Interest in Survival Skills Is Rising, Experts Say: ‘It Taps Into Something Transcendental'

The most important survival skill is finding shelter, one instructor said, since "the biggest killer in the outdoors is environmental exposure."

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Since the pandemic hit, one of the many things that’s gotten more popular is an interest in learning survival skills.

New England experts say they’ve had many more people requesting classes, and now they’re holding an event for anyone to learn these skills and be put to the test.

“More and more people want to get out into the wilderness and learn some of the skills that will help them enjoy it more, keep them safe,” said Dug North, a wilderness skills instructor and practitioner who's taught at the American Outdoor School.

He and fellow New England Native Tim Swanson and like to live off the land. They've always loved the outdoors, they said.

“Throughout my life, I always wanted to camp and hike,” said Swanson, a wilderness survival skills instructor who founded Owl Eyes Wilderness Survival.

“I grew up in Vermont, it was very rural. I spent a lot of time outdoors hunting, fishing with my father,” North said.

Now, they say, there’s a growing number of people who share their passion.

“A lot of people are getting into survival because of the apocalyptic threats we seem to always have now,” Swanson said.

During the pandemic, he was able to take his business full time: “I think there’s a real-life appeal because people, they want to learn how to take care of themselves, and usually the general public to gets into it after something happens.”

Reality TV shows like "Alone" probably help — North was tapped by producers to try out for the survival challenge show.

Their expertise ranges from starting fires to hunting with homemade tools.

The most important survival skill is finding shelter, Swanson said, since “the biggest killer in the outdoors is environmental exposure.”

And you just may find empowerment by getting rid of technology and getting back to basics.

“It taps into something transcendental, spiritual," North said. "The first time you start a friction fire using two sticks, it’s the closest thing to magic that I know of,” said north.

If you want to test your survival skills, the team is holding Mountain Mayhem in Maine starting Aug. 11.

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