Thrive Outdoors creates and teaches curriculum based on a core set of survival principles. These principles are The Big 5, The Rules of 3, and The 6 C's. These are not all inclusive in the world of survival and leadership training, but they form a solid foundation that beginners and experts alike can grow from. Thrive Outdoors curriculum does not simply teach wilderness survival, it gives participants a simple - proven - method to become healthier in every aspect of their lives, and true leaders in any setting they find themselves.

The BIG 5: Survival Principles for the wild, 

and for EVERYDAY

“Thrive’s ‘BIG 5’ stands up beside Maslow as a theoretical model for informing treatment of mood, anxiety, and stressor-related disorders”
— Christie J. E. Chapman, MSSA, LICSW

The BIG 5 - Wilderness

  1. Mindset Where your mind goes, your body follows. If we are mentally prepared for tough situations we fair much better. Being positive is a skill that can be honed every day, in any circumstance, but we need to be cognizant of it. The tougher the situation, the more we have to focus on staying positive, which helps us to utilize our training and skills. We can have all the survival skills in the world but if our mind isn’t “right” we have very little hope of using those skills to any effect.

  2. ShelterKnowing how and where to build a shelter is incredibly important when no shelter is available. The human body is not designed to handle extremes in temperature and climate, and so, it needs protection. Making a shelter that actually provides this protection is not easy. Factors like location, wildlife & pests, wind, heat flow, environmental dangers, materials used, as well as proximity to: water, fuel, and other essentials – among other things – need to be considered.

  3. FireHaving shelter is one thing, but producing heat to keep the shelter or yourself warm is another thing altogether. Even in the summer months, dampness or a quick drop in temperature will sap the body of necessary heat. Next to shelter (and often ahead of shelter) fire is one of the most important things you can do for yourself in the wild.

  4. WaterThe human body is mostly water. It runs on water and fails to run, quickly and painfully, without water. When it comes to water in a survival situation there are many things to consider. First, you have to find water. Then you need to make it potable. If you know you need to be on the move (self rescue, for example) and are unsure about finding another source of water, you will need to figure out a way to transport it. If you have ever had giardia, or anything else that causes cramping and severe diarrhea, you can imagine how drinking contaminated water could mean certain death in a survival situation. Having the knowledge and skills to find, make potable, and transport water are essential to life.

  5. FoodFood is important. We all know that. It is last on the list of the Big 5 for a reason however. Often we in the “survival” field hear stories of individuals or groups who were stranded and their first focus was food. Rarely does that turn out well. The fact is, in a forest (where we teach the majority of our survival) food is everywhere, though not always in the form most think about. To sustain yourself in a forest, knowing what you can eat, how to harvest or catch it, and how to prepare it are all important items to think about. Just because it is last on this list does not mean it isn’t important. It is on the list after all.


The BIG 5 - Everyday

  1. Mindset Where your mind goes, your body follows. If we are mentally prepared for tough situations we fair much better. Being positive is a skill that can be honed every day, in any circumstance, but we need to be cognizant of it. The tougher the situation, the more we have to focus on staying positive, which helps us to utilize our training and skills. We can have all the  skills in the world but if our mind isn’t “right” we have very little hope of using those skills to any effect. this paragraph is - with the exception of one word - EXACTLY the same as the paragraph above for Mindset in the Wilderness. This is the main point of the curriculum. Being in control of our thoughts and understanding the power of staying positive is essential to wilderness survival. no one really ever contests that. so Why do we think it can be overlooked or left as a second thought in everyday life? why is the most powerful and consistent tool we have at our disposal often second to so many other things in our everyday life?

  2. ShelterIn the wild shelter protects from exposure to many things; The elements, dangers, pests, etc. In our everyday however, shelter takes on a different function. It is our need to shelter ourselves from negativity, toxicity, and unhealthy choices we need to consider. Often, we need to find tools and methods that help shelter us from our own negative thoughts.

  3. FireIn everyday we typically do not need an actual fire. We have heat, potable water, prepared food, even warm showers. WHat we often find lacking however, is that inner fire. What drives someone - What is their passion? Our current society standards have made it really hard to find a fire that - like in the wild - is both sustainable and controllable. Just like with shelter, we need to find methods and strategies to keep our fire fueled without spending everything we have fueling it. or letting it burn out of control. Our work with those in recovery has proven that finding a passion - a fire - that won't burn us out is the most important thing we can do in many cases. Making the shift from active addiction to a healthy lifestyle is an example of finding a new fire, or new fuel for that fire, and letting that light lead our way.

  4. WaterThe human body is mostly water. It runs on water and fails to run, quickly and painfully, without water. This is important in the wild but no less important in everyday. Most of us have seen the stats: No one is drinking enough water in their day to day. understanding just how much water effects us can change our lives. Its simple. But water also has a PHILOSOPHICAL teaching aspect. Like Bruce Lee says: "we must be like water - When you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup". WHen we understand - and become one with - our situation, even in a fleeting moment of difficulty or fear, we are much more likely to overcome that situation.

  5. FoodJust like any other BIG 5 topic, understanding the importance of food in our healthy everyday lifestyle relies on the preceding topics. We need to be thoughtful about what we are eating and why we are eating it. We need to work harder at sheltering ourselves from foods we know are unhealthy for us - and this can be different for everyone. We need to make sure what we eat is prepared properly (fire). And finally, we should always drink water when we eat - or eat foods with a higher water content. Food helps us go full circle with the big 5, bringing us right back to mindset. If we would be really careful of what we put into our bodies in the wild, why are many of us so LACKADAISICAL in our everyday approach to food?

This is a brief overview of our core curriculum. The deeper we delve - on either the wild or the everyday side - the more tools, skills, mechanisms, and methods we offer for all of life's unexpected adventures. From leadership skills, stress management mechanisms, and performance capabilities - to higher self esteem, strong wilderness survival skills, a more well-rounded healthy lifestyle, and a better understanding of the world around us - Thrive Outdoors' curriculum can work positive change into all facets of our lives.

The BIG 5 for Everyday Life