Whether it’s curiosity or worry that prompts people to tune in every week in search of a dose of wilderness through survival TV, there’s a general understanding that not everyone is capable of doing what the participants in these shows do, and get out alive from it.

That being said, if staying several weeks completely isolated in a wild environment is an impossible mission for most people, what happens when someone goes through that not once but twice? Such an admirable feat has been achieved by only a couple of people such as Sam Larson, the second best placed “Alone” first season participant who years later would go back to the show, only to make history by winning the competition.

Does Sam’s story sound familiar to you? If so, stay here to know all about his whereabouts, what he’s done since his victory, his personal and professional life and so much more!

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Where Is Sam Now?

While those days immersed in the wilderness are left behind, that doesn’t mean that Sam Larson has left his love for nature and outdoors behind. Since 2020, Sam has been living in a Nebraska yurt, a traditional tent built by himself seemingly located away from civilization, as the pics posted on his social media let us see.

Not only is his yurt equipped to cater for the necessities of his family of five, the home apparently also serves as a basement for his seasonal bushcraft courses through Woodsong Wilderness Education, a company founded by Sam himself which specializes on providing people of all ages with the right tools to survive in the wilderness, learning bushcraft, and generally staying outdoors. Although this teaching facet might seem new for those who haven’t been following Sam for long, back in the last couple of years he has had similar experiences either teaching for kids at the California Survival School, or appearing in public events and talks.

Besides teaching, these days Sam self-produces a variety of helpful products for outdoors on his website, and hosts the podcast Sam Explores, evidently keeping himself quite busy doing and talking about what he loves the most.

Funds Campaign

Even if Sam Larson is apparently doing well professionally, he’s gone through some difficult times the last couple of years, due to the illness of one of his children. In March 2022, an online fundraising campaign was set up to help Alaska, Sam’s son who has recently been diagnosed with Batten Disease, an incurable and degenerative affliction which affects the nervous system.

According to the fundraising campaign, the money collected will pay for Alaska’s medical treatment, medicines and supplying him with tools and instruments to meet his special needs. In addition, other medical tests are in order for Alaska’s younger sisters, who have a 25% percent possibility of being diagnosed with Batten Disease as well.

Given that the campaign hasn’t reached its $50,000 goal, the Larson family has been collecting funds in alternative ways, such as setting up a hoodie and T-shirt campaign which has been fortunately supported by his many followers. Meanwhile, the Larsons have stayed strong during these hard times, just as Sam affirmed on Instagram: ‘Even in the midst of these dark valleys, we’ve learned that it’s entirely possible to be full of hope’, he wrote.

How Did He Get Into “Alone”?

Due to the inherent difficulties prompted by being stranded and in complete solitude in the wilderness, those who participate in History channel’s “Alone” are by no means amateurs in survivalism. This applies to Sam Larson, who despite being quite young in comparison to his fellow season one show’s contestants, had lots of experience up his sleeve.

Prior to “Alone”, Sam had spent a couple of years immersed in outdoors exploration, getting the best out of New Mexico’s nature before finally returning to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he was hired as an office worker, teaching survivalism online on the weekends. During those times described as ‘pretty boring’, Sam was contacted by a History channel producer who, enchanted by the stories and knowledge he shared in his online blog, offered Sam what he considered a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to join “Alone”.

Fast forward several months and interviews later, Sam and the other nine participants were dropped off in the Quatsino Territory, in northern Vancouver, Canada. Though Sam achieved his goal of staying 50 days in the show, he ended up tapping out when a terrible storm hit the place: ‘And at that point, you’re really looking for an excuse to go home, and I had a bunch of great excuses that I’d come up with’, he told to Daily Nebraskan. In the end, Sam became the second last standing person in the show, just behind the winner Alan Kay, from Georgia.

His Second “Alone” Adventure

Despite thinking that his shot at “Alone” had already passed when he joined the show in 2014, a couple of years later Sam Larson was given another chance at showing everyone what he was made of.

The ‘second once in a lifetime opportunity’ for Sam came in 2018, when he and another nine non-winners from previous seasons joined “Alone”s fifth season. The show’s filming started at an inconvenient time for Sam, whose second child was two weeks away from being born when he had to leave to immerse himself in the Mongolian wilderness. Nonetheless, Sam’s determination led to him giving the best of himself in the contest, in spite of some of the biggest difficulties he’d ever faced, such as not having access to firewood: ‘After five weeks, I found myself needing to trek up to a quarter mile from my shelter, just to get enough firewood to warm up’, he wrote in his blog.

During that time, Sam’s diet consisted of everything from small birds to leeches, having less than 200 calories per day, which obviously took a visible toll on his weight. Nonetheless, Sam’s resilience and resourcefulness led him to the finish line, resulting in being the winner of the season’s $500,000 prize on the 60th day of the challenge.

Lessons Learned

There’s an instant thrill which comes to winning any type of contest, especially if it’s a difficult one. However, for Sam Larson, just the fact of joining “Alone” wasn’t a matter of money or fame, but about experiencing many unforgettable lessons.

Just as he wrote in his blog in 2019, the first thing he remembers from his time in the wilderness was to be thankful by appreciating the little things he achieved day by day. Just having a tea made out of pine needles was a blessing when food was lacking, which lesson could be connected to the second one, which was finding clarity of thoughts in the absolute solitude offered by the wild: ‘I thought about my life for days. This was the most critically uplifting, and sometimes painfully raw time in my life’, he wrote.

By now I assume that most of you have had time to watch the finale of ALONE season 5! For those of you who haven't,…

Posted by Sam Larson – ALONE on Saturday, August 18, 2018

The third and most remarkable lesson he taught himself during those difficult times was realizing that challenges are what defined the accomplishments of a lifetime. As Sam confessed in the same article, some of the reasons he’d joined the challenge were to take himself to the limit, regardless of the outcome: ‘if effort and bravery are integral to success, at least I will fail knowing that I couldn’t have done anything more’, he affirmed.

That being said, what was experienced by all “Alone” contestants is most-likely indescribable, but Sam’s words about it are undeniably insightful.

How Did He Get Into Survivalism

Knowing how much wisdom and success Sam Larson had obtained at such a young age, the question of how he learned about survivalism comes up very often. For starters, it’s necessary to point out that Sam didn’t simply wake up one day and decide to become a bushcraft expert, but it was something he actually thoroughly contemplated for the longest time.

As he wrote in his online blog, the first realization that he loved outdoors happened when he was 14 years old, and in the middle of a week-long Boy’s Scouts mission, guided by a teacher who also happened to be named Sam. As he described, the fellow Sam was ‘strong, positive and tough’, outshining the challenges faced by the group with her courage and resilience.

The inspiration caused by the outdoors guide’s example never left the young Sam, even though he wasn’t sure what life would bring to him: ‘I didn’t know exactly what that meant, or what kind of ‘real job’ I may end up doing, but I was eager to find out’, he wrote.

Choosing Between Common and Exceptional

While Sam Larson was always inclined to a life outdoors, the first crucial decision of his life came when he was about to finish high school. As Sam confessed in his blog, his time in the educational system wasn’t the most pleasant of his life, only finding comfort with a couple of creative subjects, but overall having a ‘miserable’ experience during which his grades were ‘well below average’.

As his fellow classmates discussed their future careers, and he was advised to improve his grades for college, Sam turned his back at those external ideas, and focused on something else instead: ‘I stopped listening to what other people thought I should do, and started asking myself, ‘if I could do any job in the world, what would it be?’,’ he wrote.

Remembering his previous experiences outdoors and the inspiring thoughts those brought to him, Sam ended up choosing that life. Sam’s first idea was to become a dog musher in Alaska, but he abandoned that in order to join Jack Mountain, a Maine-based wilderness instructor program where Sam learned everything from collecting food to paddling canoes. That was the starting point for Sam, who spent the following couple of years traveling all around America, learning as much as he could, and even having his first teaching experience after eventually returning to Jack Mountain.

Family & Personal Life

Even though Sam Larson isn’t a fan of revealing too much about his personal life, he’s kindly shared some important milestones of his personal and family life through his social media.

It’s known that at 20 years of age Sam tied the knot with Sydney, with whom he has welcomed son Alaska and two daughters of unrevealed names, the youngest one born in October 2020. Interestingly enough, when Sam joined the first “Alone” season in 2014, Sydney was several months into her first pregnancy.

Meeting his soon to be born son Alaska was one of the reasons which encouraged Sam to tap out of the show back then, and a similar situation happened when he joined the show for the second time, as Sydney had been pregnant with their oldest daughter back then as well, though that time Sam couldn’t be there for her birth.

Business Now

After ignoring traditional academic life, it was evident that Sam Larson’s place was in another type of classrooms, those which weren’t limited by walls and doors. Becoming a professional outdoorsman was the first step before dedicating his life to teaching others what was necessary to survive in extreme conditions, or during short but enduring adventures in the wild.

Following a brief period teaching at Jack Mountain, for a while Sam taught survivalism in person on the weekends, or through his online blog. However, despite partially doing what he loved, his main source of income came from a full-time job as a retail consultant, until he was contacted to appear in “Alone” for the first time in 2014. Fast forward to several years later, Sam finally became the fifth winner of “Alone”, but more importantly, the fame allowed him to eventually start his own business Woodsong Wilderness Education, an academy whose wide variety of seasonal courses cover survivalism to other less extreme subjects, such as woodcraft and bow drill.

Apparently, Sam’s courses are quite successful, and are also another accomplished goal in his career, having followed the call of life of an outdoors educator which he heard back when he was only a teen.

Content Creation

Although Sam Larson had been creating survivalism-focused content long before joining the first season of “Alone”, his victory in the subsequent show has increased and extended his content creation activities quite a lot.

While his YouTube channel @SamuelLarsonAdventures is rarely updated, Sam could nowadays be heard through the Sam Explores Podcast, which as expected focuses on topics all related to outdoors, and offers interviews with other experts in the field. As well, Sam has written a handful of articles in his website’s blog, and has actively appeared in public talks, even taking the spotlight at the 2019’s TEDx Talk event held in his local Lincoln, Nebraska.

On the other hand, these days Sam is quite active both on Facebook and Instagram, on which he has over 20,000 followers combined, slowly but surely gaining an audience on his own.

Will there be future adventures in store for Sam Larson? We don’t know yet, but he’ll surely keep following his passions for many years to come.

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