Editor’s Note: Tim MacWelch is New York Times Best-Selling author of Prepare for Anything and is the survival writer at Outdoor Life.
Father, husband, author, teacher, and perpetual student? There are a lot of facets to my identity during the average day, but none are so important as my role as a devoted family man. I take care of my wife and daughters as any decent man should, and they are my main focus in life. But I’ve also been very lucky and very blessed to have been able to turn my passion for survival skills and the great outdoors into a career where I can write and teach – and somehow still make a living. I know it’s rare in this world to love your job, and I’m grateful to say that I do.
People are quick to slap labels like “expert” on someone like me, though I still feel very much like a student. I think we should all keep learning. And anybody that says they know it all is either a fool or a liar, or a bit of both. I believe Horace Kephart said it best, “In the school of the woods, there is no graduation day.” I’ve been an obsessed devotee of survival and primitive skills for almost three decades, and it’s showing no sign of slowing. This love of the outdoors started at a young age, growing up on a farm in the Piedmont hills of Virginia. Eating wild edibles and learning about the animals in the forest were part of my country life, but I did not fully immerse myself into the wild until my teens, when camping and backpacking became a favorite pastime. While researching methods of self-reliance, I ran across Larry Dean Olsen’s book, Outdoor Survival Skills. This book describes wilderness survival using many traditional skills and Native techniques. I was enthralled. I learned every skill in the book, and soon – couldn’t get enough of the subject of survival. To this day, my original favorite skills are still my favorites today, wild edible plants and friction fire. (though to be truly honest, I’ve developed a real affinity for blacksmithing)
So how did the teaching begin? As my dedication to the subjects of survival began to deepen, I felt that I needed an outlet and decided to start sharing skills with others. My brother was the leader for a local Boy Scout Troop, and soon I was working with kids through youth workshops for schools, church groups, the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and other youth throughout the region. I still continue to volunteer his time, and over the past 28 years – have worked with thousands of Scouts and other children.
Two years after I began working with kids, I started teaching wilderness survival in the spring of 1997. This served as another way to share my passion with others, which I am still doing. Then, after a brief stint running a survival podcast, I started writing for Outdoor Life magazine in 2010. Since then I’ve written hundreds of articles for them, and 5 books. I’ve also written numerous articles for OFF-GRID magazine, and I’m the lead storyteller for their regular feature article “What If?”.
So what does my day really look like?
Well, I might be running a survival class, as I run these during the week and also on the weekends. Or I might be working on a new book, as I am right now. I often find myself researching new things, to add to classes or just for fun. And I’m still cranking out blogs of OutdoorLife.com and articles for OFFGRID magazine. So if I’m not teaching survival, I’m writing about it. And if I’m not writing about it, I’m prepping for the next class or doing some research. And if I get all my work done, I get to go play in the woods, the thing that started it all. It’s a busy schedule, but it’s a subject matter that I love and I wouldn’t trade it for any other career.
Find out more about Tim’s classes by visiting www.AdvancedSurvivalTraining.com
Read his blogs on www.OutdoorLife.com
And follow him on Twitter @timmacwelch