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20 Best Schools in the US to Learn Survival Skills


We’re never too old to gain more survival-based knowledge. Attending one of these survival schools may be one of the best investments you make in your entire life. Some of the benefits besides learning survival skills are meeting like-minded people, being in nature and making lifelong friends.

1. Earth Skills Self-Reliance School

EarthSkills is the first school in SC with over 3,200 followers in the last 5 years. Founded in 2013, the stated purpose of EarthSkills, LLC. is to help re-acquaint the community with the bounty of nature and to reclaim the skills our culture once depended on to prosper as human beings.
Location: South Carolina
Duration: 1 to 5 day courses available
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Wilderness, foraging and making cordage
Level: Beginner to advanced
Family Friendly: Kids 13 years and up, when accompanied by an adult
Profile: EarthSkills Self-Reliance School

2. Boulder Outdoor Survival School

BOSS will give you a welcomed break from technology. The school focuses on primitive living skills, and you can expect to live at basecamp with just hand-made materials. It is fun, educational, and actually a good vacation spot.
Location: Utah
Duration: Ranges from 4-28 day options
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Primitive survival
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Family Friendly: No
Profile: Boulder Outdoor Survival School

3. Maine Primitive Skills School

This survival school markets itself as the “center for wilderness awareness, survival, self-reliance, and nature connection.” A lot of people will prefer the “earth living” focus over the doomsday mentality which is used at other survival schools.
Location: Maine
Duration: Mostly 1-5 days
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Foraging, earth living, wilderness survival
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Family Friendly: Youth survival camps offered
Profile: Maine Primitive Skills

4. Sigma 3 Survival School

Sigma 3, or “The Institute for Self-Reliance,” is one of the best-known survival schools. They offer a huge variety of courses from weekend wilderness retreats to customized classes. People are generally very pleased with the instructors and information learned.
Location: Primarily in Missouri, Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas, and Florida. Limited international courses.
Duration: From 1-day walks to 7+ days
Types of Survival Classes Offered: SERE, wilderness training, anti-abduction and defense, wild plants, survival fishing, trapping, and more
Level: Complete beginner to advanced classes available
Family Friendly: Some options available
Profile: Sigma 3

5. Ancient Pathways

Based in Arizona, Ancient Pathways is best known for their primitive skills courses such as how to trap, track, and survive with tools that you can make yourself. They are also one of the best places to learn desert survival skills. You don’t have to worry if you aren’t advanced – there are all levels of courses. For more advanced people, there are survival classes like “knife only” and field courses.
Location: Arizona
Duration: 1-day, overnight, and multi-day courses available
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Primitive survival, wilderness survival, bushcraft field courses, desert survival
Level: Beginner to advanced
Family Friendly: For kids 14 years and up
Profile: Ancient Pathways

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6. Thomas Coyne Survival Schools (Formerly the Survival Training School of California)

There are some basic wilderness survival courses offered by Thomas Coyne, but this is the survival school you want to go to for EXTREME experiences. In those all-weather survival courses, you won’t be allowed to use a sleeping bag or munch on Snickers bars that you hide in your pockets. The survival school is very affordable for the level of skill taught.
Location: California, yearly courses held in Alaska
Duration: Mostly 1-8 days
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Map reading, navigation, basic survival skills, field courses, bushcraft courses, medical and tactical, private survival
Level: Beginner to high-level advanced
Profile: Thomas Coyne Survival Schools

7. Mountain Scout Survival School

If you live in New York and don’t want to commit to a longer survival course, Mountain Scout Survival School has a lot of 1-day classes to choose from that cover wilderness survival to emergency prepping. The nice thing is that many of the courses focus on specific topics so you can build one specific skill instead of trying to learn everything at once in an intensive field course.
Location: New York
Duration: Mostly 1-day courses
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Level: Wilderness survival, bugging out, tracking, navigation, family emergency preparedness, fire, women’s survival
Family Friendly: Children allowed, but courses designed for adults
Profile: Mountain Scout

8. Wilderness Awareness School

This is a survival school for people who love nature. There are shorter courses on tracking, bird language, edible plants, plant medicine, and other topics that will help you survive while getting closer to nature. There are also intensive survival courses that last several months.
Location: Washington State
Duration: 1-3 days; intensive courses last 9 months but are broken into weekend segments
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Wilderness survival, nature
Level: Beginner to advanced
Family Friendly: Youth programs available
Profile: Wilderness Awareness

9. Aboriginal Living Skills School

Run by Cody Lundin, this is a renowned survival school that will turn anyone into a survivalist. There are specific and intensive skill courses available. Cody focuses on primitive survival skills, which means there will be a lot more on exploring indigenous cultures than surviving SHTF disasters.
Location: Arizona
Duration: Mostly 1-day to 1-week
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Primitive skill-focused courses (fire, trapping, edible plants, desert survival…) and adventure courses
Level: Beginner to advanced
Family Friendly: Yes
Profile: Aboriginal Living Skills

10. Jack Mountain Bushcraft School

If you are looking for a more intense survival school for learning wilderness skills, Jack Mountain Bushcraft school has “semesters” which last 2 months. You can even get college credits for these courses! There are also some “folk school” classes which only last a few days where you can learn skills like knife making.
Location: New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont
Duration: Mostly longer classes from 1 week to 9 weeks
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Bushcraft, folk skills (primitive skills), outdoor skills, self-reliance workshops
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Family Friendly: Yes (see their School of the Forest classes)
Profile: Jack Mountain Bushcraft

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11. Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School

If you aren’t quite ready to disappear into the wilderness with nothing but a knife, Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School is a good option for learning basics. You will learn which insects are edible (but won’t be required to eat them) and can even stay in lodges if you wish. It’s also one of the more affordable survival schools.
Location: Virginia and Oregon
Duration: Mostly 1-3 days
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Leadership and team building, outdoor skills, wilderness first aid, bushcraft essentials
Level: Mostly beginner
Family Friendly: Yes
Profile: Mountain Shepherd

12. Alderleaf Wilderness School

This is one of the more comprehensive survival schools where you can get certification and college credits (certificate in Wilderness Skills and Education and Ecology). This is great if you want a career outdoors. For people who just want to improve their skills, there are also weekend courses available.
Location: Washington
Duration: Weekend courses, week-long courses, and a 9-month certification program
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Wilderness survival, traditional ecological knowledge, wild edibles, permaculture, wildlife tracking
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Family Friendly: No – Must be at least 18 to attend
Profile: Alderleaf Wilderness College

Other schools that are highly recommended across the United States:

13. Practical Primitive

Location: New Jersey
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Bushcraft, wilderness survival, self-reliance, primitive skills, traditional living
Profile: Practical Primitive

14. True North Wilderness Survival School

Location: Pennsylvania
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Wilderness survival
Profile: True North Outdoor School

15. Wolf College

Location: Washington
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Mostly kids camps
Profile: Wolf Camp

16. NE Ohio Primitive Living and Wilderness Survival School

Location: Ohio
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Primitive living, earth living, wilderness survival
Website: http://medicinescout.com

17. Hawk Circle

Location: New York State
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Mostly for youth and family retreats
Profile: Hawk Circle

18. Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School

Location: New Jersey, some online courses
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Wilderness survival, primitive cooking
Profile: Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School

19. First Earth Wilderness School

Location: Missouri
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Bow and arrow, tanning, hunter-gatherer, other primitive skills
Profile: First Earth Wilderness School

20. Ancestral Knowledge

Location: Maryland, DC area
Types of Survival Classes Offered: Primitive skills, family workshops, youth programs
Profile: Ancestral Knowledge

There are so many survival schools available to us. We hit the ones with the highest ratings and strongest reviews. All have links from which to gain more information about the school. It’s fun to go through each one and look at the various in-depth descriptions and also pictures that help display the type of survival skills the school specializes in. Be it for an individual or family, the young or old, one of these survival schools has something for everyone!



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