Q&A with Survivorman – Les Stroud

“Survivorman” Les Stroud: filmmaker, outdoorsman, musician, survival expert, and star of the hit television series Survivorman. Essentially, a true 21st Century renaissance man. Photo © Laura Bombier.

Introduction

This Q&A features an individual whose work has inspired me for many years: the original Survivorman – Les Stroud.

Stroud’s hit television series Survivorman set off a frenzy of survival-themed reality shows. But unlike all of its copycats, Survivorman was for real. Stroud would strand himself in a remote location for seven days – usually with no food, no water, and minimal gear – and demonstrate how to survive. On top of that, Stroud had to film the ordeal himself.

Stroud followed up the success of Survivorman with Beyond Survival, Survivorman 10 Days, Survivorman Bigfoot, and more. You can watch all of these shows for the equivalent of one coffee per month on Surivorman TV.

However, Stroud is more than just a world-class filmmaker and survivalist. He is also a talented musician whose passionate, heart-felt songs constitute true art. The raw emotion behind his single “Arctic Mistress” knocked me to the floor the first time I heard it.

In addition, Stroud has authored several books. His latest, Beyond Survivorman, sounds absolutely fascinating. It details how some of the world’s indigenous and nature-based peoples survive both physically and culturally in remote locations, and covers the most important topic of all: how to connect spiritually with the Earth.

Connecting with the Earth is also the focus of an upcoming workshop Stroud is hosting at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. From August 24-26, attendees will learn how wilderness survival skills can help them reconnect spiritually with the planet. This workshop is the primary focus of the following questions.

Q&A

In the event description for your upcoming workshop, you have stated that your mission is to help people reconnect with the Earth. How can learning practical survival skills, such as how to start a fire using a bow drill, deepen one’s connection to the planet?

It’s simple really. It’s about dirt under your fingernails. The feel of trees and plants. The feel of the ground beneath your body. It’s about truly touching the earth: for this is the way to connect to it. Thinking about it – great. Looking at it – better. Being out in it – fantastic. Touching it – perfect!

The aforementioned event description also talks about practicing, “wilderness awareness tools to develop your sixth sense.” What is this sixth sense, and how can wilderness awareness tools help one to develop it?

Actual nature is the original and most potent ‘aroma therapy’ of all. The combinations of aromas, chemicals, and energy exist in the millions and change with each new step through the wilderness. It’s not a vial with 7 different smells from the earth – it IS the earth with a billion different molecules affecting you when you are immersed within it.

All of your senses fire at the same time when you are in nature and when this happens they, working together, ignite our sixth sense: our intuition, our instinct.

Les Stroud fly fishing. Photo © Laura Bombier.

What is one key takeaway you hope people get from your upcoming workshop?

There is no true power of existence on this earth without connecting to it in a meaningful way. All of our ills, troubles, pains, and challenges are addressed by time in nature. We come out stronger, smarter, quicker-witted; feeling less pain and on the road to healing faster.

I now want to turn to your excellent series Beyond Survival, in which you spent time with several indigenous groups to learn how they survived. How did you manage to earn the trust of, and befriend, so many people from vastly different cultures as your own?

I simply would sit with the elder of a particular group, ask him to look into my eyes, my heart, and – if they felt in any way that I shouldn’t be there – I would leave. I told them I was there to learn from them, not the other way around, and that I simply wanted to share in their life and philosophies.

Many of the lessons Stroud learned while filming Beyond Survival are discussed in his new book: Beyond Survivorman. Image courtesy of Laura Bombier.

In an article you wrote for the Omega Institute in 2015, you said that the production of Beyond Survival served as a year-long vision quest for you. How did this series help you discover your current mission – that of helping people to reconnect with nature?

It gave me a fantastic grounding within my understanding of how to respect and remain connected to the earth. It gave me a very full tool kit so that I could adapt to any nature setting and still find my way to hear it speak to me, and to continue within it knowing I was welcomed and knowing I had honoured the opportunity to experience all a certain place had to offer.

Conclusion

I want to sincerely thank Les Stroud for participating in this Q&A: it has been a true honor. I am also grateful to Laura Bombier for helping to facilitate it, and for her excellent photos.

Please consider attending Stroud’s workshop from August 24-26 at the Omega Institute! While you are at it, why not order a copy of his new book? I have just purchased one of my own, and am looking forward to reading it.

I have to send one last thank you to Survivorman Les Stroud and Laura Bombier for making this Q&A possible. Photo © Laura Bombier.

31 Thoughts

  1. This is great… Means a lot for all of us, I mean for the world… We don’t know what the future will be… I always admire this kind of works and endeavour, experience, sharing, and the thoughts of the background… Thank you dear Josh, Love, nia

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow josh this is amazing.
    Les Stroud is the legit survivourman, I’m in awe at how he disciplined his body to be able to survive even in extremely tough conditions.
    “Thinking about it – great. Looking at it – better. Being out in it – fantastic. Touching it – perfect! ” I really love that statement. For me nature is pure bliss.

    ARCTIC MISTRESS isn’t just a song it actually has great meaning to it.

    Truly this is a wonderful write.🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks so much for your compliments! That’s what a like about Stroud: he’s legit. He’s not some stuntman or a drama queen like the current TV ‘survivalists,’ he actually shows people real ways to stay alive outdoors.

      And yes, Arctic Mistress is phenomenal! It’s refreshing to know that some people are still producing music that has meaning.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Josh. Thanks for this introduction to Les. “All of your senses fire at the same time when you are in nature and when this happens they, working together, ignite our sixth sense: our intuition, our instinct.” That’s a marvelous, insightful thought. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thrilled to be able to conduct this Q&A with him :)

      I hope to develop my passion for and connection to nature to Stroud’s level one day too. Obviously the best way to do that is to spend time out in nature – directly interacting with it. His book should help too, as it contains many lessons he’s learned both from indigenous peoples and from spending countless hours alone in the bush.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Another great and informative post! The interview was fascinating and refreshing. He truly seems to be a Renaissance person. I will see if I can order a copy of his book in Japan :) The Youtube link was also great. As always, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome post and interview, Josh! I used to watch Survivorman and loved it as I was very impressed with his philosophy and approach but didn´t know about the other series and his books – so thanks for that too! The photographs by Laura Bombier are stunning and the song is beyond wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I chuckle to admit that I’d never heard of Les Stroud or of the television show. It’s been 20 years since I owned a television, and it’s rare that I see television – at times in a restaurant. I enjoyed the summary – thankyouverymuch – and it looks like it’s a very-interesting show that features a very-interesting person. The music video was nice – I understand why/how it affected you.

    The workshop was surely a success – the link did not work, but I removed the final -O and it worked..

    Liked by 1 person

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