21-Point Bushcraft And Wilderness Guide Training Curriculum

Below is the 21-point curriculum for our spring, 2009 Bushcraft Canoe Expedition Semester.

  1. Wilderness Survival – Basic, intermediate and advanced survival.
  2. Fire – Fire making with and without modern tools.
  3. Shelter Construction – Building for survival, short-term and long-term stays.
  4. Water – Acquisition And Purification.
  5. Navigation – Barehand (using no modern tools), map and compass.
  6. Canoeing – Paddling, poling, lining, portaging, and using traditional gear such as tumplines and wannigans.
  7. Ropework And Knots – Making cord and rope and tying useful knots.
  8. Clothing Science – Choosing and maintaining your clothing for the bush.
  9. Outdoor Cooking – Stone ovens, pot suspension systems, primitive grilling, sourdough baking, reflector ovens, dutch ovens, etc.
  10. Provisioning And Meal Planning For Trips – Choosing appropriate foods, determining amounts, packing, etc.
  11. Outdoor Leadership – Becoming a professional outdoor leader, managing groups in the woods and on the water.
  12. The Knife – Selection, safety, powerful and efficient use.
  13. The Axe – Selection, safety, powerful and efficient use.
  14. The Saw – Selection, safety, powerful and efficient use.
  15. Trip Equipment – Use and maintenance of nylon and canvas tents, stoves, lanterns, tarps, canoes, paddles, etc.
  16. Group Encampment – Safety, cleanliness, organization.
  17. Sustainability – Composting, waste management, sanitation.
  18. First Aid – Dealing with common injuries. Note: This is not a first aid course.
  19. Lost Person – Finding a lost person in the bush.
  20. First-Person Ecology – Studies of the natural world including weather (observational forecasting), plants (edible, medicinal, utilitarian and magical uses), mammals and their tracks, birds, fish, fungi, insects (with an emphasis on aquatic insects) and stars and the night sky.
  21. Crafts – Building useful pieces of gear including a bow drill, a saw frame, a netting needle and net, a canoe paddle, campfire cooking rigs, burned spoons and bowls, animal calls, sleeping mats, pack frames and baskets.

Electives – In addition to our general curriculum, there are other aspects of the bush life that participants can explore if they’re interested. These include primitive living (going without modern gear), primitive fishing, fly casting and fishing, and firearm safety and marksmanship. While there are no open hunting or trapping seasons during the course, there are daily opportunities for fishing. If you want to fish, you’ll need to get a Maine fishing license. They can be ordered online at Maine Department Of Inland Fisheries And Wildlife. We’re very particular about not breaking any fish and game laws on our courses, so you’ll need a license even if you just want to put a hook in the water one time.

Sustainability – There are also daily lessons on living a simple, sustainable, rural life. Building and using outdoor showers, composting toilets, solar and fireless cookers, food preservation and storage, organic gardening, and much more.

For more detail on these topics, see the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Student Handbook.


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