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14-day Skills Course

Learn the skills you need to live in the wilderness. BOSS Primitive Living Skills courses teach everything from short-term survival skills like fire and shelter, to the skills you need to thrive long-term: edible plants, trapping, hide tanning, pottery, and more. Instruction is thorough, intensive and hands-on.

About the Course

Primitive Skills courses offer the chance for students to devote one or two weeks to living with and learning from experts on primitive living skills. Students and instructors will live together as a village and build and hone a long list of skills. These courses are not physically demanding, but the skills we teach can only be learned by practicing them, and students are expected to participate proactively and with enthusiasm.

The course is offered in two lengths: a 7-day format that delivers a solid foundation of basic skills and a 14-day format that gives the time to dive deeper into these and add more advanced skills to the list.

About BOSS

Since 1968, BOSS courses have set the standard for training in wilderness survival and living. We teach relevant skills in the context of use. We believe that simpler solutions are often the best, and that there is no substitute for first-hand experience. Our commitment to quality and to our core philosophies has earned BOSS its best-in-class reputation.

The Course Location

Primitive Skills courses are taught in two possible settings just outside of Boulder, Utah: the Boulder Mountain basecamp and the desert valley basecamp. Both locations provide students with comfortable, natural shelters (wickiups, caves, etc.), free-flowing streams and the experience of living in one of the wildest and most remote places in the continental USA. Instruction is focused in the basecamp areas, but some travel is necessary to gather materials. Students should plan on bringing hiking boots suitable for day trips that may take us through knee-deep water and over rough terrain.

7-Day vs 14-Day Course

The 7-Day Primitive Living Skills course typically includes instruction in primitive skills such as: bow drill friction fires, basic lithics, debris shelters, cordage methods, basic edible plants, trapping, and basic hunting tools. Other primitive skills may also be covered based in the time available based on the energy level and skill level of the students. Modern topics such as poncho shelters, camp hygiene, knife safety use and maintenance, priorities of survival, thermo-regulation of the body (dressing appropriately for the wilderness, sleeping warmly, external heat sources) and campsite selection are also covered on this course.

The 14-Day Primitive Living Skills course contains all of the content of the 7-Day course, plus additional skills relating to a Solo wilderness experience. The second week of 14-Day Skills begins students being placed in their own solo site, giving each a chance to put his or her previously learned skills to the test while enjoying some solitude.

Once Solo ends, students return to the basecamp and build upon the skills covered during Week One. Skills covered during Week Two vary depending on the interest of the students and available resources but may include: additional friction fire methods, primitive hunting and trapping tools, primitive pottery, primitive textiles such as felting or weaving, primitive basketry, hide tanning and primitive cooking methods using clay pots and a “Dakota stove” and food preparation techniques such as pinole, jerky or pemmican preparation.

Learning by Doing

At BOSS, we strongly believe in learning by doing. While at times, instruction will be done in lecture format, it will be done in the field where students can see what they are learning in situ and can practice their skills in a natural environment. BOSS course enrollment is designed to provide each course with a student-teacher ratio conducive to hands-on instruction. Our courses typically have 9-12 students and 3 staff. This ensures that our staff are available to students to help guide them through the lessons as needed or sought.

Health and Safety

BOSS requires that all Primitive Living Skills course applicants undergo a complete physical examination and receive their physician’s approval in writing prior to final acceptance on the course.

Please keep in mind, despite your physician’s approval and BOSS’s acceptance of you on the course, there are no guarantees.  Health and participation risks (inherent and otherwise) remain. It’s up to you and your physician to determine if a BOSS course is an appropriate choice. All participants must be aware of these risks and embrace them. Please contact us if you have any questions.


The minimum age for all BOSS courses is 18.