Boulder Outdoor Survival School

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The Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS) is the oldest outdoor survival school in the world.[1] BOSS is based in the small town of Boulder, Utah, where it has operated since 1968. In 1994, BOSS opened a marketing office in Boulder, Colorado. BOSS' president and CEO is Josh Bernstein, former host of The History Channel's Digging for the Truth.


BOSS was conceived in 1968 by Larry Dean Olsen, author of Outdoor Survival Skills. Olsen felt that our modern lifestyle had dulled our ability to adapt to harsh conditions, and created a wilderness program to challenge participants both mentally and physically. BOSS was incorporated as a private business in Boulder, Utah by Doug Nelson in 1980.

In 1985, BOSS was taken over by David and Paula Wescott. They expanded the program to teach the skills of the local Puebloan cultures, and hired instructors with an appreciation of their history.

In 1994, BOSS alum and former staff member Josh Bernstein returned as Marketing and Administrative Director, opening a new office in Boulder, Colorado. Bernstein restructured BOSS to include a more pronounced emphasis on traditional cultures, attracting greater media attention.[2] Bernstein became CEO/owner of BOSS in 1997.

In 2014, Josh passed the company to the then Program Director Steve Dessigner.[3] The Boulder, CO office was closed and all administrative functions were moved back to Utah.


The BOSS philosophy is to teach with technique, not technology. In the field course, a BOSS staple since 1968, participants carry no tents, sleeping bags, stoves or backpacks, and carry little more than a knife, a poncho, and the clothes on their backs. BOSS believes in traveling light and becoming part of the wilderness. Field courses last 7 days, 14 days or 28 days.


In July 2006, Dave Buschow, a participant in one of BOSS' field courses died of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.[4] A lawsuit was filed by the participant's family in May, 2007, and was settled in November, 2007.[5] There is a website,, dedicated to Dave's memory

See also[edit]


  1. ^ About BOSS Archived May 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "BOSS in the News" Archived May 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hiker Dies Of Thirst With Water All Around
  5. ^ "David Buschow Case Resolved" Archived September 18, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°54′32″N 111°25′25″W / 37.90889°N 111.42361°W / 37.90889; -111.42361