Center for Wilderness Safety (CWS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and a partner of the Wilderness Medical Society, dedicated to wilderness medicine education and training.

Specializing in Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder, CWS works with many organizations, including Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts of America), American Canoe Association, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers (and many more), to promote the development and personal implementation of both the clinical and fundamental skills necessary in the field of wilderness medicine.

A Nonprofit with a Mission

OUR MISSION for the past 16 years, has been to provide education and training related to wilderness and austere medicine, and to promote appreciation and stewardship in those areas. We seek to promote the development of both clinical and fundamental skills necessary in the field of wilderness medicine, to offer practical applications which will inspire both confidence and leadership, and to provide a forum for the exploration and continued development of the principles of wilderness and remote medicine.

Quick Stats

Teaching Wilderness Medicine
Taught Each Year
Taught Since Founded

Our Hi(Story)

Clif Castleman (L) and Phil Gardner (R)SIXTEEN YEARS AGO... two Eagle Scouts, Phil Gardner & Clif Castleman (as well as other awesome folks like Marc Stanley, Kyleigh Demicco, Dewitt Driscoll, and Megan Cady), decided to take their outdoor adventure business (Outdoor Ascent) which taught first aid on the side, to the next level. 'BUT WHY' You may ask?!

Well, we blame John Boshier, then Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 997 (Ashburn VA) who approached his local fire department, asking for a "wilderness first aid class" which wasn't really a common thing then – especially in urban Northern Virginia!

Because he was a Boy Scout, they referred him to Clif Castleman, a firefighter/EMT with the department, who was an active Scouter locally (and an Eagle Scout), and who was also a Wilderness First Responder. This was the perfect catalyst needed to form CWS.

While OA (for short) was a truly fun & somewhat profitable hobby/business, it needed to separate itself from the medicine portion, so that the medical components would be focused on individually.

After many phone calls and a few sit down meetings, the decision was made to formally create the Center for Wilderness Safety (which then officially happened May 1, 2005). Since then, CWS changed from a hobby to a full blown endeavor and has since become a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.