The Woodsman School, Advanced Survival Course

A week ago I was squatting in front of our lean-to debris shelter. It was going to get below freezing that night and if I wanted to get some sleep and have some warmth, a long log fire was key. I pulled a lighter from my pocket and set a generous piece of birch bark alight, made sure it was burning well and began adding bigger piles of fuel to the flames. After a few moments the fire was large and hot enough to work with. Now we can clean our water…


This was part of my first day of The Woodsman School LLC, Advanced Survival Course. The School is run by Derek “Sarge” Faria and is located on 40 acres of woods near Sanbornville, New Hampshire. My friend B and I were glad to have the guidance of Derek and Woodsman School Instructor, Shawn Donnelly, whose patience and never ending enthusiasm was a constant motivator during the course.


The course focused on “primitive” survival skills including fire, water, trapping, hunting, wild edibles, navigation, shelter and lots of surprises. It’s designed to test you in an environment where you are always learning, hands on. After four days and three nights of living these skills, I came out with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the woods.


Knowing how to craft your own bow drill set and getting a fat coal is one example of the skills you will achieve after passing this course. For the bow drill, it was clear that practice and technique would be a large part of my success. However, I can’t express the value of having an instructor to work with face-to-face. After about an hour on my second day I had a nice plump coal that I was able to transfer to a bird’s nest and blow into a flame.


By the third night B, myself and our two other classmates had all passed the required tasks and were looking forward to “graduation day” the next morning. Before we could get too comfortable, Derek had another surprise in store for us. Without giving away too much, I will say we had an exciting couple of hours that night, walking through the woods, tracking dinner…


If you like camping, woodcraft, bushcraft or are an outdoor enthusiast of some sort, survival school is something to consider. In New England we are fortunate to have The Woodsman School, LLC. Being prepared, aware of your self and surroundings and working towards self-reliance are a huge part of being an outdoor person. If you are ready to meet a teacher to refine and/or learn new skills, check out Sarge Faria at The Woodsman School in New Hampshire.


Photos c/o The Woodsman School, LLC

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