The Thrill of the Skill

Survival and Wilderness Skills

Apr 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
adventure sports camps Survival, WIlderness Skills

Master of your domain: Roughing it in Colorado's Elk Range    Photo: Abrahm Lustgarten

Tom Brown's Tracker Shool
Ashbury, New Jersey
For 26 years, Tom Brown has been teaching backcountry self-sufficiency to students—including a Survivor cast member—at his farm in northern New Jersey. In his Seven-Day Standard Course, you and 12 other campers will learn to forage for edible violets, make tools from stone, navigate by starlight, and build shelters from mud and animal hides. "After this class," says Brown, "you'll be able to survive in any condition, track a mouse across a driveway, and no longer be an alien in your own environment."
End Game: Living comfortably—without matches, food, or a compass—in uncomfortable conditions.
Info: $800 (all-inclusive), April to September; 908-479-4681,
Or Try: Boulder Outdoor Survival School, in Boulder, Utah, where you'll learn to explore in desert conditions with little more than the clothes on your back; seven-day field course, $985; 303-444-9779,

National Outdoor Leadership School
Lander, Wyoming
NOLS's leave-no-trace philosophy and leadership training have set the standard in outdoor education since 1965. Who better to show you the backcountry ropes? Sign on for its 30-day Wind River Wilderness Course and trek up to ten miles a day, setting up minimum-impact camps and learning to lead your teammates and two instructors. Lessons in route finding and GPS navigation, plus three days of climbing instruction, will help even those without prior backcountry experience get around (and over) the 12,000-foot peaks. Culinary perk: You'll be catching and cooking your own cutthroat trout and baking campfire pizzas in no time.
End Game: Planning, leading, and cleaning up after yourself on an extended wilderness trip.
Info: $3,150 (all-inclusive), June to September; 800-710-6657,
Or Try: REI Adventures' seven-day Rainier Backpacking Trip, combining instruction with a 40-mile trek on the Northern Loop and Wonderland trails; $1,095; 800-622-2236,