By Nicole Schmidt
This is it – his only shot at survival.
Twenty-nine-year-old Patrick Boyd knows that if he isn’t fast enough, smart enough, or if he makes any mistakes, he’ll become one of them. The troops assemble in a patch of green space. Wilderness and a large body of water surround them. They put their hands in for one final hurrah before the bell sounds. A blood-curdling zombie shriek echoes through the air. Boyd is overcome with adrenaline – he knows that if he uses everything he’s learned over the past two days, he can escape.
“It felt real. It definitely got my heart and my adrenaline pumping,” said Boyd, a former teacher.
“I didn’t think that I’d be that affected by it, but I was so wrapped up in the whole experience.” Welcome to Zombie Survival Camp, the three-day training program in Orillia that helps both zombie enthusiasts and wilderness junkies alike prepare for the zombie apocalypse.
Campers spend time learning basic survival skills and zombie fighting tactics like archery, zomjitsu (hand-to-hand combat) and field craft. All of these acquired skills are then put to the test on the last day of the camp during a simulated zombie outbreak.
Zombie fans Eric Somerville and Peter Lane started up the camp about a year-and-a-half ago. The two met in university and became business partners, opening up a pool cleaning business together.
Zombie camp was their next entrepreneurial endeavor.
Since, the camp has grown in popularity and attracts a variety of different people ranging in ages and professions.
Deidter Stadnyk, a fourth-year Ryerson film student, is one of the zombie camp instructors. During his third year at Ryerson, he was working on a short documentary about zombie apocalypse culture.
While researching, he came across Zombie Survival Camp. He contacted the organizers and they agreed to run a “mock camp” for filming purposes.
“I got involved and became an instructor from there because it was awesome and I thought I could bring something to the table,” Stadnyk said.
Prior to becoming a zombie camp instructor, Stadnyk spent five years serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. He has taken the skills he acquired while in the army and used them to help campers learn field craft and basic soldiering.
“Everything we teach are the real skills that you can use,” Stadnyk said. “Everything just has a zombie spin on it. It’s more fun that way.” Some campers are completely serious about preparing for a zombie apocalypse, while others are just looking to get out of the house for the weekend. Regardless, the camp is meant to be a fun way for people to share their love for zombie culture and learn new skills.
Although Stadnyk thinks that the probability of a real zombie apocalypse happening is slim, he still likes to imagine what it would be like. While looking back on the past year, he said that being involved with the camp has been nothing but a positive experience.
“There are only five people in the history of the world that are able to say, ‘we created Canada’s first zombie camp.’ No one else will ever get that claim,” said Stadnyk.
“I’ve never been more personally fulfilled.” As for Boyd, he said that the camp blew his expectations.
“When I went there, I really didn’t know what to expect, but when we got there, it blew my mind in every way shape and form,” said Boyd.