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Health and Safety

When you’re known for being “the toughest survival school in the country,” people sometimes wonder what that means. Actually, people usually read that and then go on to something else, something that doesn’t sound as intimidating. After all, this is your vacation time, right?

Truth is, some BOSS courses are tough, and that’s something that we are proud to offer to you. Our Field courses in particular (and that’s what the quote above is referring to) have been designed over many years to do one thing: push you out of your comfort zone and into a new perspective on life. So, if you are considering taking a Field course with us, come prepared for the challenge, and understand that we’re on your side, trying to teach you new skills, break through old barriers, and reach someplace you’ve probably never been before – literally and metaphorically.

Of course, there’s more to BOSS than just Field courses, and there’s more to our school than just the “tough” side. On many of our other courses, classes are woven into days of learning and discovery without any real hardships or challenges (other than keeping up with the pace of instruction). So don’t let some parts of our reputation discourage you from exploring , and do make sure that the course you select is appropriate for what you want to accomplish.

Health on the Trail

On most BOSS courses, a moderate level of activity will be required: hiking, gathering, setting up camp, etc. We’re an active bunch of people, and we want our students to be ready to do stuff with us. On our Field courses, however, there is a correlation between the level of fitness of a group or person, and the successful completion of all the course phases. If everyone arrives in good shape, the group can go farther, hike faster, see more. If people arrive with the expectation of getting in shape while on the trip, things can slow down a little. And more importantly, your health may be at risk if you shock your system with a sudden immersion into a physically rigorous program.

On Field courses, therefore, all students are required to get a physical examination from a medical doctor, and we strongly encourage you to begin some sort of training program (running, jogging, aerobics, etc.) in advance of your course. For more information, please visit the Fitness and Training page on our site.

On Skills and Training courses, this is less of an issue, but you’ll likely benefit from being in better health. If you have concerns about health, safety, or anything else for your course, please contact us. Over the years, we’ve heard plenty of questions, so please do not hesitate to ask.  You can also read more about some of the specific risks you might encounter.

Safety on the Trail

Most people today, when selecting a vacation trip or some way to spend their precious time and money, just want to be healthy and safe before, during and after their trip. Many come to BOSS with the same expectations, which is fine. We want you to be healthy and safe during and after your course, too. Nothing makes us happier than a course that closes with a group of happy, healthy and perhaps slightly dirty students. For those who’ve been there, you know that it’s priceless when all goes well. And this happens most of the time at BOSS. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be in business for 40+ years.

However, there are always alternatives. A rock falls, a student trips, a van breaks down, a sandstone shelf collapses, and the whole course has changed in just seconds. It happens, and we’re there to help everyone adjust to the new situation. While we seek safety at BOSS, we are also very honest that many of the variables that go into a course are beyond our control, and we want you to acknowledge that before joining us. Is it safer to sit on a beach somewhere else and enjoy fruity iced drinks? Perhaps, but the greater the risk, the greater the rewards, and BOSS offers you some incredible opportunities for challenge and adventure. So be excited to come join us on the trail – just do so knowingly, accepting the risks inherent to our program and wilderness travel.

Medical Information

It is your responsibility to help us assess your medical health and your ability to successfully complete a course. Therefore, you must undergo a medical examination and receive approval from your physician in order to take a BOSS course. Any and all medications that you plan to be taking on a course must be stated clearly on your course paperwork and any issues, allergies or concerns you may have should be noted and discussed with us prior to your arrival.

It seems that many people these days are on some form of medication. Normally, this may not be much cause for concern. However, it is possible that your reaction to a medication could change as your diet or level of exertion changes. You may react differently when in the hot, summer sun… or at altitude. Add to this the fact that BOSS courses often take place in extremely remote locations where professional medical assistance may be hours or days away and you can understand why we ask for your full disclosure when it comes to what medications you might be taking. Whether it’s Prozac, lithium, aspirin, birth control pills, or just vitamins, we want to know about it and ask that you please list all medications and supplements on your Health History Form during the application process. This helps us better evaluate your health and understand what effect a course might have on your physiology or body chemistry. The more we know about you, the better we can do our jobs to help you have an enjoyable course.

Meds on Field Courses

BOSS requires all students who are on medications or supplements to get a physician’s letter explaining the medication, its purposes, and possible side effects. Some medications require that they be taken with a full stomach and plenty of water and both students and physicians must realize that this may not be possible every day on certain courses. Therefore, students must have clear, written permission from their MD to take these medications on an empty stomach with little or no water. If you are unable to take a necessary medication on an empty stomach, it may preclude you from taking a Field or Explorer course.

Meds on Skills Courses

Because students on a Skills course eat regularly and are in a relatively non-strenuous environment, we do allow more students on medications on Skills courses. Please be sure, however, to provide all relevant information to us so that we can be aware of possible side-effects and complications. This includes allergies to foods and bees, ants, wasps, etc.

Meds on Other Courses

All Training and Custom course students will need to complete a Health History Form and a Medical Examination Form (signed by an MD) prior to their acceptance in the course. Because the degree of strenuous activity varies on these courses, the specific details concerning medication use in the field will be discussed during the enrollment process. As always, if you are taking a course at BOSS and will be taking medications, please let us know in advance so that we can be fully informed.

If you have questions or concerns about medications or how they may affect your time with us, please contact us.