Training Overview


What is Cal-ESAR's training like?

The training program consists of seven weekend courses across seven months—approximately 160 hours. It is designed to train someone with no prior experience to become a competent field-ready ground searcher. The training program topics include general backcountry skills, navigation, search methods, shelter-building, knots, rappelling, and more.

When is the training?

The training takes place over the course of seven weekends, beginning in October and ending in April. The dates for training this year (2019-2020) are noted below.

  1. New Candidate Orientation, September 28 @ Orinda Community Center
  2. Outdoor skills, October 12-13 @ Memorial Park in San Mateo
  3. Intro to navigation, November 9-10 @ Romberg Tiburon Center
  4. First aid & CPR, December 7-8 @ Orinda Community Center
  5. Search and rescue skills, January 11-12 @ Mt. Diablo
  6. Technical skills, February 8-9 @ Marin Headlands
  7. (Optional) Winter skills, February TBD
  8. Advanced navigation, March 7-8, Camp Cutter in San Mateo
  9. Skills evaluation, April 18-19, location to be announced
  10. Yosemite PSAR, May TBD @ Yosemite

Most training weekends begin around 8:30am Saturday, finish around 3pm Sunday. All weekends except the First Aid training weekend require overnight camping.

You can't respond to callouts until you have completed every training weekend, and training weekends aren't always easy to make up, so please make sure most work for you when you apply to join.

Guest and Pet Policy

Training weekends are for members of Cal-ESAR. Pets or non-registered guests (e.g. siblings, significant others, friends) will detract from the training and cannot attend. Sorry, this is a matter of liability and unit policy.