From PSU Software Engineering Orientation (the activity is not important, learning to work in groups using the tools supplied by PSU is important):

You and your companions have just survived the crash of a small plane. Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed in the crash. It is mid-January, and you are in Northern Canada. The daily temperature is 25 below zero, and the night time temperature is 40 below zero. There is snow on the ground, and the countryside is wooded with with several creeks criss-crossing the area. The nearest town is 20 miles away. You are all dressed in city clothes appropriate for a business meeting. Your group of survivors managed to salvage the following items:

  • A ball of steel wool
  • A small ax
  • A loaded .45-caliber pistol
  • Can of Crisco shortening
  • Newspapers (one per person)
  • Cigarette lighter (without fluid)
  • Extra shirt and pants for each survivor
  • 20 x 20 ft. piece of heavy-duty canvas
  • A sectional air map made of plastic
  • One quart of 100-proof whiskey
  • A compass
  • Family-size chocolate bars (one per person)


My extra-serious response:

Use the axe to collect kindling and larger pieces of wood.  Use some of the whiskey and cigarette lighter to light the newspaper and steel wool, and then the kindling and larger pieces of wood, and from there a forest or tundra fire.  The fire will attract media and rescue workers.

In an area away from the forest fire, strip out of clothes and use those plus the extra change of clothes to create HELP and SOS messages that would be visible from the air.  Everyone cuddles under the canvas in a non-wooded area – should be warm with the body heat and fire.

Use the rest of the whiskey to have a good ole time while waiting for the rescue team.  If things get too boring, the Crisco and compass should make for an interesting “spin the compass” game.   Save the chocolate in case the rescuers have marshmallows and gram crackers.

The gun would only be needed if the whiskey runs low.  The map is pointless.

About R. Garrett Wilson

I am a member of the Stanislaus World Builders writing group and have participated in the FSFW writing group. I have written one drama that was based on the book of Mark and performed at my church in 2007. My story, Journeyer, is published in Analog Magazine and a novelette, The Bakrra Encounter, in the FSFW 2010 anthology, I Dreamed a Crooked Dream. I also took part in the community novel project, Stanislaus Reads and Writes, and have a chapter in their novel, Ashes in a Teardrop. Beyond writing, I enjoy road trips, photography, woodworking, watching tennis and cycling, and reading.
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