WilderSkills is a youth outdoor education program, founded as a branch of California Survival School, that helps kids and teens connect with the wild and become outdoor adventure capable through developing both modern and traditional wilderness living and guiding skills.
Founded in 2013 by Dan Baird and Laura Stein, Wilderskills programs cover a range of skills, from fire-by-friction and traditional navigation, to ancient crafts and techniques for making tools and blending into the woods. Our programs are divided into three aspects – Ancient Skills, Wild Adventure, Deep Connection.
Wilderskills is based in California. Summer camp programs take place at multiple locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Saratoga, Redwood City, and Livermore California. See course pages for more details.
In 2013, Dan formed WilderSkills with a mission to provide youth with nature connection opportunities and outdoors skills that will last a lifetime.
Dan Baird is one of the world’s leading Back-country Primitive Survival Experts and Guides.
Dan regularly travels and lead’s survival training and exploration trips to some of the most remote and hostile places on earth.
In addition to being a leading back-country primitive survival guide, Dan is also a certified Medical Wilderness First Responder, a FEMA/DHS trained National C.E.R.T. Instructor, and a member/trainer of Law Enforcement Search and Rescue (SAR) teams across California.
Dan has been featured for his remote guiding and survival expertise in the media with National Geographic, History Channel, Forbes, Good Morning America, and many more.
Laura has been studying and instructing primitive wilderness survival more than 15 years and is highly experienced at working with youth and families in outdoor settings. Her approach in teaching primitive skills and nature awareness draws on Tom Brown, Jr. and Jon Young’s Coyote Mentoring principles of questioning, storytelling, and adventuring, to inspire students towards seeking out their own nature experiences. In addition to sharing her primitive skills expertise as an instructor for California Survival School, Laura is also a Wilderness EMT and holds degrees in Tourism & Hospitality Management and Environmental Studies from Temple University. She is also proud to be a co-founder of WilderSkills youth adventure programs.
Born and raised barefoot on the North Short of Oahu, Nikki Sterman grew up with a deep love and respect for natural spaces and traditional living skills. In 2011, Nikki moved to the mainland to work as a licensed primitive skills instructor and back-country guide in the Tonto National Forest for the ANASAZI Foundation. It was in the desert that Nikki truly developed her passion for teaching primitive living skills, as well as plant medicine. After years of teaching experiential survival skills on the trail at ANASAZI, Nikki attended the SouthWest Institute of Healing Arts for formal study in Western Herbalism. Nikki now works as an Herbalist in Long Beach, CA, and is a primitive living skills instructor for both the WilderSkills Outdoor Adventure programs as well as California Survival School.
Track a fox, navigate by the stars, breathe fire to life, and make tools from only natural materials. Students at WilderSkills develop a strong connection to outdoor spaces and the ability to meet basic living needs wherever they are through hands-on exposure primitive living technologies and nature awareness practices. Learning these skills prepares students for a lifetime of rich outdoor experiences.
When creativity fueled know-how turns sticks and rocks into the functional basis for building anything, adventure chases boredom outside in a hurry! New awareness helps to completely transform sterile outdoor experiences into regular and meaningful family adventures. Our challenging courses push students to build confidence, trust, and to combat fear while experiencing the exciting wild unknown.
Balance out modern tech-life overload with nature-based activities that positively impact mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Consistent, meaningful connection with wild outdoor spaces will not only spark creativity and imagination, it reduces symptoms of depression, ADHD, bullying, and obesity, and increases levels of self-confidence, cooperation, reasoning and observation skills, and overall fitness.