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Winter: Season of Reflection, Refinement, and Resolve

posted in: Outdoor Education | 1

I have seen forty nine winters as of this writing. Many of the folks who have taught me, inspired me, made me laugh, are no longer here. Winter is the culling time. Nature makes room for the new-borne of spring through the winter months. For those of us looking forward, it is often difficult to see through those long winter … Read More

Winter Survival vs Winter Skills

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

  Survival is about “making it”. In winter, the margin between life and death can be razor thin. For this reason, our survival courses are not only seasonal, they are taken very seriously. We detail with excruciating effort and guided experience the effort and techniques needed to keep folks from perishing in the out of doors. The instructors share from … Read More

Your Personal Investment in Dirt Time

posted in: Outdoor Education | 0

“Dirt Time” is going out there and actually doing something in the woods. Awareness, Shelter, Water, Fire, and Food/Medicine are the topics I normally pursue when I head out to the real and natural world. Some warnings before you leave the ranks of the Chair Borne Rangers and barrel out the door armed with your shine unobtanium rambo knife, stainless … Read More

A Teachers Perspective by Allan Garvin

posted in: Outdoor Education | 0

A few words about the Maine Primitive Skills School……. I have been working with the Maine Primitive Skills School, on a personal level and with high school students, for the past 5 years.  This has been an extremely valuable experience.  In addition to the skills learned, my experience at MPSS has taught me about myself and how to better interact … Read More

Beyond Survival Skills: Going into the Woods for Extended Periods of Time

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Going into the woods with nothing for extended periods of time, even decades, would seem romantic and irresponsible. What if it were not only possible, but that it could be the bridge to all that is real and meaningful in ones life? From building effective shelters, to learning how to reclaim, protect, and wisely utilize water systems, we would, through … Read More

Preventing Conduction in Cold Weather Survival

While the air does get chilly during Maine winters.  Conduction from the ground is the number one issue to address in cold weather survival. Conduction is the active lowering of your bodies core temperature by making contact with something more dense and colder than you. Sitting on a rock, making contact with the frozen earth, standing on ice; each of … Read More

Scout Mind

posted in: Scout | 0

A story tells of a teenager getting bullied and joining a martial arts academy to be a good fighter. He poured his heart into his training, moved through the ranks, and did well in tournaments. After six years of hardwork, the young man passed his blackbelt test. While he was proud of his accomplishment, one thing haunted him. He had … Read More

Reclaiming Personal Sovereignty

Reclaiming personal sovereignty in a nation with more people behind bars per capita than any other in the world, where personal freedoms by permission or permit are regulated for the safety and greater good of the masses, seems like a dangerous and violent call to revolution. It is not. It not an angry call to action, but a labor of … Read More

The Philosophy Series

posted in: Philosophy | 0

The Philosophy series takes folks pretty deep down the rabbit hole, but it is based on creating reproducible results. As of this writing, we are on day two of the first course in the philosophy series, “Reclaiming and Maintaining Sacred Fire”, soon to just be called “Sacred Fire” course. The primary focus of the course is to better define and create … Read More

Backpackers Survival and Nature Awareness

posted in: Survival | 0

Backpacking is a great way to get outside and feel the freedom and adventure of trekking unexplored places. There is a sense of freedom when we set out on the trail. The adventure comes when we realize how much there is to discover and learn when tapping in to that ancestral nomadic experience. When we share survival skills with backpackers, … Read More

Heart Teachings with Grandfather Ray

posted in: Philosophy | 0

Heart Teachings with Grandfather Ray Tuesday, October 20th ~ Sunday, October 25th Sharpen your ability to see the world and to hear your heart so that these skills may guide you through life. We use meditations to quiet the mind and awaken awareness. We spend time investigating questions such as what the roots of our emotions are, how we can act from … Read More

Re-wilding, Paleo, and the Neo-Aboriginals

Daniel Vitalis and Arthur Haines have been good friends of mine for years. While we each express similar views and approaches, our relationship is based on mutually beneficial exchange rather than self destructive competition. Re-wilding is more than self absorbed narcissism. It is about improving the relationship between you, your body, and your environment/community. We each have a suite of … Read More

Inquiry Based Learning and the Art of Questioning

posted in: Outdoor Education | 0

As we continue around the eight directions of the compass rose with our outdoor skills, we move from survival and maintenance to a more grounded position in the West. Here we have learned to manifest bounty. It’s seasonal archetype is the autumn. In the day it is sunset, when families gather around a meal to share their stories of the … Read More

Shifting from a fear based “Survival” reaction involves Nature Literacy

When National Geographic wanted us to do a show all I heard was an opportunity to get more students to the school. It didn’t turn out they way I had imagined. The story we hold in our heads that defines our “reality” is in large part due to what we recognize and focus on. If we do not know the … Read More

Developing Focus through Outdoor Activities

When the brain isn’t stimulated enough to grow, it searches for a venue to engage in, or it goes into cruise control until it is needed. Many children are isolated, punished, or drugged for the simple fact that they want to learn through direct engagement with their environment. Too often it is an artificial construct that messages audio-visual communication skills and … Read More

Using Transitions Increases Nature Literacy / Skills Development

posted in: Outdoor Education | 0

  For the longest time I’ve been working on how to bring the gifts of the outdoors in to institutionalized education. In survival, tracking, and nature awareness courses, we share that the most bounty is found in the transition zones. These are the areas between forest and field, grasslands and thickets, the land and the water. So too are the richest opportunities … Read More

Better Your Skills With Patterns in Nature

posted in: Outdoor Education | 0

From our day camp to the programs we run at the senior center, we emphasize direct experiences in nature to help folks learn. We model the cycles found in the natural world to select the activities and events we share as well as to better understand where the group and each individual in the group are at as they move through … Read More

A Survival Expert, what is that?

Just recently we had a film crew come out and talk about a man who had eluded police in the north woods for months.  They introduced me as, “Michael Douglas, a  “survival expert”from Maine Primitive Skills School. It felt like an arrogant boast. It wasn’t an introduction I’d ever consider. Outside, the idea of an expert is superfluous to learning. Awareness and … Read More

Debris Hut Survival Shelter Tutorial

The Debris Hut Survival Shelter, while difficult to learn, is the most efficient   That bold statement is based on fact and experience.  The facts are that the debris hut, built correctly, is an airflow management system that sheds water, prevents conduction, and provides protection from radiation and convection.  It does so without need of fire, knife, plastic/canvass sheeting, or … Read More

The First Four Days are the Hardest

The First four days are the hardest because you will be transitioning from a domesticated lifestyle to a feral one and it takes effort and understanding to accomplish this.  The effort is a massive and wise investment in calories before they run out.  The understanding is that you have about four days to secure an effective shelter, viable water source … Read More

Fire off the landscape with rock tools

Fire off the landscape using rock tools is a feat that will push your skills to your edge even if you have experience with fire off the landscape with knives. The day started on the land searching for quality materials to construct a bow drill set. Dead standing trees are one of the best sources for hearth boards and spindles. … Read More

Survival Training, Bushcraft, and Primitive Skills

Survival Training is a valuable and multifaceted discipline. There is a great deal to learn in a number of subject areas. Shelter building and fire making are two of the more exciting ones when you’re a kid. Edible and medicinal plants, tracking, traps, and snares, bow making and so many other skills are also incredible useful. Training to learn these … Read More

Why Maine Primitive Skills School?

I arrived at the Maine Primitive Skills School a little over one month ago today to begin their 6 ½ month residential apprenticeship program. It’s been a whirlwind first month. We started off by jumping head first into the skills with a semi survival trip into the forest to test what knowledge we already have and what needs to be … Read More

Helpful wayside herb

posted in: Foraging | 0

Achillea Millefolium or more commonly known as Yarrow, is a wonderful wayside herb with many uses. Yarrow is found in Asia, Europe and North America, and it is even mentioned in ancient Greek mythology. Achilles used yarrow leaves and blossoms as a poultice to staunch the wounds of soldiers wounded in battle. It is a powerful medicinal that has a … Read More

Fox Walk

9 of us walked single-file along the forest ridge, our instructor’s seemed to have something up their sleeves. Some kind of mystery was around the corner… A clear and cold night in early spring, the moonlight shone brightly, threading it’s silvery beams through the forests awakening canopy. A very long string hung at chest height from tree to tree. Like … Read More

Opening Up

I still remember the first time I killed an insect. My dad was telling me about how I needed to smudge its guts across the wall, and demonstrated it to me before trying to get me to do it. I think I tried, but ended up just injuring one, so that it limped around a bit before it died. Such … Read More

Bow Making and Blacksmithing

Apex skills are those that require a high degree of proficiency and understanding in many of the other disciplines.  In our school, self-reliance and a proactive problem solving mindset are critical attributes.  Bow making involves an understanding of tree growth, species identification, wood working techniques, patience, focus, and sensory awareness.  Working with metal involves an understanding of body alignment, the … Read More

Early Spring Roots and Tubers

posted in: Foraging | 0

Spring foraging for wild edibles and medicinals starts off slow and becomes an incredible bounty rather quickly.  Foraging for early spring roots and tubers is an essential skill for folks interested in year round sustainable harvest.  We look at the landscape as a garden to be tended and cared for as part of our foraging practice.  The wild edible plants … Read More

Your Paleo Skills School

What are you looking for in your Paleo Skills training?  What need are you seeking to fill with all of this “stuff” that takes you outside and away from what you “do for a living”?  We spent two decades pursuing the people practicing these skills and learning hunter-gatherer technologies feverishly so we could share them with folks.   Unexpected and important … Read More

Why Self Reliance?

Knowing why self reliance is important to you can help you stay focused on what is important to you and your family in your efforts.  In todays world, self reliance is an unfamiliar concept at best, and an irrational behavior at worst.  There are reasons for this.  To help you understand what is working against our efforts toward self reliance … Read More

Winter Skills

  So many folks view Winter and Winter Skills with angst, depression, and stress.  Winter skills or not, Winter is, undoubtedly, a hard time.  It doesn’t matter if you are a deer or a human.  Winter culls out the weak to make room for Springs new growth.  It wasn’t too long in our own history that we measured our lives in how … Read More

Outdoor Education: Cultivating Explosive Personal Growth

Yes, we can cultivate explosive personal growth through outdoor education.  I know folks who are constantly growing.  Each time I see them they are learning a new skill, showing me something they made, sharing a story about their last adventure.  Some are retired, some are still plugged in to the 9-5, and some are young.  They all have a hunger for life.   At some … Read More

Beyond Survival: Primitive Skills

Jason Wright, 2013 Apprentice Its become common perception that anyone who pulls off the side of the road to check out the state of roadkill, to see if there’s anything useful left to it and then tosses it into the thick brush – giving a moment to honor its journey – is considered less than ordinary. Looks of uncertainty are … Read More

First Fire

Mike Douglas, Director of Adult Programs First Fire. With a bow drill or hand drill, each fire is always your “first fire”. People who have gotten a coal know an experience and a feeling that touches our primal core. The mildly interested passerby offers you the lighter he’s flicked a thousand times. We know “first fire” from the thousandth coal … Read More

Nature Literacy

What does “Nature Literacy” really mean? Understanding biology, ecology, botany, ornithology, silvaculture; is that what Nature Literacy is? Is it something you get when you check off all the birds on your life list? Is it when you get Survival Merit Badge, or your first deer? I’ve met folks who are more “Nature Literate” than me. When they walk through … Read More

Tracking Survivability

A number of times I’ve written that we are only two things beyond our genetics; the environment we immerse ourselves in, and what we choose to focus on in that environment. The caveat is that within the span of a single life time these two elements (each within your power to alter) will influence which aspects of your genome are more available than others. … Read More

Deer Tracking

Deer Tracking involves so much more than following deer tracks. Today was warm and clear and beautiful, perfect for tracking fresh prints in the melting snow.  The chickadees played around us, seemingly wherever we went, exulting in the bright rays of January sun.  I traveled ten minutes to the local Montessori school and had a blast with the students, tracking in the woods … Read More

Awareness: Key to Survival

The first thing that strikes an observer looking at the human body is that it is essentially an Antennae array with a life support system at its core. The nerve endings radiating from the spine reach out in every direction. The design is present in all species with a simple nerve ganglion rather than a complex brain. As a species, as any … Read More

Growth: From Survival to Connection

Why are we fixated on Survival and not working toward manifesting bounty?  It seems folks stuck in their adolescence are captivated by themes involving “us” (usually the good guys) versus “them”, usually the bad guys.  We transfer this theme as young teens to everything we do because it helps to define who we are.  After all, an underdeveloped personality needs … Read More

Outdoor Skills: Why Do This “Stuff”?

I love outdoor skills.  So, when I was asked why I did this “Stuff”,  It floored me.  First, what “stuff” specifically?  The basic Wilderness Survival “stuff” that hunters and military folks get?  The Bushcraft “stuff” that many folks invest their entire lives in because it is so vast and so enjoyable?  Perhaps the Primitive Skills “stuff” that deepens ones connection … Read More

Urban Survival

What makes urban survival unique? In any survival scenario, and every scenario is a survival scenario on some level, one of the key factors to success is defining and recognizing the risks. Once you are made aware of the risks, you can focus on risk avoidance, assessment, management, and resolution. The Urban Landscape has more risks to deal with than … Read More

Economic Collapse – A Survival Guide

With destabilization in the Middle East and a convergence of man made and natural disasters many folks are feeling an urge to do “something” to prepare. Preparation for an unseen Economic Collapse is as personal as dieting. Each person approaches the task on their own terms and each gets a certain, often predictable, series of results from their approach. In order … Read More

Increasing your intelligence by playing in the woods

Is increasing your intelligence even possible? The hardest part about really learning, not the rote memorization of lifeless fact found in our public schools, is that it gets inside of you and changes you. Real learning involves every aspect of our being. Nothing could be more perfect an illustration of this than Tracking. Tracking involves memory, measurement, knowledge of physics, … Read More

Zombie Apocalypse Survival

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse has become the hot theme in the recent past.  It is a thinly veiled metaphor for folks of all walks of life to be able to express their growing uneasiness with the way they see things are going.  In expressing our uncertainties through zombies we can cross all manner of political and social boundaries. The big … Read More

Reality TV Survival Shows

Reality Survival Shows are shows first, survival second, and reality would be a far distant third.  Running a Wilderness Survival and Tracking School is not nearly as fun as learning and teaching at one. Watching skills in a contrived situation heavily edited for tv is not nearly as involved as really learning the skills either.  This blog is designed to … Read More

Self Reliance Trumps Zombie Apocalypse

Self reliance, without a doubt, is the means to a bountiful life. I write this as more than just a motivated former Marine.  I’ve run a survival school since 1989 and I consider myself an eager student of the subject (translated: I don’t mind how you choose to feel, I don’t have any money, and I willingly subject myself to black … Read More

Evolving from Wilderness Survival to Primitive Skills & Permaculture

Go to the window and look at your landscape.  Can you identify each plant, shrub, and tree along with their edible, medicinal, and utilitarian uses?  Can you name each bird and animal, their behaviors relationships and current location?  Are you aware, based on the evidence provided by plant species and conditions, animal tracks and sign, elevation, and drainage, of the … Read More

Survival

Survival.  The very idea of being placed in a survival situation evokes deep feelings.  The reaction it stirs in you indicates a great deal about how you would react to an unexpected situation where lives may be on the line.  Could you accurately assess your ability to survive in a real survival situation?  Do you have “What it takes”?  And … Read More

The Cycle of Empires

Every great civilization follows a pattern. It is a redundancy that is lost to the generations who have yet to live it because it spans multiple generations. It is a cycle that provides important clues to our Nations development and the development and end result of a “Global Economic Community”. The Great Gardens of Babylon, The Empire of Egypt, the … Read More