Customized courses provide the opportunity to create an educational program that meets the specific needs of your organization. We offer flexibility in pricing, location, and timing. Program costs are based on the method of delivery, content creation, and faculty instruction. Courses can be taken at our Augusta campus or on site at your location. The length of the program can vary from half day to a series of workshops over a period of months.

→ Designed to meet the needs of organizations, schools, groups, and clubs

→ Flexibility in timing, delivery, and pricing

→ Practical, hands-on experience

→ Work within your schedule

→ Can range from part-day to multi-day according to your group’s needs

→ We’ll be happy to provide these courses at the location of your choice

Past Programs Include:

Primitive Navigation and Weather Forecasting

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

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Wildcrafting: Bark, Plant Fiber, and Rootlet Baskets

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 outdoor living – all which depend on containers. We will harvest basket making material from the landscape and create containers useful for survival and modern applications.  We will make containers out of bark, plant fibers, and rootlets and demonstrate containers made from hides, clay and gourdes. Selecting plant varieties and optimal seasons to harvest will also be discussed.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Fiber from the Landscape

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.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: half day, full day, or weekend

Friction Fire

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

Prerequisites: none

Class options: half day, full day, or weekend

Fire off the Landscape

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.

Prerequisites: Earth Living or bow drill experience.

Class options: full day or weekend

Stone Tool Bow Drill

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.

Prerequisites: Earth Living or Fire off the Landscape and comfortability with bow drill.

Class options: full day or weekend

Survival Fire

Having taught many people to make fire in a variety of primitive methods we have often found that it is common to have difficulty starting a fire even when using modern tools. In this class we will learn how to start and maerain a fire for survival purposes using several of the most common methods covered by 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 your “survival fire kit” if you have one.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Survival Trapping

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.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Survival Shelters

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.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Modern Survival

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 is covered in this workshop.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Longterm Shelter

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 course begins with a planning session and site selection and culminates in a nearly finished shelter.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: weekend or multi day

Winter Survival

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.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day, weekend or multi day

Winter Shelter

The winter landscape is as beautiful as it is unforgiving. Learn skills that will increase your peace of mind using modern materials and material off the landscape. We will be exploring a number of different shelter options from clothing, to emergency tarp tacos, to traditional cold climate shelters of native folks. Bring a bag lunch and appropriate cold weather gear. The majority of the class takes place outside and walking through the woods. Light to moderate physical exertion including some hiking. We have a wood stove to take the chill off in our winter classroom.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day, weekend or multi day

Axe, Saw, and Knife

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 cover 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.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Stone Tools

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.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Canning & Root Cellaring

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.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Humanure Composting Toilets

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.

Prerequisites: none

Class options: full day or weekend

Backyard Plant Series

These day workshops are designed to provide indepth hands on experience in discovering and utilizing many backyard plant species.  We will forage, identify, and prepare common plants of the yard and edge areas for food, teas, and medicine.  Each course will take full advantage of the season and focus on the plants most readily available at the time.

For the Love of Cedar

Cedar is a special tree, and we are going to spend a day learning about it.  This is a great opportunity to focus on one plant and really get to know it.  We will learn about it from a taxonomic, survival, wood working, primitive living, and spiritual point of view.  If you don’t already, you will come to respect and love this tree.

Healing with Plants, Fungi, and Lichens

Coping with and recovering from illness, injury, and debility has always been part of being human.  For these complaints, plants have served as the major source of medicine.  This class will examine the use of wild plants for healing injury and supporting the body.  Students will learn a suite of plants that grow in New England that can be used for many common ailments, such as colds, infections, gastrointestinal upset, headaches, dermatitis, insomnia, etc.  Methods of collecting will be discussed, as well as, directions for making infusions, decoctions, poultices, salves, tinctures, and smoking mixtures.  Throughout the weekend, various stories and examples will be shared demonstrating how plant-based medicines have preserved life and influenced aboriginal and contemporary people.  Healing with plants provides people and families with another avenue of self-sufficiency and furthers connection to the landscape.  The class will be taught by Arthur Haines (who personally uses plants and lichens for all medicinal needs).

Preserving Wild Foods

Primitive people were skilled at preserving food for extended periods of time, which was necessary for lengthy migrations and lean times during the winter season.  Unfortunately, many people living in developed countries are unable to keep food without the use of modern appliances (e.g., refrigerator, freezer).  This class examines several primitive and rustic methods of food preservation that do not rely on continued use of near- or sub-freezing temperature.  Drying will be discussed at length and several methods will be demonstrated, ranging from commercial dehydrators to the simple use of stone and bark slabs to dry fruit and other items.  Fruit leather, jerky, and pemmican will all be made during the class.  Canning, fermenting, and root cellaring will also be discussed and demonstrated.  Nutritional aspects will be discussed, including the beneficial aspects of fermented foods.  For those interested in living without complete dependence on electricity (whether that be “living off the grid” or emergency preparedness), this weekend will present a valuable set of skills.  Portions of the weekend will be spent gathering some local wild foods as material for preserving.

Three Trees

New England’s wilderness is dominated and defined by its trees.  In this class we will spend time with three of our tall cousins to learn how to identify them, a little of their natural history as well as what we can make from them.  From medicine to food to containers and fiber a group effort will be taken to try to see what can be created from these trees every part.  We will even cover the firewood qualities of each species.  Which three trees we cover will depend on the time of year and location.  We will harvest responsibly and sustainably.  Bring a knife, hatchet and saw if you have them.

Woody Plant Identification

Knowledge of woody plants allows a person to gain a deeper understanding of their local ecosystems.  This one day course, taught by Chris Wood, is designed to give participants a crash course in woody plant id with a focus on the common trees and shrubs of Southern Maine.  The course will have three components: 1) how to use a dichotomous key in the field, 2) long field id walk, and 3) an emphasis on plant communities at large.  We will also cover all common woody invasive plants of the area.  A suggested field guide to bring to class is:  An Illustrated Guide to Trees and Shrubs: a handbook of the woody plants of the Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada by Arthur Harmount Graves.

Ceremony

Learn how to use ceremony to remove energy blocks, grief, and darkness in your life. Ritual is the path to the “sacred silence” or “no mind.” This is the place where you are at peace, heal, and touch God. This is a gift to yourself and the world. If your glass is only half full, how can you give to others? Come let go and re-energize.

Prerequisites: Earth Philosophy