About Us

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.

California Survival School Mexico 2015 - About Us

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 and modern 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”.

Leadership Profile

Dan Baird – Head Instructor


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.
As Head Instructor of the largest survival training school in the U.S., Dan is responsible for programs training an average of 4k+ persons annually in wilderness and urban survival skills.
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.

Catch Team CSS on Good Morning America here.

Michael Baird – Instructor

Mike Baird CASS ProfileMichael Baird is and Eagle Scout, a certified Wilderness EMT, and seasoned back-country primitive survival guide working throughout Arizona, Utah, and California. Micheal first began teaching the public 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 tall ship 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 – Specialist Instructor And Survival Legend

IMG_7762A 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 and Castaway with Tom Hanks.
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 through Copper Canyon 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.

Reza AllahBakhshi – Instructor

Reza Bio Photo - California Survival ShcoolReza 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.

Matt Graham – Lead Instructor

Matt Graham Bio Photo - California Survival ShcoolMatt Graham is one of the world’s premier survival adventurers and primitive living skills teachers. A well-known TV presenter, Matt has appeared on Discovery Channel’s “Dual Survival”, “Dude, You’re Screwed”, and “Bushcraft Build-off” among others. Matt Graham grew up near the ocean in California by winter, and had a summer cabin in the mountains where his father who was a big fan of Euell Gibbons, taught him about edible plants and hunting. Moving on to Yosemite Valley at age 17 Matt took up Mountain Running and Climbing, spending long stretches deep in the backcountry. He also had mentorship from Miwok elders and a naturalist who lived in the valley. At age 23, Matt ran the length of California on the pacific Crest Trail (1,700 miles) in 58 days. Eventually he became a noted primitive skills expert and hunter gatherer, once spending 6 straight months in the wilderness alone without contact from town.
Matt has been leading Hunter Gather style courses for more than 23 years and is someone who has a unique skill set to learn from.

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).

Sean Mula – Instructor

Sean Mula ProfileSean 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.

Rob Dubois – Specialist Instructor, Retired Navy SEAL

Rob Dubois CASS BioRob DuBois is a security consultant, public speaker, performance coach, and retired Navy SEAL. He was also labeled a “smart power authority” while advising the Iraqi general in charge of intelligence in Baghdad. Rob is the author of the singular book on global security and effective society from the point of view of a boots-on-ground practitioner: Powerful Peace; A Navy SEAL’s Lessons on Peace from a Lifetime at War.

Rob has worked in more than 30 countries, representing every climate on earth, and survived in all of them. His primary work in the SEAL Teams was “special reconnaissance” — the art and science of walking through, and observing from within, enemy territory…without detection. In 2015, Rob DuBois successfully completed a primitive crossing of hundred’s of miles of Serengeti in National Geographic’s “MYgrations.” He is the Founder of Impact Actual in Hawai’i, and works anywhere on the planet. Rob’s vast professional expertise has been invaluable in helping California Survival School build and support training programs for members of the U.S. Armed Services, retired Military Veterans, and other outdoor professional organizations.

Jessica Krebs – Specialist Instructor, Former U.S. Air Force SERE Instructor

Jessica Krebs CASS BioJessie Krebs is a former U.S. Air Force SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape.) Training Instructor from the old school the days when they were simply called Air Force “Survival Specialists”. In addition to her experience training hundreds of Air Force personnel to survive in hostile environments, Jessica is a an experienced back-country mountain guide who still regularly leads recreational and wilderness therapy expeditions across many stretches of the American Southwest.
Jessica is the Lead Instructor for California Survival School’s SERE oriented training programs for both civilians as well as Military and other Outdoor Professionals.

Tamra Dawn Hyde – Instructor

Tamra Bio Photo CASSTamra is a Tennessee native and has been running around 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

Nicole Sterman CASS BioBorn 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.