Want to Live? Wilderness Survival Schools in and Around Michigan


If you got lost out in the wilderness, would you know what to do? If not, you may want to consider wilderness survival training.

There are countless online resources for wilderness survival, including OutdoorHub, but there is nothing that quite compares to real world experience. There are many different schools and organizations that offer courses in wilderness survival and skills without the danger of trekking into the great unknown by yourself.

If you live in Michigan, then you may want to consider some of these schools located in and around the Great Lakes State.

Raven’s Wood Enterprises Preparedness Training Center

Raven’s Wood Enterprises Preparedness Training Center was founded by Tom Randall–a Michigan native and retiree of the U.S. Air Force–after moving back to Michigan in late 2000. He married his high school sweetheart shortly after, who urged him to share his skills and experience with anyone who wanted to have what she called, “an adventure”. Tom then formed a new company:  Raven’s Wood Enterprises.

When asked who should take courses at Raven’s Wood, Tom Randall answered, “Anyone who wants to have the confidence necessary to succeed in adverse conditions whether in an emergency or business.  RWE courses build personal confidence and will to succeed.”

Raven’s Wood offers classes and training that serve to give, according to Randall, “Real World experience in a very primitive setting.” Survival courses include Family and Home Preparedness, Basic and Intermediate Survival, Basic Woodscraft, and Winter Survival.

When asked what the single most important survival skill was, Randall said “Indomitable Spirit: Never give up.” This portrays what Raven’s Wood is all about. It is a challenging, primitive, and ultimately rewarding experience for those looking for wilderness survival training.

Raven’s Wood also offers customized courses for those who want more, or less, than listed in their current offerings.

Raven’s Wood courses are typically conducted in Cheboygan, Michigan and recommends the Fort Henry Motel for those coming from outside the area. The fort Henry Motel is located at 3025 East US Hwy 23, Cheboygan, MI  49721.

North House Folk School

North House Folk School (NHFS) is a non-profit organization which focuses on teaching traditional northern craft. Among the varied offerings like fiber arts, sailing, and woodcarving NHFS also offers useful survival oriented training. If you are looking for survival skills, the Outdoor Skills & Travel courses are just what you need.

The Outdoor Skills & Travel courses teach, among other things, how to craft skis, snowshoes, or kick sleds, fly fishing skills, winter survival, and in general bushcraft (survival).

What sets NHFS apart from other schools is its focus on the social element. In an interview with the director of NHFS, Greg Wright, he stated that if you are going to take courses at NHFS, “Expect to get your hands dirty, and come with stories to tell.” Wright also stated that communication between individuals is essential, because “The written word is the dead word, not because it isn’t useful, but because it isn’t filled with life, because it isn’t animated by the person telling the story.”

If you are looking for the best wilderness survival course that NHFS has to offer, Wright recommended the Winterer’s Gathering, in particular because it was “populated by a group of people who love to do it.”

If you are considering NHFS, Wright gave an idea of what to expect, “It’s about being involved, not a lecture format. It’s about hands-on learning… you really want to come prepared to engage.”

When asked who NHFS was for, Wright said simply, “People who want enjoy the outdoors and want to strip away some of the modern encumbrances that we go into the landscape with.”

North House Folk School is located in Minnesota, just off of Lake Superior. It is located at 500 West Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN, 55604.

Willow Winds

Willow Winds is owned and operated by outdoorsman and writer Jim Miller. Willow Winds offers a variety of outdoors courses, ranging from natural fiber twining and cordage to northwoods beaver trapping.

For those looking for survival training, Willow Winds offers courses in fiber twining, flintknapping arrowheads, hide tanning, and fire cordage. The classes run throughout the year, and you can find calendars here.

For those looking for a comprehensive wilderness survival course, the Michigan Outdoor Skills School is just what the doctor ordered. It is a five-day session that teaches earth living skills, fire by friction, flint knapping, wild edibles and useful plants, making rawhide, map and compass (orienteering), net making, natural shelter construction, and other survival skills.

Willow Winds is located at 962 F-30, Mikado, MI, 48745.

The Pathfinder School

The Pathfinder School is a school that focuses on self-reliance and survival, with no-nonsense training for everyone who wants to head into the outdoors. The Pathfinder School was founded by Dave Canterbury, a US Army veteran and wilderness survival expert.

Canterbury knows how to survive, and his years of experience are your gain. The Pathfinder School offers classes in basic survival skills, primitive survival skills, advanced survival skills, pathfinder scouting, youth archery, survival trapping classes, and more. The Pathfinder School offers custom, private classes as well.

Who should enroll in these courses? When asked by Daniel Xu in an interview with OutdoorHub what type of person made the best student, Canterbury said, “You know, sometimes it’s the guy who’s never done it before–the guy who comes in there without the assumption that he knows what he’s doing. Those people make the best students because they’re open-minded and capable of thinking outside the box. They’re not stuck in the mind frame of only doing it this way or only doing it that way.” So even if you are brand new to survival training, The Pathfinder School may be just the right fit.

The Pathfinder School is located in Ohio, with courses and events located throughout the state. A schedule of upcoming classes can be found here.

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