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Seb Anthony

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Desert Survival Exercise


I know this exercise has been the subject of questions on this site before so I hope somebody will be able to help me.

Although I have a hard copy of the material for this exercise I can find no mention of original author or source. Trawling the internet makes me think it is already in the public domain as lots of sites include it freely. However, I want to demonstrate due diligence in trying to find the source and so seek permission to avoid any copyright issues. If anyone knows the origins of this I would be very grateful.

Many thanks.

Jennifer James

7 Responses

  1. Possible sources
    I first came across Desert Survival in connection with Harvard Business School (in the late 70’s). However, I seem to remember that the original source was the US military. This is substantiated by the other survival games, namely Subarctic (Canada) and NASA Moon survival games. Hope this helps. May be completely wrong. Be assured it is de facto in the public domain.

  2. Arian Associates Ltd
    I confirm Bill’s comments – this exercise seems to have been around for ever and is well and truly in the public domain.

  3. Desert survival response
    I agree with previous comment but would add that I believe it was first used in the UK, potentially under licence, by British Junior Chamber

  4. Training Games free to use.
    All previous comments are true, it is actually a spin off from the lost at sea, moon games, artic survival etc, I used it while an Army instructor in the early seventies (in the British Army) as part of the leadership development for NCO and young officers.

    It was then open for everybody to use or adapt for their own use, I would say good on you for your diligence and wanting to do the right thing, but use it in the knowledge that it is an effective training tool and good luck


  5. Desert Survival – an answer.
    Previous comments indicate that Desert Survival has been around for a long time and that its origin was probably American Army Airforce.
    My remaining copy gives the information on the “Expert” as being:-
    “Alonzo W Pond MA. He was the former Chief of the Desert Branch of the Arctic, Desert, Tropic Information Centre of the Air Force University at Maxwell Air Force Base.”
    My information goes on to say that “Mr Pond has written several books among which are ‘Survival’ claimed to be an excellent reference on the subject, and ‘Peoples of the Desert’. The latter was written after the author spent years living with people of every desert in the world except the Australian.
    During World War II Mr Pond spent much of his time working with the Allied Forces in the Sahara on desert survival problems. While there and as Chief of the Desert Branch he encountered the countless survival cases which serve as a basis of the rationale for the rankings given in the exercise.”
    Hope this goes some way to easing your conscience.

  6. Copyright of Desert Survival Situation

    The real scoop on Desert Survival Situation(TM) …this exercise is copyrighted by Human Synergistics(R) International (HS), a publisher of high quality simulations and diagnostics used by HR, OD and Training professionals worldwide. The exercise was developed over 40 years ago by J. Clayton Lafferty, founder of HS, in conjunction with Alonzo Pond who was retained by HS as the subject matter expert. Human Synergistics holds numerous registered copyrights in the Desert Survival Situation, and exercises full rights of ownership.

    This material is protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties.  That means that reproduction of the exercise in any form, including but not limited to photocopies, electronic copies, hand-written copies and web postings, is a violation of copyright law.

    Human Synergistics offers a wide range of simulations, diagnostic surveys, and support materials for training and organizational development.  For more information please contact

    If you have an unauthorized version of the Desert Survival Situation or any other HS product, we invite you to do the right thing – throw it away, spread the word and contact HS to purchase these materials. “While we’re not vengeful, we are provokable(R)”.

    Silvie van Etten

    Human Synergistics


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