It takes a lot more than just reading to master survival techniques such as foraging and fire making than just reading about them.
Practice will get you a long way toward mastering those skills that could very well save your life, and even more so, practicing under the direction of a trained wilderness survival guide can increase your knowledge tenfold. Luckily, across the nation and surrounded by some of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the country, there are plenty of well—recognized schools and programs that offer a perfect environment to learn about wilderness survival. Whether it’s a two-day trip you’re looking for, or something much more, these 12 survival schools can help you not only survive in a wilderness situation, but also thrive with more confidence in your daily life.
Boulder Outdoor Survival School—Boulder, Colorado
Established in 1968, Boulder Outdoor Survival School (Boss) is one of the oldest traditional skills and survival schools out there, and it’s not just their adventure-beckoning backdrop of southern Utah that has kept them in business so long, it’s the expertise of the guides and programs that have cemented them on top of the survival school list. Featuring field courses equipped with not much more than a knife and poncho, and skills courses that focus on specific wilderness survival techniques like navigation, all ranging from 7-28 days in length, with enough time spent in the midst of Boulder Outdoor Survival School, you can be ready for nearly anything Mother Nature throws your way.
Wilderness Awareness School—Duvall, Washington
Featuring both adult and youth wilderness courses, the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Washington, is in part a program designed to aid in a wilderness situation, but the program also encourages a connection with the natural space you might find yourself in. Featuring programs like weekend-long Basic Survival Skills courses and week-long Wilderness Survival Immersion, Wilderness Awareness School also provides unique courses like a Wildlife Tracking class that meets one week every month of the year. For those looking to deepen their connection with the natural world, Wilderness Awareness School also offers a 9-month Anake Outdoor School which features coursework and several extended trips out into the surrounding Pacific Northwest adventure-sphere.
Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School—Waretown, New Jersey
Author of over a dozen books, including the 1978 “The Tracker", Tom Brown Jr. reportedly first developed his wilderness survival skills at the age of 7, with the help of an Apache Elder by the name of Stalking Wolf. Tom Brown Jr. developed those skills throughout his life, aiding and abetting in many wilderness survival situations, and eventually opening his Tracker School in 1978. Since then, the skills have continued to develop, as well as the curriculum and impressive roster of co-instructors at the Tracker School. Mixing practical knowledge on how to thrive in the outdoors, and philosophical ideologies to help cultivate a connection to the natural world, most programs offered by Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School are a week long, and you can bet you’ll be a different person by week’s end.
Mountain Shepherd Survival School—Catawba, Virginia
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the Mountain Shepherd Survival School has courses and programs for every member of the family, all catered to fit every level of experience you are looking for. Whether you just want the Survival 101 coursework, or you are aiming to improve your stealth and evasion skills as part of the Hidden Pursuit program, perhaps you want to find an alternative to the usual “girl’s night out" in the Sisterhood: Wild and Free course, whatever it is you are looking to learn about wilderness survival, or whatever it is you’re looking to get out of a wilderness situation, Mountain Shepherd Survival School can help lead the way.
Ancient Pathways—Flagstaff, Arizona
All of Ancient Pathways courses are instructed in the adventure-rich region of Northern Arizona, and whether it’s a two-day excursion or month-long pursuit, Ancient Pathways has proven for nearly 30 years to be one of the best survival schools in the nation. With classes ranging in curriculum from Knife-Only Survival courses to Vehicle Recovery, there is a lot of learning made possible at Ancient Pathways, including Survival 101 to make sure the basic skills are sharpened enough to cut through most wilderness emergencies and situations.
Jack Mountain Bushcraft School—Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
Established in 1999, Jack Mountain Bushcraft School provides a wide array of different wilderness courses that vary from week-long outings to college-accredited semesters in the field. Whether you spend a week, an academic semester or even 5+ months as part of the Yearlong Bushcraft Immersion Program, with the stunning backdrop of the northern forest of New Hampshire as your blackboard, Jack Mountain Bushcraft School is an excellent places to get an education.
Mountain Scout Survival School—Beacon, New York
While there are a lot of courses to choose from at Mountain Scout Survival School, including The Art of Invisibility and Urban Preparedness, a recommended place to start is the Wilderness 1 course that introduces participants to the basic tenants of survival, including shelter building, water and food gathering, fire making, animal tracking and wilderness awareness. From there, Mountain Scout Survival School can help you develop these specific tenants through specialized courses, ensuring that you’ll be ready for any situation Mother Nature might throw your way.