Jaak Panksepp

Adventures in Outdoor Cooking: Do it for Your Taste Buds

By Stephen Mullaney January 26, 2022

Wilderness Cooking

The instructor-in-training for the day reaches into her pack, shakes her head and swears softly.

“We left a bottle of fuel at basecamp. Who do we call for resupply?”

Liz, NCOAE’s course director walks over to the instructor and looks into the canvas bag. Then she shrugs her shoulders and says, “There’s no one to call. Looks like we’ve only got fuel for three out of eight nights.”

Scanning the forest, Liz points to a pile of rocks on the ground where previous groups have built fires and says, “Collect wood, build a fire, cook dinner.”

A few days earlier, this same group was packing for an Instructor Training Course. Participants are educators who have been in the outdoor education and adventure industry for a few years and have a firm grasp on technical skills. We use the course to familiarize these future instructors with our curriculum, educational practices and other components that are unique to NCOAE.

So, when an Instructor Course group forgets to pack an important piece of gear — in this case fuel — we like to see how problem solving, creativity and ingenuity unfold to keep an expedition moving forward.

Now, with a fire started and a meal selected for the evening, it’s time to start cooking. These NCOAE instructors in training begin by building a potholder out of rocks, stirring up the coals, and blending ingredients together for the meal.

There’s little confusion, no drama, and the meal comes together because these educators have been practicing outdoor skills at home in their backyards as well as in outdoor settings like the one mentioned here.

Practice makes perfect

The way these participants upped their backcountry skills and calmly slapped together a great evening meal was to practice their “seeking game.”

It was back in the late 1990s when a neurologist named Jaak Panksepp coined the term “seeking system” in regard to (more…)

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