Survival training in India is in its infancy as far as the general population is concerned and there are a lot of questions people have regarding the training and the Courses. Here you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. Do go through all the questions, under all the heads, since many of the answers overlap across different types of Courses. If you have any further questions that are not answered here, do write to us and we will try and answer them for you.

General FAQs about Courses

What kind of people are the Courses suited for?

For one thing, the Courses are not for everyone. Having said that, it is for everyone. You need to be the adventurous sort, the explorative kind, willing to try out new things. Inquisitive, curious and willing to walk off the beaten path. You probably do not shudder at the thought of being far away from the familiarity of comfort zones. And of course, you need to like and enjoy the wilderness. OTASS is not for people who are ‘followers’, it is for the ‘doers’. It comes with its inherent risks and you need to be prepared for them and accept them. The Courses are tough – physically and psychologically. They may not be for everyone, but for those who do attend, completing a Course is a magical and life-altering experience, certainly one where they feel they can meet life’s challenges better.

Who can attend the Courses?

You need to be 18 years old (younger people need to get their parents or guardians to sign an Indemnity Form), in reasonably fit physical shape, and most importantly, with the right attitude. The terrain and the weather can and will be unpredictable. But, the one thing that is certainly unpredictable is YOU. Only you know whether a Course is for you or not. Unknown environment, unknown and stressful situations, with a bunch of unknown people, surrounded by unknown circumstances, that is what the Course promises. If you can deal with it and become part of the team, join in!

What about gender?

The wilderness is entirely blind to gender. It does not distinguish between males and females. And neither do we. Consequently, all our Courses are mixed-gender courses. This provides an opportunity to members of both sexes to go beyond physical differences and work towards a common goal – survival and self-reliance.

Is previous wilderness experience necessary?

Well, yes and no. Some previous camping experience is preferred though not mandatory. You will be faced with some sleep, water and food deprivation.

I am planning a hike through the Amazon jungles. Should I attend a Course?

Sure if you want to, but we doubt if we will be able to tell you anything that you are not aware of already. The training modules cater more to the soft adventurer and not so much the serious adventurer like you. Not yet, at least. If you are planning a serious adventure like trekking through the Amazon jungles, or sailing the Atlantic or climbing Mt Everest, a OTA Survival School camp is probably not for you, unless you use it as a refresher course. If you need to learn basic skills, maybe a serious adventure like the one you mention is premature for you.

How tough are these Courses?

Neither you and nor we can predict how you will react faced with a stressful situation. As long as you come in with an open mind, ready to challenge yourself, we can work together and complete a successful Course. Your health and safety are as much our concern as it is yours. However, there are realities in the wilderness.

What about health and safety issues?

The Courses are out in the field, in terrain that is unforgiving. Your level of fitness, ability to listen to and follow instructions, your mental attitude to your situation during the camp, your ability to adapt, all correlate to provide for a healthy and safe Course. Twisted ankles, rock falls, landslides, flash floods, downpours, all lead to changes in the format of the Course, which in turn lead to health and safety considerations. And these are the exigencies that we prepare you for and you need to accept and expect. There are things that happen that are beyond our control. In fact, we scout for Course locations where things are unpredictable, to be able to provide a more realistic survival situation.

What about controlling the risks?

You will get a survival experience and the attempt is to minimise your exposure to unwanted risks or injuries. It is impossible to negate the risks entirely in a wilderness scenario, however simulated. Bodily discomfort is a part of the training curriculum and thirst, hunger and fatigue can lead to bodily harm. We do not offer you an experience free from risk, or indeed from injury. The wilderness is beyond our control. Slipping, falling, water immersion, exhaustion, unpredictable changes in temperature, hypothermia, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, sunburn, dehydration, insect bites, etc are all par for the course. Nausea, light-headedness, aches, pains, hunger, cramps, thirst, etc are risks that are part of the curriculum. Sharp knives are a part of your kit and you may not be used to handling them. Cutting yourself or others around you is a possibility. Using an axe or a machete comes with its own dangers. Sometimes we will intentionally put you in a risky situation, where you are wet, cold and in windy conditions, a recipe for hypothermia. Coping with risk is what the Courses are all about. If you accept it, risks and all, you will love the experience. The risks mentioned above are to make you aware, not to scare you. At the end of the Course, it might actually end up feeling like it was a walk in the park. You need to be aware of and accept the risks that come with attending a Course. If you have a problem with the unpredictability of situations or the inherent risks involved, we suggest you head off somewhere else and not attend a Course.

What if I get injured?

According to us, great, since this provides a practical experience to learn First Aid. The injuries that are expected are minor – blisters, cuts, scrapes and bruises. Sometimes insect stings. Sprains are a possibility and a bad sprain means that you might not be able to walk and need to be evacuated. However, that is the limit of medical intervention that is possible or available during the duration of any Course.

The Hawks Course

Who is the Hawks Course suited for?

The Hawks Course is ideally suited for students between Classes VI and XII. The groups in each Course should ideally comprise students from: (1) Classes VI to VIII, (2) Classes IX and X, and (3) Classes IX to XII.

How many participants can there be per Course?

The ideal number of participants per Course is 50.

Where is the Course conducted?

The Course is conducted within School premises, in the playing field.

Can there be mixed groups of participants comprising girls and boys?

Of course. However, adequate care is taken to ensure there is no unnecessary interaction between the two genders.

What about food and water?

Adequate clean drinking water and meals and snacks during the duration of the Course is to be provided by the School.

What all does the School need to provide?

The School needs to provide the playing field to conduct the Course, adequate drinking water, meals and snacks, bathroom facilities, two Assistants and a few essential consumables that will be used during the Course. Anything else will be conveyed at the time of booking.

Where do the participants sleep?

We provide tents to sleep in. It is not the most comfortable sleeping arrangement, but after all, this is a Course on survival and self reliance

The Falcons Course

How is it different from the Hawks Course?

The Hawks Course runs for two days and is focussed on students. The Falcons Course is similar to the Hawks Course, being an introductory one, but it runs for three days instead of two and is conducted in the outdoors.

Who can and should attend the Falcons Course?

It is an introductory Course and everyone who is concerned about his or her own safety and the safety of loved ones should attend this Course. You need to be 18 years old (younger people need to get their parents or guardians to sign a Consent Form), in reasonably fit physical shape, and most importantly, with the right attitude.

What should I carry to the Course?

The Course will teach you what to do before you head out to the wilderness, what you should carry and how to use the items that you carry. A suggested list of items that you need to have with you will be intimated at the time of booking.

What about food and water?

If you are expecting to be catered to, we suggest you stay away. This is a survival school and the credo is to eat to keep alive. Calories is what counts here, not taste. Having said that, we do not expect you to eat raw maggots or larvae or skewer scorpions. There might be (the operative word is 'might') some very basic survival food offered during the course. These will not be nutritional nor tasty nor filling, just enough to ensure that your body does not go into shock, and also to prepare your body for food deprivation. Water is never provided except for the one bottle that you carry at the start of the Course. For the remaining duration you find water, purify it and drink it. If you do not find water, you find ways to conserve body fluids … or dehydrate. The Group Shepherd will carry emergency water and s/he will only give it to you if there is serious possibility of bodily harm. With lack of food and water, hiking and trekking, sleep deprivation, frustration, expect to get back home lighter than when you arrived for the Course.

Where do we sleep?

There are no elegant hotel rooms with room service available. There are no fancy tents with attached baths. There is however, what you carry and what you can find and what you can rig up. Shelter is an essential wilderness survival tool and you will learn how to make shelter for the night. But, being introductory by design, during the Falcons Course there might be tents provided for you to sleep in.

What about bathrooms?

Are you serious? But since you ask, no, there are no bathroom facilities with running water and hot tubs. There are no mirrors and no showers. The bathroom is the jungle, the faucet is your water bottle or a nearby stream. And this goes for the participants of the fairer sex too. The first couple of times is difficult, but as you get into the thick of things, barriers will break down and the pattern will set by itself.

The Eagles Course

What is the duration of the Course?

The Course runs for 5 days.

Where is it conducted?

It is conducted in an outdoor location under simulated survival situations.

How tough is the Course?

For the uninitiated, a survival training Course sounds like fun, a walk in the park, something ‘dangerous’ that is worth a shot. If you are one of those, we suggest you find something else to do because a OTA Survival School Course is anything but a walk in the park. Do not spoil your vacation by getting into something that you thought would have been a lot easier. All OTASS Courses are tough, and not just physical requiring mental toughness. Come prepared to be shoved rudely out of your comfort zone, to get a new perspective on life. To reach places your mind and body never knew they would go to.

So no fun at all?

Well, what is your idea of fun? Fun for some could be sleeping under the stars, watching out for a slithering snake looking for a bit of warmth inside your sleeping bag. Or the excitement of a hunt. Or slurping down a soup that tastes like puke gone bad. For others fun could have a whole different meaning. Fun is a concept you define for yourself. However, after we have set up camp for the night, the team gets together for some bonding around the campfire. Telling stories, singing songs, playing music, pulling each other’s legs, whatever.

How much physical activity should I expect?

A fair bit. A hike through a shaded forest may not sound like much, but when you are without water and meagre food, the exhaustion can get to you real quick. And if you have to gather shelter material for the night, walk to the nearest water hole to bring in water and then purify it to make it potable, walk around camp to figure out if the traps have caught any animal, cook your food, and then by the time you hunker down for the night, the effect of the exhaustion will really hit you. The Falcons Course gets over almost before it becomes really difficult, but the Eagles Course can be quite demanding. More so because of the psychological demands made. Be prepared to lose a few kilos.

Does weather affect the Course?

Well, weather is neither good nor bad, it is the way it is. In summers it is hot, in winters it is cold, in monsoons it is wet. As you go up in altitude, it can turn from a stifling 40 degrees to a chilling below freezing. Many times it can be extremely unpredictable. So take the weather as it comes and learn to survive, through whatever it throws at you. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. But yes, weather does affect the Course if it abruptly changes. A sudden downpour might mean we learn about learning to light a fire with wet wood, something that might have been unforeseen because the predictions were for clear weather.

What about food and water?

You might have to hunt, trap, kill, clean. cook and eat your own food. These might range from fish to birds to rabbits to rodents to snakes, whatever gets caught in the traps or whatever you might be able to hunt down.

The Advanced Course

What is the duration of the Course?

The Advanced Course runs for 30 days.

Where is it conducted?

It is conducted in an outdoor location under simulated survival situations.

Why 30 days if one can get rescued in an average of 72 hours?

It takes time to learn all the various trick and tips of survival. One learns different ways to light a fire or make a shelter. In an actual survival situation you have access to this knowledge but will not need to use all of them, just one or two might be sufficient. The learning takes time to be internalised and practised, hence the duration of the Course is 30 days.

What are the facilities provided during the Course?

None. Being conducted in a simulated survival situation, participants have to per force live off the land. It is a physical and psychological drain on the system and you nee to be prepared to face the challenges.

The Succumb or Survive Course

What is the duration of the Course?

The Course lasts for a full day, about six to eight hours.

Where is it conducted?

It is conducted in the Conference Room or Auditorium, in a classroom setting.

How many participants are required for each batch?

50 participants is the ideal number per batch.

With no exposure to the wilderness, how is the Course conducted?

The focus of the Course is on urban emergencies. The basic principles of survival remain largely the same between urban emergencies and the wilderness with minor tweaking because of the changed environment, circumstances and terrain. The Course relies on lectures, demonstrations, photographs and videos. There is also a lot of interactivity built in to the Course.

Can the participants attend a Falcons or Eagles Course?

Sure and we recommend it for a more well-rounded and more hands-on learnings.

Will participants learn how to deal with an earthquake?

Well, the purpose of the Course is to train you on survival skills. This skill comes into its own when you have managed to escape the brunt of the disaster and now have to fend for yourself. It is time from the start of a survival situation that one has survived and the time when you are rescued or reach safety.

Can a wilderness survival Course be conducted?

Yes, it can, except that the terrain will be absent in a Conference Room setting. Some modules of the Course will depend heavily on photographs and videos.

The Specialised in-depth Courses

What the different Courses currently available?

Currently there are a bunch of in-depth Courses available. Check the relevant page under the "Courses" tab for more details.

What is the duration of each Course?

Each Course lasts a day, about six to eight hours.

Is it physically taxing?

Not so much. However, in the outdoor Courses you will be in an outdoor setting, exposed to the weather. Food and beverages are provided so there is no deprivation.

Where are these Courses conducted?

Currently these Courses are conducted only in Delhi. However, if there are sufficient number of participants, we can look at conducting it in any city in India.