became so thick it couldn't escape his body. But he lived.

“When they asked him what kept him going, he said he wanted to see his wife and kids again. That one image kept him going,” Lundin said.

“That's got to be your mindset, that no matter what happens, no matter what goes wrong, you're never going to give up. Party on.”

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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