Bear Grylls Survival Academy coming to Frost Valley


By Brian Sweeney
There will be a new type of bear in the Catskills when a U.S. Bear Grylls Survival Academy is launched next April at Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville.

Bear Grylls has catapulted to fame with a pair of hit television series, “Man vs. Wild” and “Get Out Alive.” He has developed the Bear Grylls Survival Academy as a means of sharing survival and self-rescue skills with outdoor enthusiasts.

Bear has designed the academy for participation by adults and children ages 10-17 years old. His team of highly trained experts will oversee the training courses that will begin at Frost Valley next spring. A six-hour introductory session was held at there on November 9.

“It is the perfect opportunity to bring family members together to share a truly memorable and fun experience,” Bear explains. “This course is designed to inspire fathers and sons, mothers and daughters to get out in to the back country and have a great adventure BG style.”

The 24-hour Family Survival Course, of which a shortened version was held at Frost Valley on November 9, includes a combination of survival skills and adventure tasks designed to put the participants to the test. Course terrain included woodland, rivers, gorges and a challenging mountainous environment.

Lots to learn
Among the techniques taught in the full course are: how to build and light a fire, how to navigate by day and night with no map or compass, survival knife skills, making and setting traps, foraging for natural wild food, river crossings, rope skills and dynamic self-rescue techniques.
Participants learn to build a shelter and prepare their meals with whatever resources are available. The course focuses on dynamic action as participants utilize the skills they learn in order to get rescued. However, the “rescue” does not involve being saved by others. Academey members spend much of their time running, jumping, climbing, swimming, rappelling and scrambling their way back to their home base.

For adults & families
When the Bear Grylls Survival Academy is officially introduced at Frost Valley next spring, both adult and family courses will be offered on an ongoing basis.
The adult-only training will be a five-day course and the family-friendly version will last 24 hours.
The courses will be limited to 10-12 participants per session. The academy also develops team-building programs for businesses.
Frost Valley YMCA was selected as an academy location because the Catskill Mountain setting provides a combination of factors.
The original Bear Grylls Survival Academies are situated throughout the United Kingdom. The Frost Valley academy opening next spring will join U.S. locations in Texas and California.
Bear said that he started these academies with the intention of “getting families active and out into nature again, to get kids to enjoy the world without being stuck in front of a TV or computer screen.”
Lead instructor Scott Heffield, who works closely with Bear, says: “The Catskills provide the perfect backdrop for Bear Grylls Survival Academy course to launch. Topography, rivers, lakes, harsh weather conditions and wildlife are all important factors to consider and the Catskills is an environment that simulates real life Bear Grylls survival situations.”
Example itineraries and booking inquiries should be directed to 877 742- 2925 in the USA, online at or by e-mail:
As part of the expansion, the Bear Grylls team is looking for qualified instructors to help staff the Frost Valley training academy. Anyone interested in learning more about joining the team is invited to contact Mr. Heffield via e-mail at:

About Bear Grylls
Bear’s passion for the outdoors was forged during his childhood in the UK on the Isle of Wight where his father taught him to climb and sail.
Trained from a young age in martial arts, Bear went on to spend three years as a soldier and combat survival instructor in the British Special Forces, serving with 21 SAS. It was here that he perfected many of the skills that his fans all over the world enjoy watching him pit against Mother Nature.