Prepping means more than just stocking up on supplies and extra camping gear. Talk to anyone that’s serious about prepping and survival and they’ll tell you that owning a closet full of supplies is a good start, but it’s far from the most important aspect of being a survivalist. All experts agree that the most vital component to being a proficient survivalist is practice. That means getting out in the dirt and using your gear, as well as experimenting with tried and true survival skills like primitive fire making, shelter construction, food preparation, etc.
So where do you go to get the kind of training that will be vital for survival in a disaster situation?
YouTube is a good place to start, and there are plenty of books out there on the subject of survival skills, but if you really want to get some invaluable real-world instruction on survival and wilderness bushcraft skills, attending a professionally taught survivalist camp is the only way to go. There are a lot of great camps throughout the United States (not to mention worldwide), but here are 5 of the best.
The Survival Training School of California is one of the top courses in the country. The instructors are highly qualified and the STSC has trained members of the Marines, Air Force, Navy and the California Department of Justice.
The STSC offers multiple courses in various disciplines and across all skill levels. Basic skills courses are designed to teach basic survival skills and range from 1 day long to 1 week. Extreme courses are offered year-round and in any weather condition, a feature that’s unique to the STSC. Extreme courses not only teach the basic skills needed to survive in an emergency situation, but their survivalist camp actually put the student in that emergency situation. You can participate in a 3-day field course or an annual Alaskan 10-day field course, with not much more than a pocket knife for luggage. You can learn more at the STSC website.
The Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS) is the oldest wilderness survival camp in the country. Since 1968 BOSS has offered life-changing, wilderness based courses to people all over the world. The BOSS mission is dedicated to the instruction and preservation of traditional living skills and the development of people through experiences within the natural world. This makes it less of a military-style survival school and much more nature based, much like the ways of the Native American Indians.
BOSS courses range from 3 to 28 days in length, and all training takes place in the mountainous region of Southern Utah. If you’re looking to learn primitive skills, without relying on the comforts of the modern lifestyle, a BOSS course might just be the thing for you. You can learn more by visiting their website.
If you’ve been researching prepping and survival for a while, there’s a very good chance you’ve heard of Tom Brown Jr. He is one of America’s most renowned outdoorsmen and trackers. Tom Brown Jr. is also a teacher and renowned author. Since 1978 Tom has operated a tracking school in New Jersey, where he teaches students the lessons that were passed down to him by Stalking Wolf, an Apache elder, when Tom was only 7 years old.
The Tom Brown Jr. Tracker School offers many different courses throughout the year to students of all levels of experience. These courses primarily focus on primitive living and tracking, but he also focuses heavily on the awareness of living in harmony with the earth. If you’re looking for a course with heavy Native American roots and long to not only be able to survive in the wilderness but be very comfortable doing so, the Tom Brown Jr. Tracker School is definitely worth a look. Check out the school’s website.
Dave Canterbury is one of the most well-known names in outdoor survival. He runs The Pathfinder School, and the course list is among the most dynamic you’ll find anywhere. From basic survival camping knowledge to advanced woodcraft, the Pathfinder School can prepare you for any situation you may run into. Courses on medicinal plants and an entire curriculum on blacksmithing skills round out the offerings.
Dave Canterbury’s site is also an excellent resource for purchasing outdoor and survival camping equipment. You can check out all of the offerings by visiting their website.
Byron Kerns is a former Air Force SERE instructor (Survive, Escape, Resist, Evade). Since 1996 his wilderness survival camp has been teaching survival skills to small groups of people from all over the world. All courses are taught in Florida and Georgia, so if there’s a chance you’ll find yourself needing to survive in a hot, swampy environment this would definitely be the camp I would check out. Courses vary from basic to advanced and are offered throughout the year. You can find more information at their website.
Knowledge is the most important piece of survival gear you can own. The courses taught at the survival camps in this article are taught by people that have devoted their lives to surviving off the land in disaster situations. While it’s true that none of the courses are free, and some of the more advanced and lengthy classes can be pricey, you have to look at it as an investment in your family’s security and well-being. In the event of a catastrophe, the knowledge you gain from one of these survival courses may just be the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.