Jungle Training in Isle-of-Wight – Experiences
It’s no good if you want to go on a jungle trip like Borneo Baptism, but haven’t prepared or understood what it would take to complete it. For me, I realised that I wasn’t even aware of the differences between a jungle, forest and woods!! All have trees, insects and animals – so what?
I thought “I have been to many jungles” until I was informed that a woodland environment and the actual jungle in Borneo could not be further apart! 🙁 – now you know the level of knowledge I had. If you are like me, you really need to start here to understand what it is about.
We hiked Snowdon on 11 May 2015 and the kit list really helped us to complete the hiking without much trouble. Having already learnt the importance of a kit list, when we were asked to take the following to Isle-of-Wight, you bet, we all promptly did!
- Walking boots
- Trousers – loose cargo type
- Shirt – loose
- T-Shirt – cotton
- Walking socks
- Cycling shorts (not padded or reinforced)
- Sports Bra (females)
- Swimming Costume
- Fleece – for field use
- Waterproof jacket (if wet)
- Torch (head or otherwise)
- Disposable lighter
- Pen Knife of some kind
- Billy Can/Mess Tins
- Eating Utensils (KFS)
- Phone – Mobile
- Note Book and Pen
- Camera – if you wish
- Flip flops/light trainers
- Personal medication/First Aid Kit
- Personal Toiletries
- Sleeping bag (outdoor type if you have one)
- Sleeping mat (if you have one)
- Clay Pigeon Shooting
- Field Cooking
- Rope Skills
- First Aid
- Use of Machete/Parang (to clear the plants and bushes to make our way)
- Surviving in the field
- Water Survival/recovery
- Surviving night-time in the Jungle
- Lost Procedure
- Personal Hygiene in the field
Although we couldn’t shoot any clay pigeons (because of the unavailability of a Safety Officer) or have time to cook in the field, we managed to complete the rest of these activities.
Experience 1 – Rope Skills
Dryden helped us to learn and practice four basic knots that everyone should know:
- Bowline knot – very useful to secure something or someone without having a fear that the rope would squeeze them
- Half Hitch Knot – as the name says it is mainly used in conjunction with another knot, for e.g. two half-hitches could be used to establish a secure tie on a tree
- Fisherman’s Knot – is a common and secure way of tying two ropes together
- Sheet Bend Knot – could be used to tie two ropes together even if they are of different materials
Richard, who is First Aid trained, gave a brief introduction about what everyone should do in case of emergency:
- Check for dangers (for yourself as well as the casualty)
- Check the response of the casualty, i.e. breathing or not, conscious or not etc.
- Call for help – ask someone to dial 999!
- Clear the airway
- Check the breathing
- CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
Disclaimer: This is NOT a professional advice and just from the notes taken while listening from Richard’s briefing. So, please do get relevant information from a trained First Aider or professional body like St John’s Ambulance.
Experience 3 – Use of Machete / Parang
Paul and Colin shared their experience of using machete/parang to clear the plants and bushes in order to make our way into the jungle. There is quite a lot to take in and understand in handling these potential weapons carefully without harming yourself or others. You need to understand:
- distance to maintain between the person going in the front or at your back
- holding position so when you make your way through you don’t hurt yourself and / or others
- usage of fasteners so that the machete/parang stays with you even if you accidentally let go of the handle!
- how to pass a machete/parang from one person to another person so the receiver doesn’t hold the sharp end
Used bowline & half-hitch knots learnt in “Experience 1 – Rope Skills” to help a person to climb the tree as one of the survival techniques.
We have to survive not just by climbing up the tree, but also against the leeches. Leeches alone may not kill a person, but it is important not to donate blood in the jungle to leeches. This is an example of something learnt that may sound too silly to even discuss, but is important to know in order to keep everyone protected! For example. I wasn’t aware of:
- Gaters – which are brilliant in preventing leeches getting onto our legs
- Hats – of course I knew we would be needing hats, but I didn’t think that they could be a useful tool that could be used to prevent a leech falling from a tree straight onto my back!
- Midge / Mosquito net – hmmm… yes we are going into the jungle, it is sensible to protect against the dangerous midges as well
It may sound or look silly and one may think “Seriously? Do we need to be prepared to this extreme?” but hey, it is better prepared and well-informed than feeling sorry when you actually need one.
Experience 5 – Water Survival / Recovery
We couldn’t do any canoeing in the sea as the water receded earlier than we thought it would. Therefore Paul had Plan B to take us to the pond to learn some basic, but essential survival/recovery techniques. The pond was dirty and no one was ready to jump-in, but Paul lead by example and brought a stranded surf board (to act as a jungle log!). Whilst we were still undecided, he had already started to implement the plan and asked Dryden to grab a rope and swim across the pond to securely tie on one of the trees.
Before too long, there appeared a small enthusiasm between the staff. Sarah and Victoria had been asked to use the ski board and rope to go across as drill to transport people from one side to the other.
While transporting people across, he implemented a few techniques to secure the ski board to the rope using a set of carabiners, another rope and basic knots we learnt earlier.
We also simulated a scenario where we had to make a raft out of our backpack and a rescue bag!
After having had a nice dinner at Blacksmith’s Arms, we headed back to Jersey Camp to prepare for our last experience of the day (night, in fact!). We were given an introduction on night navigation and asked to assemble at a location where everyone will be briefed on our next experience. When we assembled the instruction was not to switch on any of the torches/headlamps unless in an emergency situation. The task was that everyone walks individually “into the woods for about 50 meters where there is a diversion on the right that leads to a place where, when looking up in the sky, there is a distinct open space between the trees and there is a tent like set-up on the right”.Once reached, that spot is where the individual should stand, in a place that is not clearly visible to the next person coming behind and as such, everyone should gain the experience of navigating at night to find a designated location without putting themselves or others in danger.
Apparently most of our staff made it and I knew I was standing at a location with nobody else! Although I did not get lost I stopped before the designated location which led us to experience the lost procedure as well. We formulated the lost procedure that the person who didn’t see another person / group for about 10 minutes or when their name is called by the group leader, they had to switch on their light briefly for a second or two to indicate their physical location. Then following the voice of the group leader would bring them to the group without having to switch on a light.
Although no one can simulate real jungle scenarios while training, it is important that you are prepared to face as many hurdles as possible. A bit of forward planning won’t do any harm, in fact it may very well prepare you enough to completely avoid it. So overall our 1 day experience in Jersey Camp, Isle-of-Wight, was very productive and I’m glad I’m with the right people who know what they are doing! 🙂