Purpose of the Maine Primitive Skills School
To share ancient skills and wisdom in our modern context to promote self-reliance, resilient communities, and nature literacy through a deep connection with the landscape.
Our Ecological Ideal
Nature literate and self-reliant individuals tending the landscape for increased bounty. Proactively developing mutually beneficial relationships with people, plants, animals and fungi for the purpose of developing healthy individuals, communities and landscapes for generations to come.
From Survival to Flourishing, the staff and community of the Maine Primitive Skills School are committed to “best practices” in both modern and ancestral educational models to facilitate your growth. Our overall strategy draws from the “Invisible School” or “8 Directions Model”
Our educational strategies include, but are not limited to:
- Professionally guided experiential learning that engages and assists individuals in defining there “edge” (or limitations with regard to each skill).
- Coaching and Support for each participant toward practical application and then mastery of each skill they pursue.
- Explain, demonstrate, and provide hands on experiences as part of the growing journey.
- Use shared story, journal keeping, and performance benchmarks to gauge personal success, challenge areas, and personal growth in a supportive environment.
- “Coyote Mentoring” leads students to a deeper understanding through personal experience.
- Maintain a commitment to continued skills development, practical application of existing skills, and a proactive approach to defining personal growth.
- Cultivation of systems to increase bounty, development and maintenance of mutually beneficial relationships, and stronger connection to what is authentic and meaningful in ones field craft as well as personal development.
- Provide strategies, opportunities, and feedback for the sharing of skills as an outdoor educator in multiple settings toward building personal methodology, delivery, and assessment practices as an instructor and mentor.
- We share skills through explanation and demonstration (Cognitivism)
- Guide students through the skill via hands on practice (Behaviorism)
- After the skill is aptly demonstrated at the emergent level, we bring the students to an off site location and have them share how they would apply their new skill (Constructivism)
- Next, the students apply their skill as a needed element in a sequence of skill development (Experimentalism)
- Once the student has integrated the skill into their routine we then encourage the student to share the skill with others (Social and Contextual Learning).
The Maine Primitive Skills School started as “The Good Earth School” in 1989 at the University of Maine in Orono. Courses were held on survival, tracking, and awareness. In 1993, the school relocated to Augusta, Maine. The curriculum was expanded with new instructors, and The Good Earth School incorporated as a non-profit in 1995. Many programs were developed and taught at schools, camps, and businesses such as L.L. Bean, Barnes & Noble, the Maine Conservation School, and Boy Scouts of America. In 1998, with an expanded audience to include military survival instructors as well as students from a local environmental college, the name was changed to reflect the broader demographic.
In 1998 the Maine Primitive Skills School was founded. In 2003 facilities were upgraded and advanced students became staff. The Maine Primitive Skills School now includes students and instructors as well as volunteers, assistant instructors, administrators, apprentices, and elders. We continue to to grow by developing self reliant individuals in to resilient communities. We rely on this sense of community for our success and would like to thank everyone who has been, and will be, a part the Maine Primitive Skills School family.
Tom Brown Jr., founder of the Tracker School
We must honor and recognize all those that have come before us. It is also important to remember the lineage that has directly given us the tools we use to further our vision.
We must first recognize the Apache. Through their expertise as trackers, survivalists and scouts, the Apache have influenced the world with their skills. Without them we would not have received the many teachings manifested through Lord Baden Powell’s Boy Scouting, Tom Brown’s Tracker School, David Scott-Donlan’s Tactical Tracking Operations School, Jon Young’s Wilderness Awareness School, and Saponkniona Whitefeather’s teachings.
The Akamba of Africa have given us many gifts through Ingwe who brought rights of passage ceremony and cultural traits of a tracking community to the Wilderness Awareness School. We honor the Iroquois for the Thanksgiving Address, the Peacemaker Principles, and the Eight Shields model brought to us by Jon Young, and Jake and Judy Swamp of the Tree of Peace Society.
The Lakota people through Tony Ten Fingers and Gilbert Walking Bull have our respect for giving us the traits of a whole human being and many sacred teachings about the importance of ceremony. Thanks to Paul Raphael and the Odawa for the Sacred Fire ceremony and it’s wisdom. The Hiada, Cherokee, Wampanoag, and Abenaki have given us countless skills, from baskets to bows, as well as powerful teaching and healing stories.
Finally, our personal elders, and ancestors, who pointed the way, showed us the path of the upright mind, and taught us the importance of listening to the landscape and the voice of the creator. We understand that grief is what divides us, and that it is not the color of your skin, but the way you live your life that makes you a whole human being. We thank our teachers for their dedication and vision. The following is a list of elders who have personally passed on wisdom to at least one member of our Medicine Council. There are many teachers on the path of life, so if we have forgotten any, please forgive us, Tom Brown, Jr., Bob Doyle, Bob Ekhart, Dan Gardoqui, Ingwe, Leonard Jacobs, Arny Neptune, Craig Ratzat, Paul Raphael, Nancy Reitze, Ray Reitze, Kevin Reeve, Paul Rezendes, David Scott-Donlan, Tony Ten Fingers, Saponkniona Whitefeather, Charles Worsham, and Jon Young.