NorCal Survive S1 Course Book (15+ Badass Skills)

NorCal Survive S1 Certification Field Book

Why NorCal Survive?S 1 2 3 Logo-Orange (1)

Low Tech. Blue Skies. Raw Skills. Good Times.

S1 Foundation-

The terrible 3’s are how we prioritize the skills and itinerary at S1. What will kill you first in a survival situation, is how we determine our order of operations.

The Terrible 3’s:

  • 3 hours of cold exposure in 60 degree weather or below can cause hypothermia
  • 3 days before dehydration can shut your body down
  • 3 weeks without food can cause death by starvation

*Most lost hikers are found within 72 hours if they stay put. That is why you must always tell 2-3 people before you go on an outdoor adventure and let them know when you plan to be back. With that said, what is your first priority when you find yourself in a survival situation?

—Hint: What Kills You First?—

*If you are not found for 3 weeks, you will probably want to consider navigating your way out of the sticks.

The next S1 course is on April 8th – April 9th. Click here to sign up!

So what does S1 cover?

Shelter, Water, Fire, Food, NavigationScreen Shot 2016-04-07 at 12.21.57 PM

The End Goal: The skills in S1 will give you a solid survival foundation from which you can continue to build your survival education. S1 is 1.5 days and 1 night long (approximately 20-24hrs).

Once you have graduated and received your S1 certification and have your Orange + Black Dog Tags, you will then be invited back to complete S2 and Earn your Green on Black Tags.

S2 will allow you to build on the skills you learned in S1. Reconnect with your teammates and complete a more physically and mentally challenging course that will take your skills, confidence and self-sufficiency to the next level. S2 is 2.5 days and 2 nights long (approximately 40-50hrs).

Once you have graduated and received your S2 certification and have your Green + Black Dog Tags, you will then be invited back to complete S3 and Earn your Black Tags.

S3 is the grand-daddy of our course. S3 will allow you to build on the skills you learned in S2 and take your leadership skills, confidence and general sense of well-being to an unprecedented height.

The S3 Dog Tags are Black + Black and you will wear them with pride. Not everybody can get through this course.

This is an away trip to our Ranch in Hawaii. Again, you will have a chance to reconnect with your teammates and complete a much more physically and mentally challenging course in paradise. However, S3 is 5 days and 4 nights long so there will be more time for fun after we get through the hard stuff (approximately 110-120hrs).

After you have earned your S3 status, you will be eligible to attend our events as either a volunteer co-instructor or a paid co-instructor.

S1 Skills to Pay The Bills

1. Master of the Campfire – Skill 1 – The 1 Match Checkerboard FireScreen Shot 2016-04-07 at 12.28.42 PM

Funny quote- “How is it that one careless match can start a forest fire, but most people can’t start a campfire to save their life?”

Fire Basics-

  • Fire – Produced when a substance undergoes rapid oxidation involving heat and light.
  • Fire Triangle – Shows the three elements needed to produce and sustain a fire. Fuel, Heat, Oxygen.
  • Flash Point – The lowest temperature to which a substance must be heated in order for the substance to give off vapors which will burn when exposed to a flame or ignition source.
  • Accelerants – Substances, such as gasoline, paint thinner, and alcohol,  that accelerate the burning process.
  • Chimney Effect – Since fire burns upwards, there can be a “chimney effect” where the fire ignites at a point, the superheated gases rise upward and form a fireball


A. The checker board fire structure is a collection of little chimneys causing the chimney effect– where fuel and heat compete for oxygen and recruit new fuel by racing towards the gaps (checker chimneys), creating multiple heat pockets and turning the structure an instant fireball. Fire is a living creature and it wants to SURVIVE! Just like you.

B. We are taking advantage and wisely ordering our fuel according in accordance to flash points. Tinder and kindling make the foundation of our fire, then toothpicks, pencils, broomsticks bats are strategically structured to heat and ignite one another starting from lowest flash point and ending in the highest (largest pieces of fuel).

C. Structure blocks the wind and rain creating ability to light with one match even in bad conditions.


– What are the 3 elements of fire?

– What is a flash point?

– Why does the 1-Match Checkerboard Fire Work?

Action 1-

A. Dig Fire Pit

B. Baton wood (see skill 2) into 4 fuel types- Toothpicks, Pencils, Broomsticks and Bats (or logs)

C. Gather tinder (leaves, bark, pine needles, tiny fuel with low flash points

D. Break Into Teams and Execute

Action 2-

I. Run two bats parallel to each other

II. Run two broomsticks (support structure) perpendicular over the bats

III. Create 3-5 layered checkerboard across IV. Run two bats (support structure) perpendicular and on the outside of the checkerboard (not touching) IV. Checkerboard Pencils and Broomsticks across the two bats

V. Place Schmedium Log or Bat On Top Once the fire is going

VI. Place two more logs in a V leaning against each other in the center of the fire once top log in lit.

The next S1 course is on April 8th – April 9th. Click here to sign up!

2. Give Me Fuel Give Me Fire – Skill 2 – Batoning Wood Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 12.30.08 PM

Concept- In the woods, tinder and kindling is not always available, you must create it by batoning wood.


A: Take Piece of Wood and Place Upright Against Hard Surface (Ideal)

B: Run Survival Knife Perpendicular to The Wood and Apply pressure to keep log in place

C. Remove hand

E. Hit the center of your knife with a log causing target to split in two

F. Repeat to create smaller pieces of wood as needed

G. Use wedge to prevent breaking knife

H. Do not baton piece of wood that is wider than 3/4 of your knife (it can break)

I. Use hatchet for larger pieces of wood

J. Protect your eyes and hands


A. What are 2 ways to prevent breaking your knife?

3. Igniting Fire With Striker – Skill 3 – The Fire Starter Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 12.31.20 PM

Concept- Lighters do not last as long as strikers and break easier


A. Create Tinder Pile (or ask Bryce for Petroleum Soaked Cotton Ball)

B. Scrape Magnesium Chunks Into Tinder Pile

C. Strike Striker With Knife

D. Blow on Tinder and Add Small Sticks, Toothpicks and Pencils To Get It Going

4. Fire Accelerants – Skill 5 – Cool Fire Hacks For Pyros9v

Method 1: Cotton Ball and Vaseline

Method 2: Wet Light Magic Fire

Method 3: 9V and Steel Wool

Method 4: Emergency Bean Can Alcohol Fire

5. Don’t Get Sick or Eat Cold Oatmeal – Skill 4 – Boiling Water Over A Campfire

Funny Quote- In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria – Ben Franklin

Method 1: Put Canteen or Pot on Rock, on the side or directly on the fire

Method 2: Use 2 “Y” Sticks and a Pole (spit roast style)

Method 3: Teepee 3 Sticks, tie together with rope and hang over fire by rope


A: Build all 3

6. Let’s Eat! – Skill 7 – Gutting A Fish and Cooking Over CampfireScreen Shot 2016-04-07 at 12.33.47 PM

Concept- Once you know the essentials of gutting one fish, you will be able to do a decent job of gutting a larger fish. It will also prep you to gut a chicken in S2 (optional). If you puncture the gut or gall bladder on fish and especially land animals, you can spoil the meat. That could mean death in a survival situation. This is a damn important skill. Generally, when you puncture a chickens gall bladder or intestine, it smells like… well… shit. Literally.


A. Watch Demo and Learn

B. Gut Your Fish Properly

C. Scale Your Fish

D. Cook Your Fish Over A Campfire

E. Kick Back Relax & Enjoy The Deliciousness

Quiz- What happens if you puncture the intestines or gall bladder on a land animal and how do you know?

7. Water World – Skill 5 – Purifying Water


A. The human body is made up of 50-65% Water

B. 8 x 8 ounces/day = 64 Ounces Is Your Recommended Intake

C. By the time you are thirsty you have lost 2% or roughly 2 quarts of water

D. Salt, Potassium and Water regulate hydration. Water itself, regulates the water content inside of your cells, delivers nutrients and help remove toxins and metabolic waste. Salts keep some water outside of your cells, potassium is what keeps it in your cells long enough to do it’s job.

Method 1: Bleach- 2 drops per quart (32 ounces) or 8 drops per gallon. LET SIT FOR 1/2 HOUR Before Drinking When using bleach (strain to make less cloudy and remove macro pollutants)

Method 2: Iodine- 2 drops per quart or 8 drops per Gallon (128 ounces) – (strain to make less cloudy)


A. Iodine Purification

B. Bleach

C. Strain Filtration

8. Water World – Skill 6 – Foraging For Water solarsill

Method 1: Water can be found in valleys and other terrain features (see navigation terms)

Method 2: Solar Still

Method 3: Trash Bag Or Plastic Bottle Or Glass Filled With Vegetation

Method 4: Walk Through Dewy Vegetation in Socks Or With Bandanas Or Cloth Wrapped Around Feet


A. Exhibit the Methods Above

The next S1 course is on April 8th – April 9th. Click here to sign up!

9. Primitive Shelters Kinda Suck, But Sometimes You Are SOL – Skill 7 – How To Build An A-frame Primitive Shelter

Concept- This is for a desperate survival situation when you have no paracord, poncho, tarp or other shelter materials


A. Break Into Teams

B. Collect the following:

I. Large Pole for Spine

II. Smaller Branches For Ribs

III. Brush and Leaves For Skin and Flooring and entrance Cover

IV. Y-Branch for Foot of Spine to prevent kicking over.

C. Need to cover the floor with debris to reduce body heat lost to ground (Ground is Cold and Steals Heat!)

D. Need to either cover entrance or build fire reflector and fire at entrance

E. Stuff leaves in your coat and pants for insulation

10. A-Frame Tarp or Poncho or Emergency Blanket or Trash Bag Tent

Concept- Use any of the above shelter tops to drape over the anchor line… meaning the a-frame center paracord and tie down the corners using bowline knot, backhand hitch, trucker’s hitch, half hitch and/or square knot.


A. Learn bowline knot, backhand hitch, trucker’s hitch, half hitch and/or square knot

B. Watch demonstration

C. Break into teams and build the shelters


I. Tie anchor line with truckers hitch and half hitch

II. Tie knots in corners of drape or use grommets

III. Drape goes over Anchor Line

IV. Tie down corners with square knot or backhand hitch

V. Drive steaks into ground VI. Cover ground with debris

11. Orienteering – Skill 11 – Using Common Sense and Skills To Find Your Way When You Don’t Have A Map & Compass

Concept- Learn To Use Terrain Features, Cardinal Directions, Handrails, Backstops, Pace Count To Both Find Your Way & Avoid Getting Lost


A. Go out in the field and learn skills from your instructor

B. Demo Your Understanding and Ability To Orienteer In Teams

12. Map and Compass Navigation – Skill 12 – Learning The Fundamentals

Concept- We will go into much greater depth of map and compass navigation in S2. However, this will give you a solid foundation.

13. First Aid – Skill 13 – Cuts, Breaks, Bruises and Shock

Concept- You never know when you or someone is going to get hurt in the wild. Best to be prepared. You could be a hero some day


A. Demonstrate your ability to apply a splint, bandage a wound and treat for shock.

Concept- Learn the fundamentals of diagnosing and treating cuts breaks, bruises and shock

Other Skills and Activities (Time Dependent)-

14. Natural Medicine and Fire Tools

15. Axe, Knife and Shooting (Pellet Guns)

16. Survival Kit Essentials

17. Graduation and Dog Tags

Natural Survival, Tools and Tips:

-The sun at highest noon in summer and 2 in winter is always south in the Northern hemisphere

-Rubbing raw crab apples on a wound helps it heal

-Pine resin and water is an antiseptic for cuts and mouth infections, sap can be applied immediately

-Acorns and oak bark are high in tannic acid but boiling them help with dysentery as do blackberry leaves they help dry up intestinal membranes and help stomach problems

-Fleshy part of rose hips is  eatable, can be made into tea and good for constipation and full of vitamin C

-Dandelion T is also good for constipation and the whole plant is eatable

-Coal fungus attached to dead trees is great for lighting fires and so is horse hoove fungus

-The bark from birch trees is a great tinder, strip it for better results, if it has been dead scrape the surface to reveal the flammable oils

-Put coal under eyes for sun-blindness and snow blindness

grass, sand/soil and charcoal in a sock can make a water filter

-Grinding up charcoal and adding a few drops of water to the remains serves as a toothpaste

-Burn paracord to turn it into a glue to patch a hole or attach an object to a stick

-Tampons can plug punctures or deep wounds, they are also great for lighting fires

-Placing wood over fire removes the moisture and makes it harder but do not burn it

-Use tinfoil to scrape of food from pots and pans

-Stuff leaves in garbage bags for bed or pillow

-Stuff leaves in clothes for insulation

-Always bring duct tape for cordage and patching

water in condom, squeeze into a ball and use as magnifying glass to light fire

-Red sky in the morning is indicative of a storm

-Kindling: pine cones, birch bark, birch resin, pine needles, leaves, birch bark burns when wet due to oils

-Acorn tea good aneseptic and for diarehea but bad for the liver so drink dandeloin tea to cleanse the liver. Brew the fresh petals, flowers and roots and leaves

-Milk thistle also great for cleansing the liver, you can eat or brew leaves, flowers and roots

-Lavender tea great for sleep and rub on skin for bug repellent, but estrogenic, dont drink too much fellas

-Chamomile tea, sunflower tea

-Pine/spruce needle tea, vitamin c high

-Birch sap can be eaten and used as syrup high in vitamins

-Willow bark is good for cold and fever

-Poison needle tea, nutrient dense and contain fatty acids, burn off needles before brewing and harvest with gloves

How To Survive NCS-S1:

1. Be respectful of your fellow teammates.

2. Be respectful of your instructors. Let them finish instructing before adding commentary or asking questions.

2. Rattlesnakes- Watch where you are walking, don’t step over logs without looking and don’t walk around at night without a headlamp unless it is part of a drill.

4. Poison Oak- Keep your skin covered, watch where you are walking and what you are grabbing

5. Fire- Don’t light fires unless you have permission. Don’t light yourself on fire. If you do, stop, drop and roll.

6. Don’t be afraid to take the lead and encourage others to take turns leading

7. No entering another campers tent without permission and in general, please refrain from romantic activity while at camp. Any complaint of a sexual nature may result in removal from camp without refund. Please inform instructors immediately if you ever feel threatened by any attendee of the camp.

8. No getting drunk or high.

9. No wandering off alone unless headed to the bathroom. We do have mountain lions in the area. If you encounter one, make yourself look big, yell loudly, make eye contact, slowly back away and lift your backpack or jacket in the air to make yourself look bigger. If you are attacked and go to the ground, cover your neck and fight back if possible. We have bear spray and pepper spray gun for mountain lions. However, mountain lions will rarely engage more than one human and attacks are rare at best.

10. All activities are optional. You can always opt-out and choose not to participate.

11. Eat our food and drink our water at your own risk. We try our best to provide sanitary eating conditions. That said, camp environments are generally dirty and the risk for bacterial illness or food poisoning is a possibility. Eat prepackaged food only if you are concerned about getting food sickness.

12. Wear gloves when cutting or working with your hands.

13. Have Fun! This is S1. You are going to learn a bunch of great skills, but we also want you to have a great time.

14. Teach your new skills your friends and family and bring ‘em along next time!

 The next S1 course is on April 8th – April 9th. Click here to sign up!

Author: Bryce Anderson – Made In San Francisco (Since 1863)

In 1863, Bryce’s family left Ireland and arrived in San Francisco. He is a 5th generation San Franciscan, an Ad-Tech Nerd, an ex-Fire Fighter | EMT, an outdoorsman and the Founder of NorCal Survive. As such, Bryce understands the importance of ditching the laptop, venturing into the wild and testing your limits. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – V Brooks

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