Find the survivalist inside

Photo courtesy of  Todd Longanacre Forest Manna Outdoors founder Todd Longanacre has spent the last 22 years perfecting and sharing his wilderness suvival skills. One of the skills he teaches is foraging for wild edibles. Right photo, A shelter made with “found” materials.
Photo courtesy of
Todd Longanacre
Forest Manna Outdoors founder Todd Longanacre has spent the last 22 years perfecting and sharing his wilderness suvival skills. One of the skills he teaches is foraging for wild edibles. Right photo, A shelter made with “found” materials.

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

You’re lost or stranded in the woods. You don’t have a phone. You don’t have a lighter and it’s getting dark. What do you do?

It isn’t a situation that happens often, but if you do find yourself in such a fix, it’s better to be prepared. Todd Longanacre, of Forest Manna Outdoors, can help you prepare for any situation you might find yourself in when out in the wilderness.

Longanacre will share his expertise at Seneca State Forest in the Wilderness Survival and Primitive Bushcraft workshop, October 9 through 11.

“In two-and-a-half days, you’re not going to have a lot of time to feel real-life scenarios. However, what we’re going to talk about are the critical, the crucial things that one needs to focus on if one finds themselves in a survival situation. So it will be down and dirty – kind of cover as much as we can in one weekend kind of event. We will be off the grid. We’ll be off the beaten path and down into the forest.”

The first step in a situation like this is to assess your surroundings and decide what you need to do to keep yourself safe.

“We’re going to cover critical things like assessing the environment to be able to prioritize taskings,” Longanacre said. “When you find yourself in that environment, in that kind of situation, we’ll be discussing about the various steps that one would take to slow down, calm down, assess the situation, the climate, the geology, the temperature and then start to prioritize the tasks that you need to do to successfully negotiate that scenario.”

Tasks include making fire, gathering supplies to make fire, making emergency shelter and finding something to eat.

“We’ll talk about foraging for wild edibles,” Longanacre said. “We’ll talk about creating cordage, rope, out of stuff that we find. Any kind of fashioning tools. We’ll talk about traps and snares, primitive traps and snares. We’re going to try to keep it a basic, primitive survival class. It’s not an advanced course. It’s the basics of wilderness survival.”

Participants may only bring what they are able to carry in a backpack, Longanacre said. This isn’t a camping trip. It’s about learning to survive with what you have and what you can gather from the wilderness around you.

Since this is not an advanced course, they can bring whatever they can fit in a backpack that they can carry on their own, and that they can be comfortable with through the weekend,” he said.

Longanacre is the man you want with you, either literally or in your memory, if you are ever lost in the wilderness. An Army man, Longanacre has been doing wilderness survival tasks for more than two decades.

“I used to be a forest naturalist with the DNR and, later on, an assistant park superintendent at one of our state managed areas,” he said. “I’ve been military for the past twenty years. I’ve done wilderness survival tasks on and off over the course of the past twenty-two years.”

This year, he entered into a collaboration with the DNR to offer his program to the public.

“We have a great park system, and I saw this as a way to one, introduce people to West Virginia State Parks and State Forests who may not have otherwise ventured into the parks or forests; and two, to try to sustain or preserve what I believe is one of our cultural heritage and traditional skills that some of us still have. We want to keep those skills alive and pass those on to other folks, if not in the advanced format, at least in a basic structured format over the course of a weekend.”

Longanacre began Forest Manna Outdoors as a way to pass his skills on to others and to keep those traditions alive.

“I guess the older you get, you realize a lot of these primitive bush craft skills are quickly escaping society because of the technological advances that we have,” he said. “This is part of our culture. As people in the Appalachian region – not just the Appalachian region – but all over the world, these primitive survival skills were something we used to pass down from generation to generation, and now we don’t anymore.”

To sign up for the event or for more information, contact Longanacre at 304-531-3683.

Seneca State Forest is located four miles south of Dunmore on West Virginia Route 28.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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