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’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

  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 for Everyday Life