Bear Grylls launches survival academy, shares tips

By GABRIELLE LEVY,  |  July 16, 2013 at 10:32 AM
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Survivalist Bear Grylls has made a name for himself as one of the toughest mammals on the planet.

He eats bugs, builds impromptu shelters and endures extreme conditions without any help from the outside, all while looking good for the cameras of his reality series, "Man vs. Wild" and new competition series "Get Out Alive."

Now Grylls is taking his expertise beyond the small screen, bringing the Bear Grylls Survival Academy to the U.S. for any outdoor enthusiasts who can keep up.

The first academy, designed by Grylls and run by his team of highly trained survival experts, will take place in the Catskills Mountains in New York in November. Another will be held in Texas at a later date.

Attendees will learn remote land and water survival techniques, firelighting, emergency shelter building, knife skills, rappelling, remote medical trauma, river crossings and -- it wouldn't be a Grylls adventure without it -- a "Gross Eat Challenge."

The course culminates in a wilderness expedition meant to test participants new-found skills.

Grylls already runs a 5-day course in Scotland which costs about $3,000. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and meet demanding physical fitness requirements.

Applicants must be able to: - Maintain a steady jog for 25 minutes without stopping, - Exercise without stopping for 90 seconds mixing press ups, sit ups and burpees, and do two sets with a minute rest between, - Trek for an hour in boots while carrying a 20-pound pack, and - Be a competent swimmer.

“So many people have asked me over the years where they can learn extreme, practical survival," Grylls said, "the type that requires spirit, determination and the skills to self-rescue against the odds, in some of the harshest terrain around."

Grylls said he was excited to take his academy to American participants, but not without a warning:

“Oh, and it may hurt a little.”

Grylls offered a few tips to people who find themselves accidental survivalists.

He dispelled a persistent myth that, when a car breaks down in the desert, it's a good idea to try and walk to find help.

"That is not a good idea -- people die because of it!" he said. "Thinking it’s only a few miles to the nearest town, they’re found dead two or three miles from their car because they underestimated how brutal and tiring the desert can be."

Grylls also reminded hikers not to trust their eyes when looking for water -- but definitely to prioritize water and shelter over food.

"People think that because water is clear and free-running in a mountain stream, it’s fine to drink it," he said. "In actuality, you don’t know what’s in that stream. There could be a dead animal upriver! Clear water isn’t necessarily clean water, and beware of mountain streams."

"Your priorities should be finding shelter and water, especially since in most places you’ll be dead in three days without water," he said. "Eating food will also dehydrate you faster, so focus on getting water before food."

Finally, he reminded people not to let their "egos write checks their bodies can't cash" and always, always follow your instincts.

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