Wilderness survival is the starting point of a skills evolution that no longer involves manufactured tools or suffering in unfamiliar areas.  We share survival techniques with military survival instructors, university professors, local environmental colleges, and the general public using the same approach.  In standard military survival you are trained to be rescued from the area you’re in.  Our approach is to give you the tools to transform an area and make it as comfortable as your home.  In each approach the first four days are the toughest.  One ends in “rescue” and the other involves a lifetime of deep connection to the landscape and mastery of advanced skill sets in shelter building, locating and managing drinking water, fire off the landscape, and year round foraging and hunting skills.  Survival is the starting point of a personal journey that empowers you to make every outdoor place your home.


The Earth Living Series has been our core series of courses since 1989, and remains our most popular.

The Five Day courses, as well as the Weekend courses in this series, are organized in to a comprehensive sequence of three college level, field-based courses focusing on the practical, hands on skills of living in the North Woods. Our ancestors depended upon in-depth primitive skills as the primary knowledge of our species. During these immersion programs we will introduce you to each skill through explanation and demonstration. From there you develop your own experience and skill level under the tutelage of folks who live it every day. By using each skill and focusing on the tangible, practical approaches to learning them, your standard for proficiency will be a mastery toward safety, effectiveness, simplicity, and comfort in any outdoor scenario. These criteria align and/or surpass many of the criteria of the Professional Outdoor Educator as well as the standards for being a Maine Guide.


We offer each of our three levels of study in a five day experiential format and a weekend workshop format at least twice each calendar year. The five day courses include over forty five hours of instructional time in:


-Effective Shelter Building

-Water Procurement/Purification/Storage

-Responsible, Thorough and Safe use of Fire

-Botany, Ethnobotany, and Applied Herbalism

-Tool safety, selection, use, and maintenance

-Aided (map and compass, GPS) and aidless forms of navigation

-Techniques of awareness and maintaining a proactive mindset in adverse conditions

-Instructional strategies for sharing the skills effectively.


These courses are sequential in nature and typically offered in both the spring and the fall. They are separate courses, complimenting each other with very little overlap in material.


Question! What is the difference between the weekend and the five day courses?


Unlike our weekend courses, the Five Day is an experience. You are immersed in the skills with motivation and support to not only “make it work” but to reach a level of comfort through simple, efficient, safe, and effective means necessary. Students receive intensive instruction, but then it’s is used and lived until it becomes second nature. The emphasis is on doing.

Much of what we do is dependent upon the season, the weather, and the group harmonic. We do our best to include things when they are scheduled, but it is beyond our control to put the mosquitoes “away” or warm the lake for water stalking. As such, we make every effort to stick to the schedule, but in 27 years, no two five day experiences are the same. If you need to know with certainty what you will be experiencing and working on at any time during the course, then that will be an “edge” we’ll help you get through. We’re flexible, aware, and agile in order to listen to what we’re supposed to do and let mother nature guide us as to the when and the where of things.


We want to share everything we are learning, had studied, or want to learn regarding the course you sign up for. We always find ourselves running out of time to do all that we wanted or to go as deep as we were intending to. That is actually a good thing. In spite of this, we encourage you to not accept that as a reality until you enjoy working your edge and it completely overwrites the domesticated mindset


Essential Outdoor Skills (5 Day) or Backpackers Survival Weekend

Imagine you could use less than ten items to not only “survive” without your pack, but flourish comfortably for days, weeks, even seasons. What would those items be and what would be the best approaches to streamlining your sequencing of events and techniques for making camp, getting a fire going, preventing hypothermia, keeping the bugs at bay, boiling water, navigating off trail, traditional techniques for addressing injuries and personal common illnesses with wild plants, long term outdoor hygiene issues? How quick and easy could you have shelter and boiling water? What about in the rain with no matches? These are possible and it’s fun to work toward these achievable goals. And these are a few of the skills we will work on in this nomadic multiple night experience. Our instructors will give you the tools, and then you must use them to accomplish tasks, such as whether you will have a fire that night or not. The challenges are designed to work your edge, not torture you. After the “how-to” and demonstration, you’re off to complete the task. Instructors give you enough space to make the mistakes, share in solutions, and remind you to breath and drink water when “frustration seeds” begin to germinate. You learn in a safe, supported and supportive environment. It’s often times challenging because it’s real.

The weekend course includes the basics of shelter, water, fire, and food. The format of share the skill, demo the skill, do the skill still applies. We work as a single unit to accomplish in two days what would take one person four to accomplish on their own.


Earth Living Intensive (5 Day) or Earth Living 1 Weekend

Continuing our tradition of training the trainers, The Earth Living Intensive is five days of over fifty hours of instruction and experience. This college level course increases your capability to make shelter, fire, drinking water and food with little to no manufactured tools and wise interactions with the landscape. We cover hypothermia, concepts in radiant heat and air flow management as well as conduction and in the field preventative measures for hypothermia and dehydration.  You will build and sleep in a fire independent shelter and compare experiences with your peers to identify and correct issues toward a comfortable night sleep. You will learn of the different types of biological and chemical contaminants in water sources and how to gather, treat, and store water for safe consumption.  A progression in fire safety, ignitions systems, and strategies in adverse conditions without tools will also be offered.  Field botany and the historical edible, medicinal, and utilitarian uses of plants will include how to make strong cordage from plant fibers, anti-microbial washes for long term outings, and poison ivy preventatives. While we share traditional methods for trapping and hunting, no animals are killed during this experience. Over fifty hours of instruction and experience makes this one of our most popular courses. It is also the course with the most returning graduates who want to volunteer.

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15 Responses

  1. Cindy
    | Reply

    It seems your website has changed. I am looking for your courses offered May 2015 which are 4days 3nights. I’m afraid I forget the course name. Please get back to me…. thanks

    • Caitlin Horigan
      | Reply

      Hi Cindy, there is a link to the old Google calendar here:

      Registration for Spring & Summer classes will be available shortly on the website.

    • Melissa Hollis
      | Reply

      Hi Cindy, The Spring Foraging, Native Awareness, and Essential Outdoor Skills courses fit those descriptions in May. What are your interested? Maybe we can narrow it down from there!

  2. Otis
    | Reply

    Do you have to be a certain age to do this? I am 14 and looking for something that will teach me to survive outdoors, if I ever have to.

    • Melissa Hollis
      | Reply

      Hi Otis, You could take an Earth Living 1 class with a parent or guardian. We teach in-depth skills for a week or a shortened version on a weekend. We also have 2 weeks of Day Camp during August. Check our calendar for dates.

  3. William Doty
    | Reply

    Hey how much is the course 5 day and is there any before September

    • Mike Douglas
      | Reply

      Unfortunately, there isn’t. The staff is busy gathering rice or working the day camp until the next one.

  4. David Pontbriand
    | Reply

    I am interested in the essential outdoor skills class. Please send me information and schedule when available.

    Thank you, David

  5. Shayna
    | Reply

    How much are the 5 day trainings?

    • Mike Douglas
      | Reply

      Thank you for your interest in our programs! The five day courses are $620.00.

  6. Al B.
    | Reply

    Hi, I would like to participate in the weekend course with my 9 and 6 year old daughters. Would this be s good place to start? Thanks.

  7. Dan martin
    | Reply

    Hello having trouble navigating the site. Not sure if it’s cause I’m on my phone. I’m interested in the weekend primitive survival course. Could you tell me when the next class starts. Thank you

    • Mike Douglas
      | Reply

      October 14-16 is the next weekend survival course coming up. Hope to see you there!

  8. Jonathan
    | Reply

    Im looking for a multi day survival course sometime in early october. Ive checked your calender but see only two weeknd courses. Is there any chamge of a 5 day october course?

    • Mike Douglas
      | Reply

      November is the earliest and the last one until April. We will have a number of winter survival and winter skills courses on the calendar by next Friday.

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