It’s summer, which means time for camps! Here in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere, survival camps are quite popular with kids and adults. Offerings run from the standard, such as archery and foraging, to the more exotic, such as “hiding in the woods” (my kids took that one) to “processing a goat” (my husband wants to take that one).

For my part, I have been trying to stock a larder in the garage. This is the extent of my conventional survival skills. Others of my faculty colleagues, however, take survivalism more seriously. One of our senior professors, in addition to becoming an expert at canning, has a cache of weapons in case things get dicey and she needs to protect her family. I imagine her holding a rifle next to a half-buried bunker, as the tall grasses blow in the breeze.

But most of us don’t live in solitude and wilderness (and neither does she, for that matter). If the big one hits, we won’t be out in the middle of nowhere. There will be people all around us, with varying needs and capabilities. Resources will be scarce. Communication and information channels will be disordered. No one will be officially in charge. Disputes will be rampant. Weapons may protect us against some dangers but will not help with the ongoing problems associated with surviving in communities. Surely among the most useful skills we could have in such a situation would be negotiation and conflict management!

It’s tempting to start joking at this point about two campers surviving the zombie apocalypse because they separated the people from the problem and explored interests rather than resorting to positions. But is it so far from the truth?

Jennifer Reynolds is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon Law and the Faculty Director of the ADR Center. Teaching civil procedure, conflicts of law, negotiation, and mediation, her research interests include dispute systems design, problem-solving in multiparty scenarios, judicial attitudes toward ADR, and cultural influences and implications of alternative processes. She is also a contributor to ADR Prof Blog.