For nearly most of my adult life and even into my youth, I have been involved with some aspect of survival. Either teaching, doing, reading, experimenting, discussing or learning; but the topic of "survival" has been a constant. Here's the issue in this day and age, survival experts. I find it pretty amazing the number of people who are self proclaimed or designated experts in survival. I consider myself nothing of the sort, but realize with time and effort, certain proficiency surfaces, but never an expertise.
So, how do we gauge someones level of expertise? Do we consider how many followers they have on social media? Do we look at their YouTube subscribers? How about the number of television appearance? What knife companies sponsor them? Or even their relationships to other people in the survival community? Is this criteria to determine their expertise in this field? How do we determine a if a person is an expert or not? What is a person supposed to do to determine if the survival school or instructor is the best fit for them? How do they determine who is legit and who is not legit?
Here's my advice to anyone reading this that might be undecided about what survival school, instructor or survival program they should enroll in, here's a few best practices to help weed through the chaos and find the best survival program for you.
1. Ask for references. Find someone who has enrolled in the designated survival course and ask them. You should ask the school directly for references or locate different social media platforms and do you research. No school or instructor should withhold this information. Some have customer feedback on their web pages and social media platforms
2. Social Proof. This has nothing to do with subscribers or followers. Simply put, good instructors and programs of survival are active in the community. Book publications, magazine articles, podcast, lectures, gatherings, demonstrations, television/film consulting, symposiums and appearances are all good tools to gauge a survival school or instructors influence in this industry. That's the social proof!
3. Collaboration. Good schools and great instructors collaborate with other instructors and schools. This shows ability to work with others in field, mutual respect, willingness to learn from others and industry commonality/standards. No school or instructor should be isolated so much, that they lose visibility with others in the field. This is a good checks and balances for schools and instructors. Collaboration is must in the survival industry.
4. Reachable. The survival school of choice should have staff, email, phone numbers, websites and without a doubt be reachable at many levels. Their should never be no time when questions are not answered or information supplied. For smaller schools like mine, it can be difficult, but their are ways to maintain contact. No survival school or instructor is that awesome in life that they can't respond to an email, social media post or text. Reach out and get the answers to your questions!
That's it! Very basic and easy to do an all levels. If you run into issues, go to another school or instructor cadre. In the 30 minutes I typed this post, I chatted through text with a friend in Utah about an upcoming back country survival event, had one person signup for a Three Day Primitive Skills Journey in August, and answered a few questions from my Instagram page about making Nut Flour Ash Cakes. The survival industry is my life and for many others its theirs. For all of us we really don't consider ourselves experts, but really lifelong learners. Use these best practices to separate through the "experts" when picking the right school, but don't overlook the little guy because we all start at the bottom. See you in the bush!