Residential Wilderness Immersion Program

FEED YOUR WILD SELF

Learn to care-take the land while meeting your needs through earth-living skills, cultivate a deep sensory awareness, and share your gifts as a mentor in your community.

FEED YOUR WILD SELF

Learn to care-take the land while meeting your needs through earth-living skills, cultivate a deep sensory awareness, and share your gifts as a mentor in your community.

The Residential Apprenticeship takes place on our campus, which is nestled in the Kennebec river valley just outside of Augusta, ME. Over 30 years of care-taking and sharing skills on this land have fostered a truly unique learning environment for those who wish to dive into traditional living skills.

Experience A Different Paradigm for Nature Connected Growth

Our immersion program is tailored towards sharing the skill-sets and tools of the talented outdoor educator, community builder, and contemporary hunter-gatherer with seasonal apprentices. There is more to these paths than just theory and lecturing; As an apprentice you will gather a wealth of first-hand experience, in addition to guidance from our dedicated staff as you explore a wide variety of skills.

You’ll live with fellow apprenti (plural noun; of singular ‘apprentice’), with the beginning of each session focused on building a lively, self-sufficient community in our off-grid ‘Apprentice Camp’. This will be the supportive community web with which you playfully study the intricacies of tracking, rake wild blueberries on the Maine’s incredible coast, build beautiful and efficient natural shelters, expand your nature literacy with awareness challenges and games, and so much more.

Each session of our Residential Apprenticeship is 8 weeks long; We run 3 sessions annually, one for each season here in the Maine woods. Come for one, or as many as you like!

Our program is full-time; and each session is packed with classes, hands-on projects, and learning through living off the grid. Roughly 40 hours (In a 5 day period) a week are dedicated to instructional time for apprentices, with Thursdays and Fridays off so that immersion students can do laundry, groceries, rest, and explore.

Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one need only own a shovel.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

What To Expect:

Inventory Trip and Settling In

The beginning of the residential immersion program takes the form of an Inventory Trip, which allows participants (and our staff) to see their experience level, group communication skill, and learning ‘edges’ with primitive skills. Sometimes it takes the form of a survival trip & team building experience, and other times it is project oriented (like setting up the Apprentice Camp for the season, especially with smaller groups). After the inventory trip, which varies from 2-4 days depending on the year and group size, participants are offered the choice to stay for the residential immersion, if they feel it is a good fit for them.

After some time to rest from the inventory trip, apprentices will be introduced to our off-grid Apprentice Camp, where they will be setting up their personal shelters and living systems. Our instructors will work with the apprentice group to collectively develop a rotating duty schedule, set up composting toilets, and get camp operating smoothly. With a dependable routine of firewood collection, carrying water into camp, cooking, and fire-tending, the Apprentice Camp and community will be operating without a hitch, and the classes for the semester will begin!

Daily Schedule and Routines

More weeks than not, the school will be running 5-Day courses from Saturday to Wednesday (from 9-5:00 each day). Our classes allow apprentices to dive deeply into the topic at hand; whether it be foraging, earth-living, awareness, or others; and learn alongside students who come for our classes. It is important to have the Apprentice Camp running smoothly as classes begin, due to the time commitment they require. Apprentices may let our instructors know beforehand if they have good reason to miss class time (time sensitive projects, an extra rest day, catching up on firewood at camp, etc), but are otherwise expected to attend classes.

When there aren’t any classes scheduled, apprentices will work for the day with our instructors on a variety of projects, which often dive even deeper into the skills just offered in a class, or a long term project on campus (like one of our earthlodge builds, or food-forest maintenance). This time is especially flexible to the interests of our apprentices, and the options are truly endless! Other times we will go on outings to forage a wild food that is coming into season, visit guest instructors or other schools, or work on specific skills like canoeing or tracking.

Core Program Skills:

A Seasonal Program Structure

Our Residential Apprenticeship program is separated into seasonal 8-week semesters. Each season offers it’s own truly unique set of gifts; We design our program and classes to highlight the lessons that each season has to offer. Here’s a rough outline of what courses you can expect in each semester:

May

  • Opening Potluck
  • Inventory Trip and Apprentice Camp Setup
  • Earth-Living 5-Day Workshop
  • Mid-Spring 5-Day Foraging Class

June

  • 5-Day Awareness Workshop
  • 5-Day Scout Skills Workshop
  • Late Spring 5-Day Foraging Class
  • 5-Day Long-Term Shelter Building Workshop

July

  • Early Summer Foraging 5-Day Class
  • Closing Potluck and Graduation Ceremony

July

  • Opening Potluck
  • Summer Inventory Trip & Apprentice Camp Preparations
  • 5-Day Earth Living Workshop
  • 5-Day Long-Term Shelter Build Workshop

August

  • 5-Day Advanced Earth Living Skills
  • Mid- Summer Foraging 5-Day Class
  • 5-Day Awareness Workshop
  • 5-Day Scout Class
  • Gardening, Foraging, and Food Processing
  • Weekend Basketry Workshop

September

  • 5-Day Tracking Workshop
  • Ending Potluck and Graduation Ceremony

September

  • Opening Potluck
  • Early Fall Edible and Medicinal Plant 5-Day Class
  • Wild Rice Harvesting & Processing
  • 5-Day Long-Term Shelter Build Workshop
  • Earth Living 5-Day Workshop

October

  • Maine Primitive Gathering
  • Advanced Earth Living 5-Day Workshop
  • Evening Eldercraft Series
  • Spirit of the Hunt 5-Day Workshop
  • Hide Tanning 5-Day Workshop
  • Mid- Fall Foraging 5-Day Class

November

  • 5-Day Long-Term Shelter Build Workshop
  • Ending Potluck & Graduation Ceremony

Previous immersion program experience required (Prerequisite of at least 2 seasonal sessions)

January

  • Introductory Potluck
  • Apprentice Camp Preparations
  • Winter Wilderness Skills 5-Day
  • Storytelling Evening Series
  • Nature Literacy Evening Series
  • Mukluks Making Weekend Workshop
  • 5-Day Winter Tracking Workshop

February

  • 5-Day Philosophy Workshop
  • Winter Foraging 5-Day Workshop
  • Storytelling Evenings cont.
  • Nature Literacy Evenings cont.
  • Closing Campfire and Graduation

Although programs are seasonal, a common set of skills is woven into each and every session of the immersion program. These ‘threads’ are the fascia that connects and drives our community of apprentices

Curriculum and Training Overview

The Wilderness Immersion Apprenticeship is divided into four seasonal sessions. Skill development will be primarily through hands on experience, and is directed toward producing a well rounded, skilled practitioner capable of demonstrating and sharing skills in natural settings.

  • Full immersion in nature, demanding daily hands-on application of skills learned.
  • 40+ hours each week is spent learning and applying essential outdoor skills.
  • Performance Indicators (benchmarks), Peer Reviews, and Student Portfolios are utilized as evidence of competency in specified areas of focus.
  • Seven Performance Indicators: (Example Rubric: Fire)
    • Awareness
    • Shelter
    • Water
    • Fire
    • Food
    • Self-Reliance
    • Wildlife Tracking
    • Ethnobotany/Herbalism
    • Mentoring
    • Maine Guide Practices

This experience, upon successful completion, is designed to provide a solid foundation of basic to advanced skills in the out-of-doors. The focus of the apprenticeship program is to develop a professional outdoor educator with a high standard of field craft and a practiced set of reliable tools as an educator.

Accommodations and Living Systems

Shelter– Apprentices are expected to stay in tarps, tents, and primitive shelters in the Apprentice Camp for most of their first session. Long-term earth shelters may be available for those attending multiple consecutive sessions, usually after participating in a bushcamp construction course.

Kitchen and Water– The Apprentice Kitchen is an off-grid, outdoor kitchen that has a rainwater catchment system (non-potable), sink & drying racks, rocket cook stoves, and rodent-proof food storage space. Apprentices also have access to a propane heated outdoor shower, and will carry potable water out to their camp from the center of the campus. We are located less than 5 miles from Augusta, which has a local laundromat, grocery store, shopping plaza, etc.

Apprentice Kitchen lean-to and fire pit

FAQs

If your time or financial resources only allow you to attend one or two of the sessions, no worries!

We want you to have the chance to live these skills. We set up our schedule to allow college students to spend a semester or a summer here, for working folks to take a sabbatical from their job, or for those with financial limitations to come for a shorter more affordable time. That said the full residential immersion program includes Spring, Summer and Fall sessions and we encourage those who can to join us for all three and go through the cycle of the seasons with a cohort of like minded folks looking to dive deep into these ancient skills. Those who complete three sessions will receive a certificate as a graduate of the instructor training program in Outdoor Education. (Sessions may be completed non-consecutively). Notes: Prerequisite for the Winter session is the completion of at least two previous seasonal sessions.

The physical heart of our residential program is the Apprentice Camp, an off-grid site just for the residential crew. It is the center of your community as an Immersion student, and offers the unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of maintaining self-sufficient living systems.

Shelter

  • Apprentices are expected to stay in tarps, tents, and primitive shelters in the “Apprentice Camp” for most of their first session. Long-term primitive shelters may be available for those attending multiple consecutive sessions, usually after participating in a bushcamp construction course.

Water and Kitchen

  • The Apprentice Kitchen is an off-grid, outdoor kitchen that has a rainwater catchment system (non-potable), sink & drying racks, rocket cook stoves, open fire-pit, and rodent-proof food storage space. Apprentices will carry potable water out to their camp from the central campus. Although there is a kitchen/apothecary located next to our indoor classroom space, it is meant primarily for our classes; Apprentices are expected to cook at their camp.
  • We are located less than 5 miles from Augusta, which has a local laundromat, grocery store, shopping plaza, etc. Two days a week are dedicated “Off Days”, meant in part to give time for doing laundry and getting groceries from town, as well as exploring the beautiful surrounding area.

Bathroom and Shower

  • Apprentices have access to a propane heated outdoor shower, and can also hike or drive ~3 miles onto the neighboring Wildlife Management Area to swim in the beautiful Spectacle Pond.
  • As a part of setting up Apprentice Camp, apprentices will setup their own personal composting toilet systems.

It can be tricky to strike a balance between being prepared, and being over-prepared. Here are some things that we recommend having as an Apprentice.

  • Shelter! Bring a trustworthy 3-season shelter system that you are comfortable using and staying in. A reliable & waterproof tent, or tarp and bugnet setup are the most commonly used, and easiest to find. The addition of a good sleeping bag and pad will ensure your shelter is dependable.
  • (list in progress)

Food is not directly provided by the school for the immersion program, but:

We provided a variety of learning opportunities that will engage apprentices in harvesting their own food as they settle in to the program, but each person should budget accordingly for their food costs. Lots of these opportunities (acorns, blueberries, wild rice, and apples to name just a few) will vary from year to year, and depending on the season, we will be gathering, processing, and eating any number of these staple wild foods (and tending to the campus annual garden, when there are enough Immersion Program students to do so.)

As they settle into camp, apprentices will prepare a communal cooking schedule and menu. Breakfast and dinner will be cooked and eaten as a group, and groceries for communal meals are often organized as a group to save money. Apprentices will be sharing cooking related responsibilities according to their rotating duty roster, and do their cooking either over an open fire, or on rocket stoves.

For those traveling domestically, we usually recommend driving here for the flexibility that it allows participants. Doing groceries and personal errands on the “off days” is much more easily done with a personal vehicle, especially amongst the back-to-back 5 day classes and personal projects that are sure to demand the time and focused study of apprentices.

That being said, we have had people show up in all manner of ways for the Immersion Program, and it is certainly manageable to travel in by plane, bus, bicycle, or whichever means you are most comfortable with. There are plenty of options for flying into Portland International Jetport (PWM), and taking a bus from there to Augusta.

At the core of the immersion program lies the community of apprentices.

This experience will not be well suited for someone who is unwilling to work with others. Maintaining a smooth and elegant set of community systems and duties will ensure that everyone can contribute, and that weight is evenly pulled. Apprentices are expected to maintain a set of communal responsibilities; assigning dish-washing, cooking, food prep, hauling water, fire tending, firewood collection, etc, on a rotating schedule.

Aside from attending classes and maintaining their camp, Apprentices may also be invited to help in various projects on campus, depending on interest (forest garden installation, gardening, food processing).

In the past we have found that work trading with the immersion program is overwhelming, as the program is already a full-time intensive. With this in mind, we do not offer work trade options, but we do organize our seasonal 8-week sessions in a duration that may be more accessible than a full 6-month program.

*Using your GI Bill Educational Grant

We are approved to accept GI Bill education grants for payment of tuition for the residential Wilderness Immersion Program.  Participants must attend Spring, Summer and Fall sessions in the same calendar year to be eligible to use a their grant money.

Single Session Price

$3,500
  • Spring, Summer, or Fall session

2 Sessions Price

$6,250
  • Note: Must be taken within 12 month period

3 Sessions Price

$9,000
  • Note: Must be taken within 12 month period