Wilderness Survival

Survival is something we all do everyday but don’t see it because we are removed from the place that gives us everything.  Wilderness Survival was once a part of everyday life.  No matter who you are, you have an ancestor that lived these skills; skills that are hardwired into your 10,000 year old brain- it is just a matter of relearning.  We recommend everyone start with Earth Living One: Primitive Survival because it is teaches essential knowledge that we should already have and is the primer to all our other courses.  The Sacred Order of Survival and the hard skills are also the gateway to Native Awareness and Earth Philosophy.

View our calendar to check out upcoming classes. Or read about Custom Courses if you’d like to see something happen that isn’t currently on the calendar.

Earth Living 1: Primitive Survival

Prerequisites: None

Earth Living 1 is our entry level class that we like everyone to start with and is a prerequisite for many of our other courses. It is an introduction to wilderness survival, as well as, to primitive technology. The order of survival (attitude, shelter, water, fire, food) is our outline. Awareness, debris hut, water collection and disinfection, bow drill, foraging, trapping, and hunting will all be discussed and practiced. If you are interested in self-reliance then this is the class for you.

2013 Course Dates

  • May 31 – June 2

Earth Living 2: Primitive Living

Prerequisites: Earth Living 1

Earth Living II takes survival to the next level and fills in the blanks. These are the skills you will need to live more comfortably in the bush. We will cover debris hut modifications, advanced bow drill, handrill, primitive cooking techniques, containers, several more traps, food storage, and more.

Earth Living 3: Primitive Challenge

Prerequisites: Earth Living 2

This is a practicum. We will drop you off in the back 40 (actually back 23) and start taking things away. The goal is to move you into full survival in three days. The first day your tent will be taken away. The second day your matches will be taken away. By the third day you will have nothing you brought in except the clothes on your back and a knife. This class is about doing it. Don’t come unless you are ready. You must be physically fit and have practiced your skills to perfection. Please bring enough food for three days that can be cooked over a fire with no modern implements.

Earth Living 5 Day

Prerequisites: None

The EL Five Day is a combination of EL 1 & 2 with a little bit of 3 thrown in. You will learn the basic concepts of primitive survival and living in a more relaxed setting with more time available for hands on workshops. For those of you who want to be immersed in skills this is the class for you.

2013 Course Dates:

  • Winter Skills February 27 – March 3
  • May 15  - 19
  • June 12 – 16

Container Workshop

Prerequisites: None

Containers are a major player in primitive survival and living that do not always get enough attention. Boiling water, cooking food, collecting edibles, and storing materials are just a few of the immediate concerns in aboriginal living. You cannot do any of these without containers. We will make containers out of bark, wood, and roots; and talk about and demonstrate containers made from hides, clay and gourdes.

2013 Course Dates

  • Bark Container June 22
  • July 12 – 14

Fiber Workshop

Prerequisites: None

Fibers are one of the primary needs of aboriginal life. They are needed for cordage, clothing, lashings, weapons, decoration, tools, traps, games, and fire making. We will explore the fibers available locally, what they are best utilized for, and spend some time making and using cordage. We will cover identifying, harvesting, drying, storing, and preparing plant fibers.

Location: Delta Institute

Fire off the Landscape Workshop

Prerequisites: Earth Living 1 or equivalent recommended

Basic friction fire instruction gives students the fundamentals to bow drill form and function.  Locating, harvesting, and using natural materials takes the practitioner to a whole new level.  This class will cover gathering and preparation techniques without the use of a knife or manufactured line.  We will also cover the nuances of form required to “bust a coal” with natural fiber cord.  Our goal is to have you use stone tools and natural cordage to create fire off the landscape.

Friction Fire Workshop

Prerequisites: None

Join us in learning the two most basic of friction fire techniques: bow drill and hand drill. Impress your friends with your ability to start a fire by rubbing sticks together. Bring lunch, water, and a sheath knife for carving.

Longterm Shelter

Prerequisites: None

Beyond Survival, we begin to set our sites on long term, or seasonal shelters.  These shelters usually require an external heating source and give us the freedom to store gear, move about in poor weather, and even “over winter”.  This weekend course will start on Friday with a planning session and site selection and culminate in a nearly finished shelter by Sunday at 2pm.

Modern Survival Workshop

Prerequisites: None

Modern survival is about gear, so we will be discussing and demonstrating what is on the market, what works, and what doesn’t. We will assemble and use various shelter systems, water disinfection techniques, fire starters, compact food, signalling devices, navigational aids, cutting tools, containers, etc. How and what to put in a survival kit will be a major portion of this workshops.

Primitive Navigation and Weather Prediction Workshop

Prerequisites: None

Use your senses to read the landscape for information.  This course will focus on skills and techniques specific to finding your way through the North woods as well as how to read patterns, behaviors, and other indicators to make accurate assessments of incoming weather

Stone Tool Bow Drill

Prerequisites: experience with bow drill

Friction fire technology has existed for millennia and is found throughout the world in varying forms (e.g., bow drill, hand drill, strap drill, pump drill, fire saw).  One of the most reliable of these methods is the bow drill, which uses a small bow and hand socket to spin a dowel of wood on a stationary board.  Bow drills were used by many societies in northern climates.  They were sometimes also used by people of smaller stature in societies where other methods may have prevailed because of the effectiveness of this tool (such as in the desert southwest).  An increasing number of people have had the opportunity to build bow drills using metal blades and store-purchased cords.  This class will allow students to take another step forward in their proficiency of this method by harvesting materials from the landscape and constructing a functional bow drill using only stone tools.  A significant portion of the class will be dedicated to various materials that can be used as the string for the bow (this is one of the crux portions of creating a bow drill without the aid of modern tools).  Graduates of this class will have a much deeper understanding of this friction fire technique and will make strides toward possessing the complete skill (i.e., no longer needing to rely on manufactured goods for constructing bow drills).  A vital prerequisite for the class is experience using the bow drill.  The class will be taught by Arthur Haines.

Location: Delta Institute

Cost: $ 180

Stone Tool Workshop

December 15th (Augusta)

Prerequisites: None

What happened to your knife, your saw, your hatchet? Maybe you left them home on purpose. By direct experience learn to find, make, and use rocks as tools. We will touch on some flint knapping techniques, but this is not a flint knapping class.  It is about taking stones found in the landscape and, with as little alteration as possible, using them to make other things such as friction fire components, trap parts, or even archery gear.

Survival Fire Workshop

Prerequisites: None

Having taught many people to make fire in a variety of primitive methods we have often found that many people have difficulty starting a fire when using any modern tool at their disposal.  In this class we will learn how to start and maintain a fire for survival purposes using several of the most common methods covered by many survival manuals to see what really works and what is not worth spending valuable calories on in a real situation.  Topics covered will include; one match fire, metal match (aka magnesium stick), Swedish steel (artificial flint), traditional flint and steel, and bow drill as well as what makes a good tinder, both gathered from the field and what might be kept in an emergency kit.  We will also test some of these methods to see what can be accomplished in adverse conditions or in a weakened state.  Bring any fire making gadgets you want to test out and we’ll see if we can give them a try.

Survival Trapping Workshop

Prerequisites: None

This is a great “dirt time” workshop. We will spend the day carving and setting many different traps that would be used in a survival situation. We will cover figure 4, Paiute, snares, and many variations on these standard traps. No animals will be harmed and all trapping laws followed. These traps are only to be used in an emergency survival situation.

Survival Shelter Workshop

Prerequisites: None

This workshop is for those of you who wish to learn and/or practice debris hut construction.  We will cover the standard stand alone debris hut and modifications, hoop debris hut, double debris hut, and natural shelter opportunities.  We will also talk about shelter location, debris hut components, and material collection.  You will have the opportunity to sleep in your shelter overnight as well.

Wildcrafting: Bark, Plant Fiber, and Rootlet Baskets Workshop

Prerequisites: None

We will harvest basket making material from the landscape and create containers useful for survival and modern applications.  Bark, plant fibers, and rootlets are the cords available to us in primitive situations.  We will talk about the best plants to use and time of year to harvest.

Winter Shelter Workshop

Prerequisites: None

In this class we will teach you the traditional skills found in northern temperate and boreal forests. How to eat and stay warm at 20 degrees below zero takes survival to its limits. We will explore cold weather fire making, food gathering, travel, shelters, and the crafts associated with them. Not only will we cover indigenous skills but also the art of bushcraft.

Winter Survival Skills

Prerequisites: None

In this class we will teach you the traditional skills found in northern temperate and boreal forests. How to eat and stay warm at 20 degrees below zero takes survival to its limits. We will explore cold weather fire making, food gathering, travel, shelters, and the crafts associated with them. Not only will we cover indigenous skills but also the art of bushcraft.

Axe, Saw, and Knife Workshop

Prerequisites: None

This workshop is for those of you who want to learn how to safely use and sharpen tools that you would use in the woods.  We will learn about all types of axes, saws, and knives, and you will get hands on instruction in the forest.  You will get to use some of the old time one and two man crosscut saws, bucksaws, and get to try different types of axes.  Please bring leather gloves and safety glasses.

Canning & Root Cellaring Workshop

Prerequisites: None

Have you ever wanted to preserve and store your own food?  You will learn how to can in a hot water bath and with a pressure canner.  The use of these methods depends on the food you are canning.  We will also delve into how to store vegetables fresh by root cellaring.  If you have a food you want to can bring it along with some canning jars and lids otherwise we will be canning food from the our garden.

Humanure Composting Toilet Workshop

Prerequisites: None

In this workshop you will learn about Humanure Composting and build a simple composting toilet you can use in your home.  Composting human waste is simple and safe completing the cycle by putting back to the earth what you take from it.  It also provides wonderful natural fertilizer you can use for your vegetable garden or on your trees.


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