Summer in the wild

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By Nathan L. McBroom

The difference between being lost in the woods and simply having an adventure often comes down to having the right equipment and the right training.

The equipment can be bought easily enough, but the know-how has to be learned from a book or taught by people like local outdoorsmen Joe Franzen and Bryce Stella.

During the school year, Franzen and Stella help their students at West Middle School get an education in the subjects such as world history and science, subject they most certainly will need to master to survive in high school and college.

But for the past five weeks, Franzen and Stella have put on a camp where local students have learned first-aid, woodsmanship and survival skills: things they would need to survive in the wild.

Franzen said the students and the teachers have had a blast.

"Some of these kids have never camped out before," he said. "It's really great to get them exposed to (the outdoors)."

The camp, which was held at Clear Creek Park, is called Kentucky Funology Expeditions. Funology, or the science of having fun, is a term that is used to denote ways of teaching students important, practical information in fun and innovative ways.

During the camp, the students learned to build a fire, canoe, use a map and compass and to set up a tent.

Along with the events at the park, the group also went to camping trips to Red River Gorge and Mammoth Cave National Park. This is the last week of the camp for the summer.

Rachel Cooke said attending the camp has given her a greater love for the outdoors. Cooke, who attended the camp for two of the five weeks this summer, said because of the camp she feels she could make it on a reality TV show such as Survivor.

"I think I'd be all right, if I had the right equipment," she said.

Other students said learning basic woodsmanship, such as how to start a fire from basic materials, was fun and beneficial.

The students said that whether giving a lesson in history or giving instructions on how to make rainwater safe to drink, Franzen and Stella make learning fun.