“In the school of the woods, there is no graduation day.”
– HORACE KEPHART, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917
When it comes to training, you get what you pay for, period. Unlike other professions (like Forestry), there are no certifications or state registration/licensure. Anyone can represent themselves to the public as a “survival instructor.”
Before spending your hard earned money, valuable time, and perhaps even jeopardizing your life and creating the ultimate heartache for your family, spend sometime checking out YOUR potential survivor instructor. Here are a few questions we suggest you ask…
- Do they make their livelihood in the industry, or is this a part-time gig?
- How long have they been in business?
- Where did they get their training? Ask to see their resume.
- Are they respected in the industry by their peers?
- Where are you training?
- If you are going into the backcountry, does the instructor have any medical training?
- What is the student to instructor ratio?
- Will there be more than one instructor? If so, who? Really be asking this with large schools.
- If you are interested in primitive skills, flora, geology, etc., train with a school in your own geography.
Below is a list of schools of which we have first hand experience or have a good reputation from other instructors we have a relationship with. It is by no means an end all be all list. There are surely many great schools out there we have not heard of yet, so please provide your feedback.
Also, see the Events page as it can be a great place to learn from many instructors in one location. We especially appreciate those instructors that attend these gatherings as it provides them an opportunity to learn/share with their peers.
Instructor: Bill Kaczor
Location: Brentwood, MD
Description: Ancestral Knowledge is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization operated by a community of naturalists who specialize in native life skills. We use the earth and our natural surroundings as the tools to teach wilderness survival, primitive skills, activities, and philosophies that support sustainable lifestyles. We custom design our outdoor education presentations and programs to fit the needs of schools, community groups, families and individuals. We combine two methods of teaching. These include Experiential Education-“learning by doing” and Coyote Teaching-“guiding not giving”. This allows our participants to develop a way of thinking that increases their problem solving skills and self reliance.
Instructor: Joe Flowers
Location: Masardis, Maine
Description: The Bushcraft Global Expedition experience is a two week trip that takes you through the breathtaking jungle of Columbian and Brazilian amazon rain forest, learning unique primitive living skills and applying them. Bushcraft Global follows an expedition style format focusing on survival skills, self-reliance, and self-confidence in unique extreme situations, while also educating clients on the science and biology of the jungle.
Jack Mountain Bushcraft School
Instructor: Tim Smith
Location: Masardis, Maine
Description: We’re a bushcraft, survival, guide training and wilderness expedition school established in 1999 and based on the Aroostook River in Masardis, Maine. We teach college-accredited, GI Bill approved semester and yearlong immersion programs in bushcraft and wilderness guide training, as well as shorter courses on wilderness survival and traditional north woods crafts. We also lead canoe and snowshoe expeditions.
Instructor: Mark Warren
Location: Dahlonega, Georgia
Description: A Primitive School of Earthlore in the North Georgia Mountains. Classes range from Bow Making, Tracking, to Basic Survival and more. However, where Medicine Bow shines is Mark’s intimate knowledge of Cherokee plant use backed up with science from his degree in chemistry / pre-med. Many classes are plant focused. Over 30 years experience as a full-time outdoor educator, former Slalom/Downriver combined U.S. National Canoe Champion and World Longbow Champion to boot.
Midwest Native Skills Insitute
Instructor: Tom Laskowski
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Description: MNSI is a non-military, wilderness, outdoors school headquartered in Ohio, offering comprehensive classes in wilderness survival designed to teach you how to survive and live comfortably in the wild with little or even no equipment. Additionally, the skills you will learn in MNSI classes will allow you to feel more comfortable in your own home, and prepare you for any emergency inside or outside of the comfort of the four walls you live within.
Instructor: Eddie Starnater and Julie Martin
Location: Great Meadows, New Jersey
Description: Founded in 2007 by Eddie Starnater and Julie Martin, Practical Primitive is dedicated to the small-group and individual instruction of adults in all aspects of Primitive, Traditional and Self-Reliance skills.
Randall’s Adventure & Training
Instructor: Mike Perrin & Jeff Randall
Location: AL, CA, South America
Description: Randall’s Adventure and Training conducts training operations both in Latin America and the United States. Our Latin American operations employ indigenous guides, instructors, foreign government and military personnel. All students should be aware that our training is real and not “watered down.” If you are squeamish, politically correct, lack a sense of humor, or have a problem with reality and adverse conditions, then you would be better off finding another organization to train with.
Location: Bradford, Vermont
Description: Roots School educates people of all ages in wilderness survival, long term primitive living skills, and tracking and nature awareness. We focus on building strong connections to our landscapes. All students can expect small class sizes, experience based practical learning, and highly skilled instructors with a wide breadth and depth of education.
School in the Woods
Instructor: Doug Getgood
Location: Oakville, Ontario
Description: School in the Woods have many locations that are regularly used – Oakville, Burlington, Norval and Bracebridge, all in Ontario, Canada
The Southern Herbalist
Instructor: Darryl Patton
Location: Gadsden, Alabama
Description: Darryl operates a school in the mountains of North Alabama where he teaches a wide range of classes; wilderness survival, primitive skills, medicinal plants and more. He has decades of experience teaching since the 1980’s when got out of the Army. For those seeking to further their knowledge in the world of herbs and alternative medicine, he also offers one-on-one apprenticeships. His book, Mountain Medicine: The Herbal Remedies of Tommie Bass, can be found in our Literature section.
Instructor: Natalie Bogwalker
Location: Asheville, NC
Description: Homesteading, Primitive Skills, Self Sufficiency, Organic Gardening, Wild Foods, Herbalism, Natural & Primitive Building, Edible Landscaping, Living Off the Grid, Survival Adventures, Wine Making, and much more…
Woodsmoke Camping Company
Instructor: Chuck Winchester & Chris Noble
Location: Southeast U.S.
Description: Mankind has been gathering around a campfire for eons. It’s in our DNA. Step back and enjoy the simple pleasures of camp life with Woodsmoke Camping Company. We can customize a package specific to your event, retreat, corporate team building, barn wedding and more. Need an outfitter or interested in outdoor education, we have that too!