At the height of the realization that you are lost in the wild, the hardest thing to do is to sit still. Hearts are racing, adrenaline is pumping, and with the urge to self preserve in the forefront of one’s mind, the last thing anyone wants to do in most cases is to sit still. Yet often times, it can be the best possible thing you can do.
S.T.O.P. stands for Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan.
Sit: Slow down, catch your breath, and take a moment to clear your head and address the situation with a poised outlook. Decisions made frantically and out of fear will always yield negative results. A calm, clear mind will allow you to make the rational decisions you will need to stay alive, and to conserve much needed energy for important tasks, rather than wasting it on panic.
Think: Where are you? How long have you been lost? Are you well supplied, or at a lack? Do you have water and shelter? How much time is left in the day? Are you able to get yourself out, or is it better to prepare to spend the night to avoid getting more lost? These are just some of the questions you should answer as you begin to assess your situation.
Observe: What is around me that might help me solve these problems? Do I have resources for shelter, water, or fire? Am I in a safe place, or in a danger zone? Once you have assessed your situation, take in your surroundings for possible ways to solve or minimize problems and optimize strengths and advantages.
Plan: Once you have gathered all your information, formulate a plan. Don’t be overwhelmed by the grandeur of your situation. Focus instead on small, step by step tasks towards the ultimate goal of staying alive.