Cliff Jacobson felt concerned for years about a high percentage of grey-haired individuals. He didn’t mind that they actively read his outdoor how-to books and adventured outside.

He minded that the youngsters didn’t.

Instead, kids spend about 6-9 hours each day entrenched in media. This lack of outdoor activity motivated the nonfiction author to write a fiction book for kids. His goal? To encourage younger individuals to head into nature geared with essential knowledge and abilities. 

Race to SurvivalNow, months after this initial project began, Scouts and others can download his book ‘Race to Survival’ for free.

Completing the book

Four months of writing was a lot longer than Jacobson anticipated. 

“That was very difficult writing for me,” said Jacobson. 

Despite years of professional writing experience, fiction was new to him. Luckily though, he did have some background experience with young adults to help him understand his audience.

 As a former middle schoolteacher, he knew what youth liked. He also understood their reading capabilities. Additionally, he realized he was venturing into uncharted territory, even though his students read plenty of adventure stories. 

“They were all wonderful books,” said Jacobson. “[But], you basically didn’t learn much.”

He explains that those books entertained, but his goal was to help kids learn necessary skills in a fun way.

In his book, he accomplishes this by keeping the story realistic. He interweaves important lessons with truth based scenarios from his life and his friends’ lives–like a real encounter he had with a hormonal, developing teenage bear. 

After getting individuals input and rewriting, Jacobson  was ready to send the book to publishers and agents.

This seemed easy considering his vast background in publishing. But, it’s hard to venture into uncharted territory. Fiction publishers didn’t want all the facts, and nonfiction publishers didn’t want all the fiction. 

“They basically didn’t know how to market the thing,” says Jacobson. 

He might have self-published. But, realizing his goal was to educate youth, he decided to give the book away for free. 

My ideal achievement would be to get more kids interested in the outdoors,” said Jacobson.

About ‘Race to Survival’

Here is the book’s description:

Thirteen-year-old Justin Cody is failing two classes and is addicted to texting and playing videogames. Forced to take a wilderness canoe trip in Canada with his Grandpa Henry, Cody is thrust into a race for survival when the two discover a top-secret drone developed by the U.S. military. Grandpa Henry is kidnapped, and Justin — who knows nothing about canoeing and camping — must canoe alone to a distant lake that promises rescue.

‘Race to Survival’ is about 43,000 words and is an adventure story for 11 to 17 year-old youth. 

 Jacobsen was concerned about youth. After all, they spend hours taking selfies with goofy filters, swiping through images, and speaking digitally with one another. 

He decided to do something about it, so he wrote a book. 


Michelle Carpenter
is a reporter for the Voice of Scouting and a marketing associate for The Utah National Parks Council. Her father, husband, and brother are all Eagle Scouts, so she firmly believes some of the best men did Scouting.

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