Survival Essentials


We’ve all heard stories of someone stranded, alone, in a remote wilderness. Some survive against almost impossible odds, while others meet a tragic fate. What choices make the difference between life and death? What is the first thing YOU would do?

Survival Essentials will help you answer these questions, and learn the life-saving wilderness skills you need to embark on outdoor adventures with confidence. Through this engaging, hands-on experience, you’ll explore the seven priorities of survival – the seven key elements to making it out alive.

Over the course of just two days and one night, you’ll learn the essentials of positive mental attitude, wilderness first aid, shelter, fire craft, signaling, water, and food. In the end, after “rescue,” you will have a solid foundation of wilderness survival skills and knowledge. Through hands-on experience, you’ll be ready to start and maintain a knee-high fire in the pouring rain or improvise an effective shelter using the most appropriate knots and lashings.

This course is a “modern” survival course.  We encourage proper equipment, preparedness, and practice so you always prevail should your adventure take an unexpected turn into a survival situation.

What to Expect

Mountain Shepherd’s gorgeous 100-acre campus provides an immersive wilderness experience, with comfort close at hand if needed. Starting with a brisk uphill walk to our first hands-on lesson, the course cycles among covered outdoor training camps so students can learn and practice the seven priorities of survival in a variety of settings. Home base is the Mountain Shepherd lodge, with ample indoor and outdoor space for meals and downtime. While you should be prepared to spend both days outdoors, Mountain Shepherd’s well-appointed classroom is available if the weather becomes extreme.

Students can choose to overnight in a tent, hammock, or improvised survival shelter. Loaner gear such as tents, hammocks, and sleeping bags are available, so this is a great opportunity to try something new or test out your own sleep system.


Adventure Highlights

  •       2 days/1 night
  •       Survival training
  •       Hiking prep
  •       All meals included
  •       Memories to last a lifetime
  •       Small group environment (10 maximum)
  •       Hands-on learning
Who chooses this adventure?

Outdoor experience levels do not matter. We have students with no experience, to occasional weekend hikers, to warriors of the wilderness. Everyone learns valuable information in this course. You will leave prepared to help yourself and others while on any adventure.

This is a course for adults. 18 year olds may come alone. Mature 16 & 17 year olds may come with a responsible partner over the age of 18.

What's Included?


The only required items are weather appropriate clothing and comfortable tennis/walking/hiking shoes or boots. You don’t need to buy a thing. The equipment list includes gear you should always have with you on an outdoor adventure. Bring what you have or borrow from us. We have everything you’ll need. It’s best to borrow before you buy. Part of the training includes gear recommendations for your personal survival kit.


Yes, you’ll learn which bugs are edible and how to identify them – but eating them is optional! All meals and snacks are provided, with plenty of options and dietary accommodations available.

Overnight accommodations

This is your adventure! You may choose to fully embrace the experience by spending the night in an improvised survival shelter. It’s also totally fine to sleep in a tent, a hammock, or a bunk in the lodge. The choice is yours.


Travel Arrangements

Your adventure begins and ends at the Mountain Shepherd Lodge in Catawba, VA.The nearest airport is Roanoke (ROA), which is approximately a 30 minute drive time.

Arrival time is by 9:30 Saturday morning. The course concludes by 1:00 on Sunday. If you prefer to travel on Friday, you can stay at the lodge. $50 includes a bunk and breakfast. $25 for each additional person in your group. Group, semi-private and private rooms are available. Contact us for reservations. Payment due before you leave.

Activity Level

Easy to Moderate

After meeting at the Mountain Shepherd Lodge on Saturday morning, you’ll do some introductions and pack lunch for a day spent in the woods. There will be a 1/4 mile, 10-minute hike to the teaching campsite (this does begin with a short, steep climb). At the end of the day, the group will walk back to the Lodge for dinner, and the option to pack-up for an evening out under the stars back at the campsite.

Day 2 will also involve a short hike to the campsite to continue the survival training, with the option to do a little hiking on the property on the way back to the Lodge before the course wraps up.

What to Pack
  • Seasonally appropriate clothes:
    • Good fitting and broken-in hiking boots/shoes
    • Hiking socks (wool or synthetic recommended)
    • Active T-shirt (synthetic or merino wool recommended–avoid cotton)
    • Lightweight insulating top layer (a light, long-sleeve synthetic fleece or wool shirt, sweater, or jacket)
    • Second insulating top layer (an additional synthetic, wool, or fleece shirt, jacket, or vest)
    • Consider a third, heavier insulating layer such as a puffy jacket or thicker fleece (not needed in summer)
    • Rain jacket (hood and ventilating zippers recommended)
    • Hiking pants (durable, quick drying synthetic pants are ideal)
    • Bottom base layer, e.g. midweight synthetic or merino wool long john pants (not needed in summer)
    • Warm winter hat and gloves or mittens (not needed in summer)
  • Water Bottle – fresh drinking water for refills provided
  • Optional Gear List:
    • Backpack
    • Sleeping Bag
    • Sleeping Pad
    • Pillow
    • Flashlight or headlamp
    • Knife – fixed and/or folding blade
    • Whistle
    • Signal Mirror
    • Cooking pot and utensils
    • Notepad/pen



NOTE: Once you purchase your course, you should automatically receive our registration form in your email. If you don’t see it right away, please check your junk folder.