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Fred Blackstein's popular wilderness course being offered to help fund Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre

By Anthony Dixon, The Daily Observer

The Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre (OEC), a registered, charitable not for profit organization, was incorporated in 2010. The property has been in the Shaw family since 1847. Currently the OEC boasts 50 hectares of old-growth forest and 160 hectares of wetlands and mixed forest. Its  14 km network of trails is maintained by a team of volunteers.

The Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre (OEC), a registered, charitable not for profit organization, was incorporated in 2010. The property has been in the Shaw family since 1847. Currently the OEC boasts 50 hectares of old-growth forest and 160 hectares of wetlands and mixed forest. Its 14 km network of trails is maintained by a team of volunteers.

A cause near and dear to the heart of master canoeist Fred Blackstein has once more urged him out of the wilderness to offer his popular survival course.

This time the wilderness itself is the beneficiary as 100 per cent of the proceeds from the one-day program will be used to support operations at the Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre.

The course is being offered on Saturday, April 16 beginning at 8:30 a.m. and running until 4:30 p.m. It is taking place in the great outdoors at the Shaw Woods, located at 2065 Bulger Road near Lake Dore.

The curriculum features the knowledge Blackstein has amassed over decades of tramping and paddling through the wilderness as well in talking with people like lumberman, fire rangers, and search and rescue technicians.

Back in 2010, Blackstein put it this way, "This is not in the book. It is what works, learned from professionals in those fields."

Over the years, he has taught more than 1,000 people, including police officers, paramedics, search and rescue (SAR) teams and me (the author of this story) all aspects of wilderness survival.

A keen outdoorsman, he is the leader of Renfrew County's civilian SAR team. He is an OPP-certified SAR instructor and has received commendations for SAR activities from both the commissioner of the OPP and the base commander of Garrison Petawawa. For his SAR efforts and other volunteer activities, Blackstein was awarded Canada's highest honour when he was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada.

Through the course Blackstein will help students learn to navigate in wilderness areas with map and compass, as well as understanding the use of global positioning systems (GPS). In addition, he will teach navigating by the sun or stars in an emergency situation.

Other topics in the program include starting a fire in inclement weather, treating hypothermia, water purification, setting up an emergency shelter, dealing with bad weather, and understanding black bear behaviour.

Blackstein is donating his time and all equipment needed for the day will be provided by him to course participants.

He said the course is a great fit for outdoor enthusiasts including (but not limited to) snowshoe and cross-country skiers, canoeists and kayakers, snowmobilers, ATV riders, hikers, or back country people who want to trip in Temagami, or Algonquin.

The course fee is a $75 donation to the Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre. Tax receipts for the full amount will be handed out at the course.

Registration can be emailed to: shawwoodsoec@gmail.com. Please include your name, address and contact information. Fee payment options can be found at http://shawwoods.ca/donate/donate.html

Space is limited and only 15 participants will be accepted. Fees are non-refundable.

With the strong possibility of demand exceeding the one session on April 16, a second offering may be scheduled for the following Saturday, April 23.

Adixon@postmedia.com

 



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