ESL Exercises - Desert Exercise



While you are driving alone through the desert, your camper breaks down late in the afternoon, and you cannot fix it. You discover that the road you are traveling on is closed to traffic. There is no hope of anyone driving by to help you. There are no telephones nearby.

Your best solution is to walk back to a service station, which you remember passing. You calculate that you have driven about one hour and fifteen minutes at an average speed of 80-kilometers (50 miles) per hour. You will only be able to travel at night because of the intense heat and burning sun.


1. stranded

left in a place with no way to get out

2. desert

large open area without water or trees

3. camper

van or pickup truck equipped for sleeping

4. breaks down

stops working

5. traffic

cars, trucks, etc. on the road

6. Solution

answer to a problem

7. (to) calculate

(to) work with numbers

8. mess kit

utensils used for cooking and eating in a small pack

9. canteen

metal container for water

10. flare

device for making a fire to use as a signal

11. first-aid kit

small box containing medical equipment

12. insect repellent

something used to keep insects away

13. thermos

special container to keep liquids hot or cold

14. compass

instrument for finding directions

The Camper has the following items in it:

mess kit

insect repellent

dozen eggs


can opener

flare gun

sleeping bag


book of matches

thermos of hot coffee

dozen flares

camping stove

portable radio


wool blanket

fresh vegetables

can of gas

beach umbrellas

first-aid kit

fresh fruit

large utility knife

canned food


Work in groups. Share your answers with the class.

  1. Because of the limitations of space and weight, you can only carry five items.
    1. Decide which five items to take.
    2. Arrange these five items in order of importance.

  2. Most of the items in the camper can fit into two categories:
    1. camping gear, and
    2. food. Put these items into their categories.

  3. Calculate the distance and the approximate amount of time needed to walk that distance.

  4. What alternatives are there for solving this situation, other than walking back to the service station.

  5. Can you think of any items missing from the list that you might need? Name them.

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