With Greenville’s very own Chris Underwood recently winning “Survivor: Edge of Extinction,” you may wonder what it takes to rough it in the wild.
Surviving in the wilderness is both a physical and a mental game. But, if you want to learn anything survival-related — from how to tie a knot and build a fire to how to procure water and build shelters — the Upstate’s Trail Blazer Survival School can teach you just that.
Outdoor expert and instructor Tyler Weathers says Trail Blazer teaches valuable safety and survival skills in an atmosphere that’s welcoming to everyone.
“If you look up a lot of survival schools around, it’s going to be these burly old mountain men or it’s going to be paramilitary people that you feel like you’re in boot camp,” Weathers says.
With over 30 acres in Union next to the Sumter National Forest, the school offers hands-on learning with lots of trails, camping areas, and a pond.
Throughout the summer, kids ages 10 to 14 can attend nine different day camps. Some summer camp themes include hiking, fishing, Minecraft, backpacking, and archery.
“During the school year, we offer wilderness survival training for older teens all the way up to adults,” Weathers says. “We have beginner classes that basically are just for how to survive a 72-hour emergency.”
Then, self-sufficiency skills are taught in the harder courses. Students are allowed to have only camping gear.
“In our advanced course, we try to teach everything you do — every tool you use, you’ve created yourself just off the land,” he says. “[You’re] living primitively and how our ancient ancestors might’ve lived.”
“One of the big things people do incorrectly is they don’t stop,” he says. “We have an acronym. It’s Stop, Think, Observe, Plan.”
As soon as you step off the trail or lose your way, Weathers says remaining calm is essential.
Trail Blazer wants to make the outdoors fun for kids and adults alike. “We grew up catching bugs and just really just always being outside,” Weathers says.
Weathers’ wife, Roxane, also spent much of her childhood playing in creeks and building forts. Now, she works alongside her husband as the operations manager.
“The wilderness is a big giant place,” she says. “[We want to] offer some appreciation of how awesome it is but also how dangerous it could potentially be if you’re not at least basically trained.”
While anyone can learn the skills taught at Trail Blazer, a certain dedication is required, so students should come ready to learn.
“We’re not trying to prep for the end of the world,” Roxane says with a laugh. “We’re just trying to make sure people have basic skills all the way up to primitive skills. It just depends on your level of dedication. So, anybody can do it.”
For more information on upcoming summer camps and other survival training, visit trailblazersurvival.com.