Adult, Family, Wild Camp and Team Building survival courses at Cowdray
We met with Scott, Professional Mountaineer, TV Location Scout and Head of Instructors at Bear Grylls Survival Academy and asked him some weird and wonderful questions about where it all began and what the plans are for the future.
What attracted Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Cowdray in the first place?
As a location Cowdray just can’t be beaten. The enticing South Downs are aesthetically pleasing and when you delve deeper, the variety of terrain provides everything we need and more, woodland, rivers, rolling landscape, wild edibles and abundant wildlife.
How will courses at Cowdray develop in the coming years?
We initially introduced two courses to Cowdray, Family and Adult courses in 2017. We have quickly progressed by adding our Wild Camps and Corporate Events. The next focus will be the junior market, perhaps Children’s Survival and Summer Camps – there’s so much potential!
Do you encourage a digital detox on Survival Courses?
That’s probably the easiest element of our courses; there simply isn’t time for a screen. Courses are action packed with lessons, activities and challenges and we move fast, BG style. Digital Detox is simple when you are provided with this level of distraction.
How will survival skills stand you in good stead for the future?
A lot of our survival skills have been forgotten over the last few decades and at BGSA our aim is to leave clients with a few important skills. You never know, they might just save your life… Fire lighting, shelter building or if you are really desperate, perhaps the ability to locate and eat a live meal worm.
If you were fending for your life on the Cowdray Estate, what dish or menu would you put together with the resources available to you?
There is so much wild food available in the South Downs and on the Estate, it should be quite a feast. It’s seasonal of course, I’d incorporate elderberries, rowan berries, haws, rosehips and sloes from the hedgerows in the autumn/winter. You can forage for wild garlic, wild onion, hawthorn, stinging nettles, wood sorrow and a range of wild mushrooms in the open. Seriously, steer clear of the mushrooms unless you are an expert, it’s just too easy to get it wrong. I’d find sweet wild raspberries, strawberries and bilberries for pudding and I’d drink well too. Elderflowers make a delicious cold drink and heather flowers can be turned into a herbal tea.
How would a child who had been on your survival courses benefit in the real world?
Apart from the survival skills, they will learn the importance of being part of a team, determination and drive when the going gets tough. They will also make friends for life and have a lot of fun. You can’t achieve any of those skills from a screen.
If you could give one vital survival tip for everyone, what would it be?
Skills are great but it’s a positive mental attitude that will get you through, the will to win, the will to survive and above all as Bear says, ‘Never give Up’.
What’s your most memorable challenge/activity you’ve been involved in at Cowdray?
We have done so much on the estate from 100ft high tree climbs, rope Tyrolean’s across the river and eating some truly terrible bugs and worms on some of our corporate events. However, we filmed a promotional video last winter and jumping into the River Rother and swimming across in near freezing conditions is never fun. Luckily, I was needed to direct the crew so didn’t need to get wet. Unfortunately, the BGSA instructors on camera had to do the sequence two or three times for the camera. Pretty cold!
For more information on Bear Grylls Survival Academy at Cowdray click here