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Training & Tips

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The 52 Week Food Storage Plan Made Simple

Courtesy of APN

In the beginning, we all struggle to wrap our heads around the idea of having enough food in our food storage to last our family for a year. It can be very overwhelming. I have learned through multiple sources how to break this project down to make your long-term goal more attainable AND controllable.

Organization is the key to getting your storage done faster and more effectively to ensure your family has a 3 month supply of food, and also a years’ worth of food. This article will show a different way to go about collecting food storage, by having a set goal and plan in mind versus just buying this and that all the time and then wondering, “Just how many meals do I have?” So much space is wasted on food storage because a plan is not laid out and followed and you never really know how many meals you have on hand.

The plan:

The first thing you’re going to do is sit down and come up with a meal plan for two weeks (14 days). That will include breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyone’s plan will be different based on your family’s needs. We have four people in our family so my examples/numbers will be based on that. You can change the numbers based on the amount of people you will feed and their dietary choices.

Now comes the tricky part, the math. Based on your meal plan, you will have to figure up the amount of servings each family member would eat according to the package directions. Once you have that figured out, multiply it by 52 to see how many servings of that product are needed (or 13 weeks if starting with a 3 month plan). Then multiply it by the amount of each family member in your household.

It would look like this: These figures are based on eating the product once a week.

Amount of Servings x 52 Weeks in the Year = Total amount needed for one person.

Total amount x 4 = the complete amount needed to eat that product once a week for one year.

If you were to eat that product twice in one week you would then multiply the complete amount x two. (And so on)

Here is an example of one of our breakfast meals and one of a dinner meal so you can get an idea of how to work the math.

Breakfast For 1 day:

  • Sausage: Honey Ville #10 canned sausage holds 24 servings of sausage. One serving is half a cup, but re-hydrates to 1 cup. Based on that, I count the 1/2 cup servings as one cup of sausage (or you can opt for TVP freeze-dried sausage, this is considerably cheaper, but it is textured vegetable protein verses real pork).
    • 1 cup of sausage x 52 = 52 c
    • 52/24 (number of servings) = approx. 2.1 cans
    • 2 cans x 4 people = 8 cans of sausage
    • 8 cans = sausage for breakfast once time a week for an entire year.
    • Water amount to re-hydrate the meat. One cup of boiling water to a 1/2 cup of sausage.
    • 24 cups of water x 8 cans of sausage = 192 cups of water
    • Conversion: 192 cups of water = 12 gallons of water to prepare these meals.
  • Eggs: Honey Ville Powdered Eggs #10 can = 78 tablespoons
    • One egg takes 2 tablespoons of powdered mix.
    • 8 eggs = 16 tablespoons (2 eggs each)
    • 16 tablespoons x 52 = 832 tablespoons for 2 eggs each, once a week, for one year.
    • 78 tablespoons x 11 cans = 858 tablespoons
    • 11 cans = 2 eggs, one time a week, per person for a year with a little left over.
    • Water amount needed: To reconstitute 1 egg, add 4 tablespoons of water.
    • 8 eggs x 4 tablespoons of water = 32 tablespoons water
    • 32 tablespoons water x 52 weeks in a year = 1664 tablespoons water
    • Conversion: 1664 tablespoons = 104 cups of water which = 6.5 gallons of water

Conclusion: To eat this meal once a week for a family of four, we would need;

  • 8 cans of Honey Ville freeze-dried sausage.
  • 11 cans of Honey Ville Powdered Whole Eggs
  • 18.5 gallons of water. (This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to add that to your water storage. These small amounts can be used out of each person’s gallon of water per day.)

Dinner for 1 day:

  • Spaghetti Sauce and Noodles:
    • 32 ounce jar of Classico spaghetti sauce x 52 = 52 Jars
    • 1 pounds package of noodles x 52 = 52 packages of noodles
    • Packages of Bisquick garlic rolls that you just add water two x 52 = 52 packs

Conclusion: To eat spaghetti once a week for a year you will need;

  • 52 Jars of spaghetti sauce.
  • 52 packages of noodles.
  • 52 packages of Bisquick garlic roll mix.

OR you can go with the simple pre-made entrees in # 10 cans. For example:

  • Mountain House #10 Can of Spaghetti With Meat Sauce:
  • 10- 1 cup servings per can
  • 52/10 (number of servings) = 5.2 cans (We will say 6 cans.)
  • 6 cans x 4 = 24 cans of Spaghetti and meat sauce.

As you can see, putting together the meal plan for a two-week meal plan takes a little time and a bit of basic math, but it will be worth it in the end. It will save you money and give you comfort knowing that you have daily meals for 3 months or 1 year. I recommend starting off with a 3 month supply of regular daily meals and then build upon that with your staples (meaning 5 gallon buckets of flour, beans, wheat, sugar, powdered milk and things of that nature).

That does not mean you can’t add other items like spices or snacks if you have the means to. For us, having a plan and sticking to it according to our budget has really helped keep things in order and accomplish our goals. We set aside $50.00 a week to use directly on our meal plans. Make a list and start at the top. Once you have completed your first item, move on to the second. Before you know it, you will be fully stocked with your first 3 months.

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Surviving an Active Shooter Scenario

The Houston Police Department in cooperation with the Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security Department released an “Active Shooter Scenario” survival video in 2012. “Run, Hide, Fight” offers a three-step guide on what to do to protect yourself and others in the event of an attack such as the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July or the horrific shooting at Shady Nook School in Connecticut last week.

“Run, Hide, Fight” – This 5 minute video depicts a fictitious mass shooting incident occurring in an office building and shows how to survive until first responders arrive.

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Hiding Items Within the Home

by James P. Owen, owner and survival advisor at Custom Survival Solutions.

Most people have something to hide regardless if the object is valuable, sensitive, dangerous, illegal, or subject to confiscation. Storing objects in a safe under key or combination lock can be a good security measure, but not everyone wants a large, heavy, and expensive safe and a small safe bolted to the floor can only contain a limited number of items.

A safe of any size also commands attention from thieves and police as something which is virtually guaranteed to hold something special. Depending on size and weight, thieves sometimes take the entire safe without knowing what is inside.

If the homeowner is present then a burglar with a gun or police with a warrant can persuade them to open the safe immediately. Again, a safe can provide a high level of security, but sometimes it can also make sense to hide things in other locations around the home.

Most people also tend to hide things in places which can be found quite easily by burglars and police. For example, objects which have been hidden in a typical home can usually be found in a drawer or closet located in the master bedroom. Burglars and police know this to be true so they often begin their search in that part of the house.

Regardless if the home invader is a burglar or police, the amount of time they can invest in a search is limited. To be productive home invaders tend to follow the same basic three-part rule when conducting a search: 1) Look for interesting items which are openly-displayed, 2) shift attention to the most interesting containers, and 3) inspect other containers which are likely to hold something interesting. If you haven’t guessed already, they are looking for interesting things.

When a home invader begins a search they typically notice openly-displayed things such as a rifle on a gun rack, a plasma television mounted on a wall, or a jewelry box on a chest of drawers. This process usually only takes a matter of seconds per room before a deeper search begins, but we can slow them down by having more interesting (yet unimportant) things on display.

Taken to an extreme we can create distractions for home invaders, for overwhelming them with a large number of interesting display items can cause them to single out only the most exceptionally interesting things to inspect. It is quite possible they will overlook an interesting object because it lacks sparkle compared to all the other shiny things in the room. Another delaying tip is to secure some of those openly-displayed items with locked display cases.

The more time they spend trying to access and investigate displayed items the less time they have to sort through our containers. We can also create some diversions too. For example, hiding a gold coin inside a dull matchbook and leaving it on a coffee table will likely be overlooked because it is uninteresting and unlikely to contain anything special, but we can divert their attention away from it even more by placing a beer mug full of common coins right next to it.

In the next phase of the search their attention turns to storage spaces and interesting containers. Because there are more containers to search they will prioritize and inspect the most interesting containers first such as a closet, drawers, briefcase, suitcase, gun case, ammunition box, and decorated boxes. Each time the home invader accesses and inspects a storage space or container they will apply the three-part rule to prioritize their search. Regardless of how deep their search takes them they continue to follow the same rule.

It can sometimes be wise to hide certain “give-away” objects in easy-to-find places. Humans tend to look harder when their search produces little results, but home invaders are apt to call off a search once they found enough interesting things.

We’d like them to leave with nothing, but sometimes (mostly in the case of thieves) it would be better to have them leave early with an armload of minor and insignificant objects than to risk a prolonged search which exposes the things we really don’t want them to find. Take care, however, not to give them cause to prolong a search. For example, having an empty handgun box in the closet will inspire them to continue looking for that handgun.

Eventually, the most interesting containers will have been searched and their focus will shift to less-obvious containers which still hold promise of something interesting. Examples include mattresses, couch cushions, toilet tanks, and shoe boxes. They will continue to disregard dull and boring containers which are unlikely to contain something of interest, such as a toothpaste box or bottle of shampoo. A home likely has hundreds if not thousands of uninteresting containers, everything from sugar packets to garment pockets, so these things will probably not be inspected very closely, if at all.

There is no perfect hiding place as everything can be found with enough search time, but time is something home invaders do not have in excess. With that in mind, our goals should be to disguise things so they appear to be uninteresting and/or hide things in the most uninteresting and unlikely places while hoping their search time runs out before certain objects are discovered.

As a home invader works his way through a house the pantry is one of the last places to be searched. They will search for the most interesting objects and containers first which could include storage tubs, but very few people will take the time to carefully inspect each and every can of food. There are simply too many of them, they are not interesting, and it is unlikely a sealed can of food contains anything but food inside of it.

We can take advantage of that reasoning by using a can to hide small objects such as gold, jewelry, cash, bullets, etc. First, shop for a can of solid food (e.g. refried beans, cranberry sauce) which meets your size specifications, but is not a brand or food product you would normally consume. After carefully removing the label from a can of food use it as a template to cut out an identical-sized piece of thin yet firm and flexible cardboard.

Next, place the can on the work space so it can roll freely and cut it in half using a hack saw (take care not to bend the can!). After discarding the contents and washing the two halves of the can, insert the piece of cardboard into one half of the can and cover it with the other half of the can. The cardstock is the same size as the label so it should fit almost perfectly inside the can to serve as an inner support wall for both can halves.

Tightly pack objects inside the can while taking care to match the original weight of the product, seal it with strong tape, and carefully glue the original label back on to the can. Place it near the back of the pantry along with dozens of other cans of food to hide it. Because it is sealed at top and bottom and doesn’t make noise when shaken it will look and feel just like any other can of food. Yet, the owner will be able to identify by sight which can contains his valuables.

Hiding things under the floor boards is somewhat common but few searchers have the time to thoroughly investigate that possibility. However, these places can be searched rapidly with metal detectors so it’s not a great idea for hiding firearms, ammunition, coins, and precious metals.

Home invaders do not expect things will be hidden in messy or dangerous such as under aquarium rocks or behind an electrical outlet (turn the power off first!). These places are commonly overlooked during a search because they do not appear interesting, are unlikely to contain anything interesting, and are not easy to access and inspect.

With a bit of creativity fake sewage pipes can also be installed in a basement which have screw caps that serve as access points. Even the most dedicated searcher will likely avoid messing with sewage pipes which could leak or spill stinky human waste everywhere.

A cramped attic filled with loose insulation is another good place as few have the desire or time to sift through all that nasty fiberglass material in a dark and dirty place which is likely full of spiders and mice. However, because attics are dusty, they may notice foot and hand prints so conceal your tracks carefully.

If long-term storage is desired without the need for periodic access then the open spaces behind internal walls can be used to hide large and small objects. Repairing damaged drywall does take some skill but few will ever find what has been hidden behind a finished wall. Scanning a wall with a metal detector is unreliable as metal pipes and electrical wires oftentimes exist behind walls.

Floor level cabinetry, Formica countertops, and virtually all windows and doors have trim, molding or wall guards which can be modified with hinges or strong magnets to become access panels for secret storage spaces. Stair steps can also serve a cover for an accessible hiding place, but take care to secure it in a way which doesn’t cause an accidental fall.

Most doors of the home are hollow so they could also offer some well-concealed hiding places with access points at the top or bottom of the door. Keep in mind accessing these empty space areas of the home requires a bit of destruction as well as construction which rely heavily on carpentry skills. Shoddy workmanship will likely attract attention of a home invader to scrutinize something that is out-of-place so aim for perfection when tackling this kind of project.

Hollowed out furniture has been used to hide things for centuries, yet it’s not a very common practice today. A table leg doesn’t attract attention because nearly everyone has a few of them in their home.

It’s difficult to determine if it’s hollow just by looking at it and most won’t expend the energy to do a lot of heavy lifting to inspect or access it (especially a pool table), so it can serve as a good hiding place.

Those who have a large library could consider hiding objects in a hollowed-out book as it takes time to inspect each one. However, this is a fairly common practice. What is not common is to expect to find a hollowed-out cavity inside a thick a stack of old home/garden magazines which have been tightly bound together with twine.

When an object is too close in our field of view then it often becomes difficult to see, which is the basic concept behind the idea of hiding something in plain sight. Suppose one desires to hide a map which marks the location of their buried caches.

No one else knows about the map or the buried caches, but discovery of the map could put your plans in jeopardy. After all, what else does a person do when they find a “treasure map” but go look for the treasure to find out what it is? Rather than hide the map it could be used instead to construct a plain-looking lampshade which is visible to everyone.

It will blend in quite well with a room décor theme which includes a globe and a picture of an old map. Someone could take the time to inspect the lamp itself, but they will likely overlook the obvious and set the lampshade aside when doing so. It simply isn’t interesting nor likely to contain something interesting.

This isn’t a topic which is discussed publicly very often because those who have great secret hiding places don’t want to reveal their locations. Even so, understanding a bit about the psychology and methodology involved can help us find or create some really good hiding places, plan distractions and diversions for home invaders, and even motivate them to stop a search sooner rather than later.

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OPSEC: Protecting Your Survival Preparations

Are you unintentionally setting your survival preparations up to fail? Are you or others in your family or group telling extended family, friends and/or strangers what you are doing to survive the next disaster or the coming apocalypse?

by James P. Owen, owner and survival advisor at Custom Survival Solutions.

Are you advertising to others that you are the go-to-guy or gal to see during an emergency or disaster? This brief article provides an overview on the topic of operational security (OPSEC) of your survival planning and preparations before whatever emergency or disaster occurs. If you don’t take precautions ahead of time to protect and safeguard your actions, all your efforts could be vain.

What’s OPSEC?

Operational Security, known as OPSEC, is the process of protecting your planning and actions; safeguarding information on you, your family, or survival group; and preventing potential adversaries from discovering or learning about our preparations. It’s used to preserve our plans, safeguard in progress efforts, and protect what has been accomplished. Your overall success will depend upon secrecy so that others cannot target you during a crisis event. The human animal is the most dangerous animal to confront, since he/she is a thinking predator capable of adapting.

The less information that’s known about you and your efforts by others in an emergency or disaster situation, the safer you and your family or group will be.

Doomed Before the Disaster?

One example of preppers who have violated basic OPSEC principles and compromised their own secrecy and exposed their preparations is the McClung family Phoenix, Ariz. The silver lining here is that their public disclosures serve as a good lesson and a distraction away from the rest of us.

Dennis and Danielle McClung, from the suburb of Mesa, have made their presence and preparations known not just locally, but nationally and internationally via the internet on a host of survival websites and YouTube; and by appearing on such cable channel shows as National Geographic’s “Doomsday Preppers” and on TLC’s “Livin’ for the Apocalypse”. The McClung’s have opened their home and preparations, to include their elaborate hydroponic greenhouse in the yard and the store room of food and supplies, for the world to see.

Greater Phoenix is an isolated desert urban area of more than 1.5 million people, and is highly dependent on interstate trucking and the railroads to keep the flow of food, fuel and goods coming to feed and service the population. In an emergency or disaster situation, depending upon the situation and time of the year, Phoenix and Mesa’s isolation in a harsh and barren desert environment may leave hundreds of thousands trapped and forced to fight for resources. Unfortunately, from a crime standpoint, Phoenix and Mesa are well above the national averages for all types of crimes and have a significantly large number of ethnic street gangs – many are well organized and armed.

In front of the cameras, with the world watching, the McClung’s have openly discussed their plans to “bug-in” when disaster strikes. It’s great they are sharing information with others, but at what cost to their own safety, security and ultimately, their survival?

What Can You Do?

Look at your daily activities from an adversaries’ point of view and determine how you can alter your behavior and actions. Here are basis suggestions:

  • Safeguard what others on the outside might learn about you and your family.
  • Develop and apply countermeasures, which are ways of preventing others on the outside from obtaining your information.
  • Determine who you can trust and confide in with your information – be very selective.
  • Develop a logical “story” that deflects from your preparations and satisfies curiosity.
  • Where you live (your specific street location or neighborhood) and your family members.
  • The location of your “bug-in” or “bug-out” sites.
  • Where you keep your “bug-out” or “get-home” bags.
  • Any issues concerning your security systems or protective measures.
  • The extent of your preparations, weapons, equipment and stockpiles.
  • The physical health of you, your family and group members, and any disabilities.

Limit What You Say About:

This is not intended to be an all-encompassing article on OPSEC, but serves as an initial primer to provide some of the basics and to get you thinking. There is much more you can learn and put into practice. The important take-away is that you need to take precautions so you, your family and your survival group don’t become a target if the worst happens.

About the author: James Patrick Owen is a veteran of both the United States Marine Corps as well as the United States Army and lives in southern California. His interest in helping others prepare for natural and man-made disasters and emergency situations are based on the threats associated with living in southern California including but not limited to; earthquakes, firestorms, blackouts, floods, storms, and possible economic collapse. For more information feel free to contact James at info@customsurvivalsolutions.com.

We are in the process of securing more of the best suburban, urban and wilderness and survival experts, training, tricks and tips in order to bring to you the survival skills necessary to survive.

Check back often to see what we have to offer and more about those we recommend.

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Freeze Dried vs. Dehydrated Foods

Freeze drying food is a process of preserving food and making it lighter, more convenient and greatly extending its shelf -life.  This makes it ideal for survival food storage. Some people confuse freeze-dried food with dehydrated food and use the terms interchangeably, but they are quite different processes, producing greatly different results.

Dehydrating food in your oven or in a dehydrator will remove most, but not all of the moisture from your food (such as in the jerking process), extending shelf-life for about a year or so. Freeze drying, on the other hand is a process that completely removes all moisture, keeping it from spoiling for up to 25 years.  However, this is a process that – due to the equipment required – cannot be performed at home.

Moisture present in food is, in fact, what causes spoilage.  Bacteria and mold require a moist environment in order to grow and thrive,  that’s why you get mold forming in the moist areas of your home. This then means that your food has a sell-by date which is a rough estimate of how long it will be before the bacteria starts to break it down – even when kept in the fridge.

Freeze dried food however is that same food but without the moisture. When you’re preparing the food, you will have to re-constitute it with water (which may be a concern if water is scarce) but you can also eat it in its dried state.  I like to snack on freeze dried apple slices without rehydrating them.  I just eat them like chips.

More of the nutritional content is preserved through the freeze drying process, and it also means your food won’t spoil for a long time.  Plus, removing the water makes the food much lighter and easier to transport. If you are going hiking or camping taking some  freeze dried food along is a great strategy, as you can carry it without being weighed down and because you won’t need to refrigerate it.  It’s also convenient addition to your bug-out bag.

The Freeze Drying Process

So how does the freeze drying process work? Well as the name might have inclined you to believe, the first step is that the food is frozen. This then causes the particles of moisture to become more manageable particles of ice/steam which can more easily be removed from the food substance.

Next the food is subjected to a vacuum. This is a situation in which there is low air pressure which then causes the particles in the food to want to spread out and equalize. The basics of pressure mean that particles that are packed into an area will always try to spread out to areas that are less packed – just like water will spread out on a plate. In short then this is the equivalent of holding a vacuum cleaner against the frozen food, which is enough to draw out the moisture.

The freeze dried food is then immediately packed in an air tight container which prevents the food from re-absorbing environmental moisture, and adds an extra layer of protection against bacteria.

– Admin

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Disaster Prep Plan Tips:

  1. Gather information: Become informed about hazards that can affect the region where you live. Find out if your community has warning signals and/or evacuation plans.
  2. Assemble a Preparedness Kit: Make sure you have enough food and water to provide for your family for two weeks; Custom Survival Solutionscustom-built survival packs are perfect for this. Additionally, you’ll want to add things like medication, first aid supplies, water filters, heat sources, clothing, blankets, and temporary shelter.
  3. Setup a Family Plan: Choose a place outside your home but nearby to meet in case of an emergency. Choose a secondary meeting location away from your neighborhood in case you can’t get home. Select a friend or relative who lives out-of-state as your “family check-in contact”.
  4. Prepare Your Home: Post emergency telephone numbers by phones, and teach children when and how to call 911. Install and maintain smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Store important family documents on a flash drive or in waterproof containers. Keep your survival pack(s) in a location where it is easily accessible in case of a quick evacuation.
  5. Practice and Maintain Your Plan: It is important to make sure that each member of your family knows your Disaster Preparedness Plan. Practice your plan, and update it as needed.

With preparation, and with survival packs from Custom Survival Solutions, you can ensure your family is prepared for whatever the future may hold. Don’t wait — start working on your family’s disaster plan today.

– Admin

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Cooking on a Log

In scouring the internet for interesting tips and tricks for survival, we stumbled across this great idea for a Log Stove. We’ve tried it, and amazingly it works as advertised! Here are the steps to making your own log stove.

  • Cut the log evenly on both sides so it stands up freely.
  • Then cut it into vertical segments most of the way down the length of the log.
  • Stuff in some newspaper or kindling (if you have it) into the cracks as deep as you can get it, leaving a wick at the bottom, and light it up.

That’s all there is to it—the log burns from the inside out, and you have a simple, handmade stove….

– Admin

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How to Build a “Dakota Fire Pit”

Courtesy of Bruce Pandoff at Survival Magazine

The Dakota Fire Pit was first developed on the plains. It was used to hide fire, which could be seen for miles on the plains, burn with minimal smoke as it provides enough oxygen to prevent most smoke, and to burn in a manner that is incredibly efficient as fuel came scarcely on the plains.

While the Dakota Fire Pit is a bit more labor intensive than other fire methods, it will produce a warmer, more fuel efficient fire. This means that to cook on, less fuel will be required– meaning more wood  saved for later and less time spent collecting fuel. This fire method is also useful for stealth camping as the flame is below ground, minimizing visibility of light.

Another advantage of the Dakota Fire Pit is that it is easy to cook on and if the pot is big enough, can be set directly over the fire. If not, this can be remedied with some cross beams quickly fashioned with a few sticks braced across the fire pit.

How the fire pit works is depicted in the diagram below. It helps to build the oxygen feeding hole in the direction of prevailing winds. The fire heats up, drawing in air, the 0xygen feeding hole is sloped to the base of the fire so that it will draft oxygen in, causing a warmer and more efficient flame.

Find a flat area where the fire will be made, preferably under some canopy cover so that any smoke coming off may be further diminished.

Clear the area of organic material so that the fire will be safe and not spread.

If a modern digging tool isn’t available, a stick may be used to greatly increase digging efficiency.

Dig out a hole that is about one foot deep and around one foot wide.

A secondary hole is dug about half a foot to one foot away from the fire pit. This hole is dug at an angle leading to the bottom of the fire pit. This hole allows for oxygen to feed into the bottom of the fire in the pit causing it to burn more efficiently. Tinder is built up in the hole on the right and then ignited.

If the wind is blowing too hard and is causing the fire to burn too rapidly, rocks may be used as a damper to slow the fueling of the fire by partially covering the feeder hole.

When it becomes time to move to the next camp, the fire site can be restored to its original state. The fire is extinguished properly and the dirt is filled back into the holes. The original debris is scattered over the site to rehabilitate it and hide the fire site.

– Admin

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Survival Training School of California

Survival Training School of California operates a 100% practical skills based program with an emphasis on real world application. They teach what works; no gimmicks, no paramilitary slant, no “meditation exercises”, and no “sit and suffer” training… in other words: no fluff.

They approach their courses as “life-safety” training and the focus is much more on information than entertainment. They run knowledge intensive, full immersion courses, and students train in the outdoors in all weather conditions while sleeping in actual survival shelters.

They build your proficiency through; the direct harvesting of wild materials, hands on training, and critical thinking development. At S.T.S.C their only goal is to build your skills, that’s why they gaurantee small class sizes and full instructor access. This is why more and more outdoor professionals, military personnel, and those interested in true life saving skills are choosing S.T.S.C.

– Admin