Tony Nester
Tony Nester

What are the best survival schools in the country?

What are the best survival schools in the country? The Editors Santa Fe, NM

Tony Nester
Tony Nester

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I’ve listed several below but want to preface this answer with a few thoughts. The survival field has grown tremendously in the past decade and there are many different approaches to teaching. I would recommend researching the school’s teaching methodologies and their focus. You’ll want to decide whether you want a lecture or hands on course, and in what discipline you want to be trained—military, disaster-prep, Native American, primitive skills, therapeutic, or practical outdoor skills. Think about whether food and water will be provided, or whether it will be more of an endurance (i.e. suffering and deprivation) test.

Tony Nester

Tony Nester Tony Nester

Below are several schools spread throughout the US that focus on practical skills.

Wilderness Arts Institute, Montana
David Cronenwett, who heads the school, is the Naturalist-in-Residence at The Nature Conservancy’s Pine Butte Guest Ranch. He has been teaching Natural History, Bushcraft and Wilderness Survival since 1999. His courses focus on winter survival, summer survival in the Rockies, and bushcraft skills. For more info, visit

Jack Mountain Bushcraft, Maine
Run by professional guide Tim Smith, JMB is a bushcraft and wilderness survival school and a traditional Maine guide service. Visit for info on Tim’s courses—which range from two days to 12 weeks.

Midwest Native Skills Institute, Ohio
Instructor Tom Laskowski, whose primitive firemaking methods are legendary, offers comprehensive classes in wilderness survival. He’ll teach you how to survive and live comfortably in the wilderness with little or no equipment.

Ancient Pathways, Arizona
This is my school in northern Arizona. We provide 2-21 day courses in desert survival, bushcraft, walkabouts, and our signature knife-only course. This is the course actor Emile Hirsch took to prep for his role in the film Into the Wild. For more info, go to

Primitive Survival Skills, Florida
Former Navy Seal Madison Parker teaches in the panhandle of Florida and combines extensive survival experience in the jungle with years of applying primitive living skills. Plus, he is a true master with a slingshot! Visit for his courses.

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