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Desert Island Adventure: By Accident or By Choice
@The Weekly English Conversation Clubs
Bethesda Library, Montgomery County , Maryland , 20814 , USA

Let us get started…
Many people love an adventure story. Do you? What would you do if an adventure happened to you? Today, you will have your own survival adventure marooned on a desert island. In addition, we will talk about other types of adventure.

One type of adventure story is the survival story. The most famous survival story may be The Odyssey (Greek: ?d?sse?a) about the Greek hero Odysseus (Ulysses) who had many adventures during his return home from the Trojan War. Another famous survival story is Robinson Crusoe, a novel by Daniel Defoe, based on the true story of a shipwrecked Scottish sailor. Robinson Crusoe inspired the recent British/Irish-created TV reality program in Sweden, Expedition: Robinson, known in the USA as Survivor.


Your survival story –shipwrecked on a desert island:
You are on a cruise sailing from Miami, Florida, USA to Isla de la Juventud in the Caribbean Sea. On the second night out at sea, there is a hurricane. The ship runs aground somewhere on an uninhabited island in the middle of the ocean. You and a few other passengers wash up on the shore, alert and unharmed. (The captain, the crew, most of the other passengers, and all the lifeboats have disappeared!) The wreck has destroyed almost everything in the ship. You are dressed only in your pajamas and it is hot!

To make matters worse, you are in the Bermuda Triangle. Your cell phone and all electronic devices do not work in this paranormal place. You cannot see any other ships or islands near you. Now, in pairs for safety, you leave the shipwreck and search for debris along the shoreline. Each one of you finds an object or objects from the ship. [Take one of the facedown pictures. Turn it over. This is what you have found.]

Discuss with your partner:
• What have you found?
• Why is it important to help you survive?
• How will you use it?
• Who should be in charge of it?
• When should you use it?
Now get together with the other passengers to see how best to pool your resources to help you all survive together.

Suggested images:

• A can of vegetable shortening/fat
• A coil of natural fiber rope
• A compass
• A framed antique linen map/chart of the area
• A utility knife
• A rubber duck children’s toy
• A shrink-wrapped package of 48 clean white cotton tablecloths
• A wooden folding deck chair
• Five (5) rain ponchos
• One (1) large metal coffee urn
• One (1) chocolate bar
• Three (3) lifejackets
• …

You will need a selection of practical & impractical pictures cut from magazines or downloaded from the Internet for each group of students. We have tables of six students so we made sure we had fewer resources than students…five ponchos, only three lifejackets…

message in a bottle

Round Robin ~ each client, in turn, asks the table one of the following questions:

What is your favorite adventure story? Is it fact or fiction? When and where does the adventure take place? On land, at sea, in the air? Have you ever visited the location where the adventure takes place?

For hundreds of years, people have put a message in a bottle. Traditionally, a letter is sealed in a glass bottle, and floated out to sea. Did you ever send a message in a bottle, leave a note in a cave, or tie a letter to a toy plane…? Where? Why? What was the message? Do you know if anyone ever received it?

Objects found at sea are called flotsam if they have been lost overboard, jetsam if they have been thrown overboard, and lagan if they lie wrecked on the seabed. What is the most interesting thing you have found on a beach, by a river, or in a stream? Where and when did you find it?

The Badlands in South Dakota and Death Valley, California, may be two of the remotest spots in the USA. What is the remotest spot you have visited? Where do people in your home country go to get away from it all?

Do you know how to survive in a wilderness? Do you know how to make a fire? Who taught you? Please tell us how to make a fire.

Some countries have organized youth movements or clubs to support young people in their physical, mental, and spiritual development. At what age do they begin in your home country? What kind of uniforms do they wear? How has this changed since you were a child?

Do you participate in outdoor activities such as backpacking or hiking, canoeing, mountaineering, rafting, rock climbing, or sailing, nowadays? Where do you go and what do you do? Has it ever been an adventure?

Extreme sport is a new term for activities involving speed, height, high level of physical exertion, highly specialized gear, or spectacular stunts. What is the fastest, highest, or farthest you have ever run, jumped, or swum? Why did you do that? What is your personal best record in any of these activities?

We talked earlier about what you would do if you were marooned on a desert island. Have you ever been lost in the woods? What happened? How did you survive?

If you go camping or hiking, the US National Park Service (NPS) says to let other people know where you are going and when you expect to return. In addition, the NPS recommends carrying a flashlight, rainwear, water, food, a watch, pen & paper, a whistle, a first-aid kit, a compass, matches, a knife, and a map. Which of these items do you have with you today? Why?

Lastly, a traditional British radio show, Desert Island Discs, asks famous people to choose what they would take with them if they knew they were going to be stranded on a desert island. The celebrity has already been given as standard issue the Complete Works of William Shakespeare PLUS their choice of religious text. However, the celebrity now has a travel allowance of eight (8) pieces of music, one more book, and a luxury. What would be your choices of music, extra book, and luxury?

Visit for more English Learner information as well as the U.S. Park Service:
Montgomery County Emergency Preparedness:
Desert Island Discs
Local Hikes

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