How to Start a Wilderness Survival School

How to Start a Wilderness Survival SchoolWilderness survival schools have seen new growth in recent years due to an increased awareness of the environment and a desire to become more self-sufficient. The range of curriculum ranges depending on the goal of the school and the clientele it serves. Like any small business, it takes careful planning, the appropriate facility and awareness of federal and local laws and regulations.


Difficulty: Challenging

Starting a Wilderness Survival School

Things You’ll Need:
  • Land and buildings
  • License and permits
Step 1
Write a business plan. A business plan should include description of your business, short-term and long-term goals, a budget, a marketing plan and other details that might be unique for your situation. The Small Business Association has guidelines for business plans.
Step 2
Incorporate your survival school. Decide whether or not to declare the school as a sole proprietorship (only owned by you), a partnership, limited liability company (LLC) or cooperation. An LLC has the advantage of protecting your private assets. In most states you can file your paperwork at the state's capital.
Step 3
Know the laws and regulations. Although wilderness survival schools don't have specific government regulations, they will come under several different authorities. Check the local zoning laws to see if the school can be operated on the property you've chosen, and apply for any building permits needed for structures. You will need permits from the health department for food serving and preparation. Check with local law enforcement on other regional regulations.
Step 4
Apply for financing. If you are going through a conventional bank, have all of the correct paperwork including the business plan. The Small Business Association provides loans under specific circumstances and the U.S. government has limited grants available for educational and not-for-profit businesses.
Step 5
Market your school. As with any other business, marketing is key to draw in the appropriate clients. Focus on advertising in magazines that cater to outdoor enthusiasts, and regional publications are good sources, too. Get business cards printed and pass them out at every opportunity and take advantage of free social-networking sites to promote your wilderness school.

Tips & Warnings

Decide the focus of your wilderness school before you write your business plan. Wilderness schools that include minors have many more regulations that those that are training adults.
It's important to know and comply with all local and federal laws before you open your doors for business. It may be a good idea to retain an attorney through the initial process.

Article Written By Catherine Rayburn-Trobaug

Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh has been a writer and college writing professor since 1992. She has written for international companies, published numerous feature articles in the "Wilmington News-Journal," and won writing contests for her poetry and fiction. Rayburn-Trobaugh earned a Master of Arts in English from Wright State University.

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