Rob Steiner
MesaCC Legend

One class at Mesa Community College (MCC) Outdoor Adventure Skills class helps students gain outdoor survival skills and develops personal inner growth. Outdoor Adventure Skills is taught by Greg Guthrie with co-instructors Lori Guthrie and Sal Cucuzzo. They teach students to use the natural resources around them to build fires, make shelters, and use medicinal plants as healing remedies while in the wilderness.

“There’s a big philosophical component.” It’s very Native American themed. That is because the people that trained us,” Guthrie said. “We were all trained by the Navajo, Totonac Indians. That’s our approach to the wilderness.” “Regardless of where they are at in terms of physical conditioning or emotional stuff or intellectual development,” Guthrie explained, “experience tends to customize itself to each person which is really an interesting thing.”

Jayme Redford, an MCC student who is taking the class for the third time, refers to these experiences as hard skills and soft skills. “One is called hard skills, physical stuff we learn out there. The other is soft skills which is more personal,” Redford said “A lot of people come for the hard skills and see the soft skills, another side of it, and don’t want anything to do with it, but when you learn it as-a-whole, it means more,” Redford said.

Instructor Sal Cucuzzo was a previous student who took the course nine years ago. He said the course is a journey for students to learn hands-on-survival skills while connecting with their surroundings. “We try to deepen their experience as much as possible. It is like a cumulative skill set, it enhances their ability to learn more.” The course has many repeat students, who love the outdoors and aren’t afraid to branch out of their comfort zone to learn new skills sets.

“We look forward to seeing who is coming back and what skills they want to learn. We try to customize it for them. This enhances their ability to pick up new skills or evolve new skills,” Cucuzzo said “I really want to take it again and focus on the soft skills. With this being my third time, I am just trying to focus on both at the same time and see how they play with each other,” Redford said. Towards the end of the semester, the students will be able to put these skills, both hard and soft, into practice on a three-day survival trip.

On this trip they bring minimal gear and go to a remote location. It is there that they learn to live in their natural surroundings. This a three-credit course with a one-credit lab and according to the instructors, can be used towards majoring in recreation. stuff or intellectual development, experience tends to customize itself to each person which is really an interesting thing,” said Guthrie. Student Jayme Redford, who is taking the class for the third time, refers to these experiences as hard skills and soft skills.

“One is called hard skills, physical stuff we learn out there [outside in nature]. The other is soft skills which are more personal,” she continued. “A lot of people come for the hard skills and [they] see the soft skills, [the] another side of it, and don’t want anything to do with it, but when you learn it as a whole it means more,” Redford said.  Sal Cucuzzo, a previous student of the course and now co-instructor, said, “This is their journey if you will.  We have a curriculum that we follow, however, we call it their walking, their journey, we try to make it as customized as possible.” he continued.

“We try to deepen their experience as much as possible. It is like a cumulative skill set, it enhances their ability to learn more.” This is a course that has many repeat students, who have a love of the outdoors and aren’t afraid to branch out of their comfort zone to learn new skills sets.  This was apparent when more than half of the current class stated that they had taken the course two, or three times.  “We look forward to seeing who is coming back and what skills they want to learn. We try to customize it for them. This enhances their ability to pick up new skills or evolve new skills,” said Cucuzzo.

“I really want to take it again and focus on the soft skills. With this being my third time, I am just trying to focus on both at the same time and see how they play with each other,” Redford said. Tealsa Beair, a two-time student of the course, talks about what the course means to her, “I really appreciate Lori, Greg and Sal and their approach to teaching. I think it’s really different and unique. It’s more [than] about developing the survivalist skills…. how to be a human being. How to walk as we, not just the individualistic society.”

Towards the end of the semester, the students will be able to put these skills, both hard and soft, into practice on a three-day survival trip.  On this trip they bring minimal gear and go to the remote location.
It is there that they learn to live in their natural surroundings.  This a three-credit course with a one-credit lab and according to the instructors, can be used towards majoring in recreation.

Mesa Legend Staff

Mesa Legend Staff

These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.
Mesa Legend Staff

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