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Prineville resident teaching survival classes


When going on a winter outing be prepared and don't go alone

by: SCOTT STAATS SPECIAL TO THE CENTRAL OREGONIAN - A set of solitary showshoe tracks go through the wilderness in an area scarred by wildfire. Conditions can change quickly in the outdoors, especially in the winter months, so people should always be prepared prior to setting out on an outing.About two years ago Todd Stone came up with the idea of teaching survival skills to groups and families. That idea has now come to fruition with his new organization he calls the Central Oregon Survival Network

“COSN encompasses everything I love to do such as hiking, survival and gear, so why not start a community of like-minded folks?” said Stone.

He works fulltime at the Biak Training Center in Redmond (a.k.a. the National Guard Training Center). He’s a certified Army Basics Instructor as well as a small group’s instructor. He’s served almost 20 years in the armed forces, including the Marines and Army.

“We are sort of like a community organization, bringing people together to share knowledge,” Stone explained. “It’s just not us teaching, it’s the people who come – everybody brings something to the table.”

Their focus is on all aspects of survival, from wilderness to desert to urban situations. They also teach preparedness and self-reliance. Stone said his group is not just for the guy with a knife who wants to go out and learn survival. It is also about families. They do treasure hunts with kids, who not only have fun but also learn the basic aspects of survival.

Even though COSN was Stone’s brainchild, he’s now teamed up with James Rejzek of Terrebonne and Ron Wortman of Prineville, who will be helping teach classes, which can be anything from canning to home security and mobile security (on the road) to orienteering to basic survival skills such as fire, water and shelter. Stone has almost 60 videos on YouTube that show outdoor gear and survival skills. by: PHOTO COURTESY OF TODD STONE - Todd Stone teaches outdoor survival skills in Prineville

They had their first meeting last month to get the word out about what they do. People came from as far away as Medford and there are folks coming from Coos Bay for their next meeting, which takes place February 22. For more information about the agenda and where to meet, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. They are working on their website and hope to have it up in a week or two. There are no fees at this point in time.

Stone said he’s had many close calls while in the military but nothing has ever compared to it in the civilian world. Just one of the outdoor experiences that scared him was when he was up at Mount Bachelor cross-country skiing with his grandparents and they got caught in a white-out.

“They were already tired and we were trying to find our way back out,” he explained. “Close calls when you’re by yourself are one thing, but I knew I had to get them out, because they wouldn’t last the night.”

The best advice he gives people who head out into the winter woods, besides being prepared, is not to go alone. The group’s motto is A.S.A.P., which stands for Aware Survive Adapt Prepare. Stone has a personal SPOT device, which gives a GPS location to emergency responders. As a training officer he does a lot of night navigation plus he likes to go out by himself sometimes but always wondered if the gadget really works.

Last year he actually used it on a training operation. He hiked out two or three miles from Walton Sno-Park in about two feet of snow. When he activated the device, the “rescuers” came to his exact location. SPOT devices cost around $100 and it’s $99 a year for the service.

Central Oregon Survival Network doesn’t deal with politics, religion or conspiracy theories, said Stone. They are not about end-of-world scenarios or surviving zombie attacks but instead focus and prepare for real world emergencies.

“We are not the ultimate solution to all these problems,” Stone said. “This is just one way to do things; you can add to it, take away from it or maybe you don’t agree and want to go your own route. We are just trying to give people a good base to start with.”

He said people should at least have a 72-hour survival or emergency kit in their homes. “Most people won’t experience a disaster first hand, but many maybe affected by one. So it is a good idea to have at least the bare essentials,” said Stone.

His organization is to help people be more aware and prepared for possible disasters. He also hopes that their classes will help decrease the number of search and rescue operations each year. He is currently the president of the Crook County Search & Rescue and has been a member for over three years.

There haven’t been a lot of rescue operations in the past three years, which is good, according to Stone. He thinks it has a lot to do with better technology these days. Most of their calls are recoveries and investigations where they look for clues.

“Eighty percent of an actual survival situation is all mental,” Stone explained. “Survival can be anything from an outdoor experience to the death of a family member. To me, it’s all encompassing; it’s not just about wilderness survival. It’s about life.”