list of the best survival schools

List of the Best Survival Schools in the USA

One of the best investments I ever spent was enrolling in a 3-day survival school course with my family.  Not only did we get to learn a lot of new skills while enjoying breathtaking nature, but we also met a lot of like-minded people.  Some of them went on to become good friends!

If you aren’t sure whether a survival school is right for you, I’d check out this post about the pros and cons of survival courses.  But if you are ready to push your boundaries and become more self-reliant, here are some of the best survival schools in the states.

*We have no affiliation with any of these survival schools! The list is here to help you find a survival school to suit your needs. 🙂

** Some of these survival schools have courses in multiple locations, so I didn’t list them by state. If you want to find a survival school in a specific state, use CTRL+F to search for the state name on the page! 

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. Everyone I’ve talked to who has taken their survival classes has been very pleased with the instructors and information learned.

  • Location: Primarily in Missouri, Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas, and Florida. International courses sometimes held.
  • 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 classes, yes
  • Website: survivalschool.us

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
  • Website: http://www.apathways.com

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)
  • Website: http://jmbushcraft.com

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 a plus that this is 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
  • Website: https://mountainshepherd.com

Alderleaf Wilderness College

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
  • Website: http://www.wildernesscollege.com  

Alderleaf survival school

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 hid 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: Skill-based courses (map reading, navigation, basic survival skills, etc.), field courses, bushcraft courses, medical and tactical courses, private survival courses
  • Level:
  • Family Friendly:
  • Website: www.californiasurvivaltraining.com

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
  • Website: http://www.primitiveskills.com/

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 go to 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
  • Website: http://mtnscoutsurvival.com

Wilderness Awareness School

This is a survival school of 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 go through 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  
  • Website: https://wildernessawareness.org

Aboriginal Living Skills School

Run by Cody Lundin, this is a renowned survival school that will turn anyone into a survivalist.  I like how there are specific skill courses available as well as intensive survival courses.  Cody focuses on primitive survival skills, which means the focus 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
  • Website: http://www.codylundin.com/

Boulder Outdoor Survival School

Sick of living in the modern world where everyone is reliant on tech gadgets for survival? BOSS survival school will give you a welcome break from all that.  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 too.

  • Location: Colorado
  • Duration: 4-28 day courses
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Primitive survival
  • Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Website: www.boss-inc.com

EarthSkills 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: 1-5 day courses
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Wilderness survival skills, foraging and making cordage
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • Family Friendly: Kids 13 years and up when accompanied by an adult
  • Website: http://www.earthskillsllc.com/

Other Survival Schools

I personally haven’t checked out the reviews of each of these survival schools.  However, they seem to be reputable and offer a good course selection.  If you have tried any of these survival schools yourself, let us know about your experience!

Practical Primitive

  • Location: New Jersey
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Bushcraft, wilderness survival, self-reliance, primitive skills, traditional living
  • Website: http://www.practicalprimitive.com/

True North Wilderness Survival School

Wolf College

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

Hawk Circle

  • Location: New York State
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Mostly for youth and family retreats
  • Website: http://www.hawkcircle.com/

Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School

  • Location: New Jersey, some online courses too
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Wilderness survival, primitive cooking
  • Website: https://www.trackerschool.com/

First Earth Wilderness School

  • Location: Montana
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Bow and arrow, tanning, hunter-gatherer, other primitive skills
  • Website: http://firstearth.org

Ancestral Knowledge

Earthworks Wilderness Survival Training School

  • Location: Massachusetts
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Workshops, youth programs, wilderness adventures
  • Website: http://earthworkprograms.com

White Pine Programs

Twin Eagles

  • Location: Idaho
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Wild edibles, bow making, primitive skills, youth programs
  • Website: http://www.twineagles.org/

Bryon Kerns Survival School

Adventure Out

  • Location: CaliforniaTypes of Survival Classes Offered: Desert survival, snow caves and winter survival, fire, arrow making, kayak building, stone tools, and youth programs
  • Website: https://www.adventureout.com/survival/

The Human Path

  • Location: Texas
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Primitive skills, wilderness survival, herbal medicine, off-grid, homesteading
  • Website: https://thehumanpath.net/

Nantahala Outdoor Center

Learn to Return

Teaching Drum Outdoor School

  • Location: Wisconsin
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Natural living, primitive living, wilderness skills
  • Website: http://teachingdrum.org/

Reevis Mountain School

  • Location: Arizona
  • Types of Survival Classes Offered: Natural healing, self-reliance, growing your own food, traditional living
  • Website: https://www.reevismountain.org/

Image credits:

Arctic Survival ”Cool School”” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by AirmanMagazine
Survival field trip at the Alderleaf Wil” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Alderleaf Wilderness College
Making Fire by Friction” (CC BY 2.0) by Sterling College

About the Author Anna Weaver

Hi, I'm Anna, my passions are hiking, homesteading and outdoor living and I can't wait to share them with the Primal Survivor community.

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