Wilderness Survival Institute (WSI)

Founded in 1970 by outdoor educator Papa Bear Whitmore, WSI is an educational and consulting service that teaches "modern-methods" of survival techniques for anyone venturing into the wilderness. Our focus is wilderness and cold-weather survival, stressing backcountry medical condition recognition and prevention; the importance of attitude to, and the psychological aspects of survival.

There are three main schools of thought on survival:

  1. Military-type of survival - the type taught to pilots and combat soldiers. This does not have much of a place in the hikers, campers or hunters world in the US. Stop and think how many people know when a military aircraft goes down, and the military Search and Rescue apparatus that is in place and functioning almost immediately.

  2. Primitive Survival - The primitive-style is a LIFESTYLE...living off of the land, being able to identify, on-sight, hundreds of plants and knowing their nutritional and medicinal abilities; acquiring meat without the use of firearms or even a bow & arrow; fire building without matches or modern appliances.
  3. Sound difficult to learn? Not really! But as we stated, this is a LIFESTYLE, it takes dedication beyond modern, specialized man's belief to become adept enough at these skills to have your life depend on them for your survival in an emergency situation. It is a fascinating learning experience for anyone willing to try it, and we HIGHLY recommend trying it... but, we do not teach it. It cannot be taught in an afternoon, a weekend or even a week. You can learn many basic principals in that time, but you are weeks and months (and in some skills, YEARS) of practice away from proficiency.

  4. Modern Methods - This is the reason we have been around as an organization for over 25 years. Prior to World War II, most Americans had a remarkable level of self-sufficiency compared to today's "modern" and "sophisticated" society. An ever increasing level of affluence, combined with more and more leisure time, modern roads and automobiles, drew millions to take up camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. These modern-Americans began dying, in increasing numbers, year after year, for no other reason than ignorance. Ignorance of once basic skills.

Our survival kits and methods have been tested and proven in such varied areas as on the arctic circle, during work on the Alaskan pipeline project; to the desert southwest, with the US Border Patrol.

Our regular clients include everyone from:

  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Colorado Department of Transportation
  • Drug Enforcement Agency Pilots
  • Flight for Life Medical Groups
  • Oil & Gas Exploration Teams
  • Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts
  • University Groups
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Civic Groups
  • Search & Rescue Teams
  • School Children & Educators
  • Independent Groups
  • Military Groups
  • Business Organizations

and numerous other federal, state, county, and municipal agencies.