There’s no shortage of guidebooks for survival, but the quickest way to gain wilderness survival skills is to take a course from an experienced instructor and get hands-on training. And lucky for us is the fact that there are a number of quality wilderness survival courses available, and the hardest part of the whole thing might be choosing which one’s best for you.
Cody Lundin’s ALSS has been operating for over 20 years, with a focus on primitive living skills, wilderness and modern outdoor survival skills, urban, suburban and rural preparedness, and disaster survival. Located in Prescott, Arizona, Lundin is an internationally recognized wilderness skills expert, the author of several survival books, his work has been featured in a wide variety of print and broadcast media, and is one of the stars of Dual Survival.
Boulder Outdoor Survival School, or BOSS, is said to be the oldest and largest traditional living skills / survival school in the world, operating since 1968. The school began with a youth leadership course. Larry Dean Olsen, at Brigham Young University, proposed taking a group of students into the backcountry for a 30 day wilderness excursion to focus on personal development and adaptability. After ten years of being offered as ‘Youth Leadership 480′ at the school, the course moved to its own separate organization in Boulder, Utah, and BOSS was born.
Tony Nester’s Ancient Pathways specializes in desert survival and primitive technology and has offered courses in wilderness survival, primitive skills, and bushcraft since 1989. Their approach to teaching is “light on lecture and heavy on the application of practical skills that have been extensively field-tested”. Nester has 20+ years of wilderness teaching experience, and his courses are held in the high country of Arizona.
Tom Brown, Jr, a renowned tracker and wilderness survival expert, founded his Tracker School in 1978, basing it on the teachings of Stalking Wolf, the Apache elder Tom began learning from when he was seven years old. Over the years, the school has expanded to include over 75 classes across eight course tracks, with the focus on tracking, wilderness and nature awareness, and survival. Classes are offered in New Jersey, California, and Florida.
The Wilderness Learning Center, located in upstate New York, has their own private 537-acre classroom to teach wilderness survival appropriate to the northeastern climate. They only offer seven day long wilderness survival programs, as they believe that this format is better than single classes, and spend time not only teaching the skills, but showing students how they fit into a survival situation. The school also conducts some programs in Vermont, North Carolina and Michigan.
This one is a bit different, as the Wilderness Awareness School is a not-for-profit environmental education organization, dedicated to “caring for the earth and our children by fostering understanding and appreciation of nature, community and self”. The school also offers wilderness survival courses at their location in Duvall, Washington, including a nine month residential program focusing on primitive wilderness survival skills, wild edible plant preparations, the principles of leadership, nature-based mentoring skills, and wildlife tracking techniques.
Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School, in Catawba, Virginia, offers a variety of courses which aim to help students gain a solid foundation in wilderness survival skills and knowledge. Their basic wilderness survival course instruction focuses on seven priorities of survival (positive mental attitude, wilderness first aid, shelter, fire craft, signaling, water, and food), and the school also offers classes in escape and evasion, if that’s your thing, and team building and training for organizations.
Images: Top – Ross_Goodman at Flickr