• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Happy Birthday Survival Common Sense: Why I started a survival blog that has lasted 15 years

597 400 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

In the wilderness survival industry, the average lifespan of a website is about 18 months. Survival Common Sense has been around for 15 years in October.

Here is the “why” of that continued success. And thank you, thank you, thank you! to everyone who has supported SCS over the years! 

by Leon Pantenburg

SurvivalCommonSense.com was in the development stage long before anyone ever heard of the internet, reality TV shows or preppers. My wildest dreams never included editing a wilderness survival website.

best outdoors pants, Tru Spec, tactical pants

Big River Wild Adventures is the SCS survival skills school on the lower Mississippi River.

But sometimes, somehow, you get used to be a vehicle for something that needs to be said. All my life experiences, interests and aspirations came together with a resounding interaction and connection on this website.

I don’t claim to be a survival expert. Before I retired from my day job in November, 2017, I was an instructor/mentor for communications students at Central Oregon Community College, in Bend, Oregon. I spent most of my career as a journalist, writing feature stories about interesting people and places. For years I was an investigative reporter.

In 2006, I was working for The Bulletin in Bend. Within a one-month period, two people died of hypothermia after getting lost in the back country. Subsequently, I was given an investigative assignment that would result in a winter survival guide for Central Oregon.

The research opened my eyes. I couldn’t believe the misinformation and just plain “fake news” and articles that were promoted as fact. As a result of my writing and research, the Bulletin published a Winter Survival Guide in 2007. The guide went over very well, and received several journalism awards.

I have been an outdoor enthusiast as long as I can remember, and for 17 years was a Boy Scout leader and Girl Scout volunteer. In those capacities, I helped teach survival and various wilderness skills. I did it for fun, and never thought about how my teaching skills might later be important.

Leon's snow cave

I love winter camping and making snow shelters!

After one session, a parent commented:

“You need to have a website, so we can get more information. What you teach is so simple and easy. The way you teach survival is just common sense.” (At that instant, I knew I had the title for something.)

Also, I was getting increasingly concerned about the proliferation of “survival” shows on TV. While the shows did get people interested in the concept of survival, most of them sacrifice valid information for higher ratings. Some of the participants’ shenanigans are dangerous, and provided a very bad role model for inexperienced viewers.

My wife, Debbie, got tired of hearing me rant and rave about dangerous advice, non-realistic programming and charlatan survival instructors. She lined up the initial website, and Debbie’s comment  was essentially “Put up or shut up.” So, I stopped ranting and started writing.

SurvivalCommonSense.com, came online in 2009, a few months after my middle son died of cancer. It was a grievous period and I buried my head into writing. It was a way to focus my thoughts and, hopefully, to help keep someone else’s family from suffering a tragedy.

Initially, the SCS website was intended to only be a resource for scout volunteers, and I didn’t imagine it would attract many people. The first day online, the site got about five views. Then things took off. Like a rocket. Within a few weeks, I was corresponding with a world-wide audience.

To my continued amazement and appreciation, people from all over the world follow the site, and now SCS gets thousands of page views daily and has reached millions of people. (The YouTube page has more than 388 videos,  with nearly 10 million views.)

In 2017, my wife and I relocated to Mississippi from Oregon. SCS formed a partnership with Quapaw Canoe Company, out of Clarksdale, MS to create Big River Wild Adventures. (Quapaw Canoe Company is the 2024 Mississippi Small Business of the Year. I’m VERY proud to be associated with this fine company.)

You can get an eco-vacation and learn wilderness survival skills while paddling down America’s largest river in a hand crafted wooden canoe. Quapaw has been in operation for 25 years, and has shown more than 35,000 visitors the beauty of the Lower Mississippi River.


I’m active outdoors year-round. My favorite season is whichever one is going on.

Here’s why SCS works. I never claimed to know everything. But I do know a lot of experts on survival subjects, and my extensive interviewing and investigative experience means my “bull alarm” is finely-tuned. I question and test everything.

I field test and review many products and items, some of which are sent to me by commercial manufacturers for perusal. Nobody ever has any input into product reviews, and all I ever promise is a fair shake.

SCS has turned down thousands of dollars worth of advertising, because we won’t accept ads for alcohol, pot, political parties and/or causes, tobacco, vaping, dating services or pornography. SCS has been, and will forever be, rated PG. Your kids can come here to learn survival skills.

Read more about my advertising policies, affiliate relationships and blog philosophy here.

Finally, many, many thanks to all you readers and supporters. Your time is valuable, and I appreciate it when you visit the site and send feedback. Thank you for providing the means for me to have my dream job!

Here’s to the next 15 years!

Please click here to check out and subscribe to the SurvivalCommonSense.com YouTube channel – thanks!