California Survival School was founded by two brothers with a passion for traditional living skills, outdoor adventure, and self-sufficiency. We are a family-run school dedicated to providing people with local access to hands-on outdoor learning adventures that refine inborn survival instincts into functional survival skills-sets and cultivate an intimate connection with the natural world.
As the only survival school providing regularly scheduled survival trainings all year long in Orange County, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and the SF Bay area, California Survival School is proud to be the largest survival school in California, both in terms of geographical territory covered as well as the number of students taught weekly through our public and private survival course offerings.
California Survival School’s boasts a collection of some of the most experienced primitive survival experts in the world. Our instructors are regularly called on to provide top-tier wilderness survival training to private citizens as well as professional outdoor organizations, universities, law enforcement and the entertainment industry both on and off-screen. Past projects of note for our instructors have included work as primitive skills experts behind-the-scenes and on camera for Man v. Wild, Survivorman, Dual Survival, World-wide Extreme Survival (Japan), Good Morning America, and Castaway with Tom Hanks.
In addition to our normal course and adventure trip offerings, California Survival School also actively engages in wilderness education through WilderSkills, our signature primitive skills and deep nature connection community and summer camp for California youth ages 7 to 17 and their families. The WilderSkills motto is “Ancient skills, Wild Adventures, & Deep Connection”.
Dan Baird – Head Instructor
Dan began sharing his love for the outdoors and primitive living technologies professionally in 2004 as a back-country wilderness survival guide and primitive skills instructor with Anasazi Foundation, leading multi-week primitive living expeditions for teens and adults through the high desert and mountains of northern Arizona. Dan has since lived and traveled in places as far reaching as Romania, Mexico, Venezuela, Hawaii and Tanzania to learn and teach primitive living skills, culminating in the foundation of California Survival School in 2012 as a premier training center for outdoor survival instruction. Dan is a regular expert contributor to survival publications and websites including SurvivalLife.com and American Survival Guide and has been featured for his expertise in primitive survival on ABC news, Good Morning America, and Nightline. In addition to his expertise as a primitive survival skills instructor and outdoor guide, Dan is also a DHS/FEMA/EMI nationally certified C.E.R.T (Community Emergency Response Team) training instructor through the National Emergency Training Center. Today, Dan loves having the opportunity to make primitive skills and nature awareness learning opportunities available to thousands of people across California each year via California Survival School and WilderSkills primitive adventure programs.
Watch Dan & Mike on ABC 7 News Los Angeles here.
Catch Team CSS on Good Morning America here.
Michael Baird – Instructor
Michael Baird is and Eagle Scout, a NOLS certified Wilderness EMT, as well a certified back-country primitive survival guide for Anasazi foundation in the Tonto National Forest, AZ. A verteran outdoor survvial instructor, Micheal began teaching water rescue and survival skills professionally as a lifeguard and W.S.I at 16, as well as wilderness and maritime survival skills through the Boy Scouts at age 18 while working as crew on an 19th century sailing vessel throughout the coastal waters of Southern California. Micheal is also an active member of C.E.R.T. in Orange County, CA.
Dave Holladay – Special Instructor
A founding instructor for Boulder Outdoor Survival School and one of the most experienced primitive survival instructors alive, Dave Holladay has been practicing and teaching primitive living skills for over 30 years. Dave has provided survival training and mentorship to the biggest names in survival television, including Bear Grylls (Man V. Wild), Cody Lundine (Dual Survival), Les Stroud (Survivorman), Matt Graham (Dude, You’re Screwed!/Dual Survival), and more. He has also been a survival skills consultant on major motion pictures including: Jeremiah Johnson, Castaway, and Charlie’s Angels.
A native of Arizona, Dave has lived and traveled throughout the southwestern United States and once walked from Mexico to Utah overland with nothing but the clothes on his back. An expert on living off the land in the American Southwest, Dave also has considerable knowledge of primitive living practices throughout the rest of the Americas from traveling throughout Central and South America since childhood. For over 20 years Dave has routinely led primitive-adventure trips to the Copper Canyons of Mexico alongside the Tarahumara Indians. He is proud to be their friend and an advocate who supports their efforts to preserve their cultural identity and traditions.
Laura Stein – Instructor
Laura has been studying and instructing primitive wilderness survival more than a decade 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.(WilderSkills.Com).
Reza Allah-Bakhshi – Instructor
Reza Allah-Bakhshi is a world-class adventurer, journalist, photographer, and survival skills instructor who travels the world to learn primitive living skills directly from indigenous cultures that still use them on a daily basis and to tell their story. Reza’s pursuit of ancestral knowledge has taken him to study under masters of primitive living in the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, and across the United States.
Reza is a regular contributor to SWAT magazine and other outdoor/survival publications, where he publishes articles on survival gear and tactics. An orange county native, Reza loves to explore the local mountains of his Santa Ana home and has become adept at identifying the plants and animals that are useful to survival in his home range. Reza is also a certified wilderness first responder.
Sean Mula – Instructor
Sean Mula is California Survival School’s resident wilderness first aid specialist and has the unique distinction of being hired by the City of Sunnyvale as both a full-time police officer & as well as a professional firefighter. Sean is certified Wilderness EMT (WEMT) and long-time instructor of wilderness first aid. At age 17, Sean became the youngest EMT in LA County history, working emergency calls in some of the roughest parts of Los Angeles city proper. Sean’s many certifications include EMT, WFR, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, AHA BLS Instructor, High Angle & Cliff Rescue, SARTECH III Search & Rescue, USPA Class A Parachutist, Nordic Rescue, PADI Advance Open Water Diver, and FEMA Disaster Response Command Specialist. Sean is also UC Davis Alumni where he served as head guide for whitewater rafting for UC Davis Outdoor Adventures as well as the Wilderness First Aid certifying instructor.
Tamra Dawn Hyde – Instructor
Tamra is a Tennessee native and has been running around barefoot in the woods since childhood . Tamra began teaching wilderness survival and primitive living skills professionally in 2005 as a trail guide for Anasazi Foundation in the mountains and deserts of Arizona. After four years at Anasazi, Tamra left to continue her pursuit of ancestral skills and career development in wilderness therapy as a trail guide for Wind Gate in Southern Utah from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, Tamra joined California Survival School as a survival instructor and also became the assistant director of operations for WilderSkills Outdoor Adventure programs (WilderSkills.com). Tamra is also a trained Wilderness First Responder and loves teaching friction fire and wild edibles!
Nicole Sterman – Instructor
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 (WilderSkills.com) as well as California Survival School.