Woodcraft Skills vs. Survival Skills

The question arises, “Should I go to Survival School?  The concept of Survival School comes out of the military, which is training soldiers for extreme situations.  The reality for the vast majority of us is that we will never be in the extreme situations that some soldiers find themselves.  Indeed, if you spend time in nature there is a chance that you may have find yourself in a challenging situation, however, these situations are resolvable with good common sense and good backcountry skills.

A person who has a sound background in woodcraft skills will rarely find themselves in a survival situation.   This person is prepared for his or her time in nature and does not find the need to “survive” nature.  This person understands that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Meaning it is better to know how to take care of oneself in nature than to  get into trouble and have to survive nature.  This is not to say that the unexpected will not happen, however a person with good woodcraft skills will be able to manage the unexpected with confidence and ease and will be able to take the situation in stride.

Survival school is for people who really feel they want to challenge themselves.  Having taught for twelve years at one of the premier survival schools in the country, Boulder Outdoor Survival School, I understand the value of of the survival challenge.  The survival challenge for many is a right of passage, of sorts.  In this day and age the right of passage can be a valuable experience.  Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS) has few equals for the type of survival challenge they provide.

I also realized during my time teaching at BOSS, that many people simply want to learn sound backcountry skills, the type of skills that are rooted in traditional woodcraft camping.   These people are not interested in the “survival challenge” they are merely interested in learning how to be confident in nature.  Confidence in nature comes from being able to make oneself comfortable with basic gear and what nature provides.  By learning woodcraft skills, a person learns how to be comfortable and safe in nature and thereby adopting the “ounce of prevention” philosophy rather then the “pound of cure” approach.

Which type of school is right for you?  The answer truly does rest on your need for the survival challenge or not.   If the survival challenge is important to you then take a look at Boulder Outdoor Survival School, I doubt you will be disappointed, particularly if you can make yourself available for their 28-day course.  If gaining confidence to be in the backcountry is more in line with your needs, then the Woodcraft Courses or Custom Excursions taught by Desert DAWN will provide the skill and confidence to stay safe in the backcountry, whether for a day, a week or months.

Happy Trails,


Come home to nature, it welcomes you.

Join us at Desert DAWN for a re-awakening of woodcraft skills.    Gain a new perspective and appreciation for the gifts of nature through woodcraft camping skills and an old-school camping experience.

Explore More:

Woodcraft Camping Courses               Custom Excursions                Family Excursions               Day Hikes
What is Woodcraft Camping?              Woodcraft Skills – Our Core Curriculum
Vision and Mission        Contact Us          Staff Stories