Jack Mountain Bushcraft Blog

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We had a great day working on pack baskets yesterday.  Usually I have people gather the materials with which to carve their skids from the surrounding woods.  But due to the deep snow and difficulty of getting around without snowshoes, I made these before the course started.  It saved a lot of time, and the [...]

Two more inches of snow overnight, and it’s really coming down this morning.  We’re close to breaking the snowfall record set in 1873-74, and this will get us closer. We’re running a pack basket course this weekend.  In these courses we use molds to make sure the shape of the basket is pleasing.  To ensure [...]

I recently rewrote the section of our student handbook that explains how we assess student work in our yearlong and semester programs. That rewrite is below: Assessment: Logbook and Portfolio There are no certifications in bushcraft, wilderness survival or primitive skills that are accepted universally. If any school offers a certification, it’s likely a result [...]

We filled our last general intern position for 2008 today.  Thanks to everyone who contacted us about them.  We’ll still have a few summer homesteading internships available to semester course graduates, so if you want more information on them please let us know.

Spring 2008 Canoe Trips

We’ve got a variety of canoe trips planned for this spring.  While they will be part of our spring Earth Skills Semester Program, there will be a few open spots for each of them if you’re interested in coming along.  Trips we’ve got planned include the Aroostook River, the St. John River, a whitewater paddling [...]

Sign Tracking With Scouts

I’ve got a group of scouts coming out this afternoon for a mammal tracking exercise.  With the snow conditions being what they are (two inches of ice on top of three feet of snow), there won’t be any clear prints or patterns to see.  When people are moving along on the crust of the ice, [...]

Filming, Last Day

This morning we’ll be wrapping up the filming and everyone will be on their way. It’s been a great time and we’ve had a lot of fun, but it has kept me pretty busy. If you’ve called or emailed in the past week, I’ll be getting back to you tonight. The show, I’ll Try Anything [...]

A friend sent me this link to an interview with Michael Pollan titled “Don’t Eat Anything That Won’t Rot.” It’s about the present and future of food, and is an interesting read if you’re interested in where your food comes from and why there are so many fragmented foods these days. From the introduction to [...]

Filming, Day 4

The weather shifted yesterday, with an inch of so of rain falling in the afternoon.  The front came through last night, and now we’ve got sun along with high winds rushing to fill in the low pressure system as it moves out over the Atlantic.  I haven’t been into the woods yet this morning, but [...]

Filming, Day 3

We had another busy day filming yesterday. We started in the morning ice fishing out on the lake. It was dead for a while, then we caught a nice bass. Afterwards we were back in the woods. I went into the woods off of the trail at one point and sunk into the snow up [...]

Filming, Day 2

A busy day yesterday working on the hands-on, nuts and bolts of winter survival.  It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 40’s – a welcome change from the snow and ice we’ve received lately.  Today we’ll be looking at more traditional skills and lore of the bush, identifying many of the trees [...]

I had a great day yesterday with the director of the tv show that’s here filming this week. We scouted the locations I had in mind for the shoot, then took a ride around to get some shots of the area. It’s tough walking in the woods, as there is 3.5 feet of snow with [...]

I’ve been working on several book projects this winter, and the first one is our new student handbook. I’ve put together a bunch of the student resources we’ve developed over the last ten years in our semester programs and expanded on them, resulting in a study guide for our semester programs that would also be [...]

Over the weekend I read Paddle And Portage: From Moosehead Lake To The Aroostook River, Maine by Thomas Sedgwick Steele on Google Books. It’s an 1880 account of traveling the route named in the title, which goes right by our new place in Masardis. I’ve always loved old books, especially if I’ve traveled over the [...]

Next week a tv crew will be here shooting a show called I’ll Try Anything Once. The host, a New York journalist named Touré, and I will be together in the woods for the week, along with a small camera crew. I don’t have a lot of details, but we’re sure to have a good [...]

Building on the nature study post from yesterday, I wanted to add one of my favorite links; Observations Of A Naturalist by Boyd Shaffer. It features illustrated articles (illustrated by Boyd) about nature by a man who knows it well. I studied the field botany of southcentral Alaska in Boyd’s class at Kenai Peninsula College [...]

A friend emailed me about Naturalist Jim Conrad’s site Backyard Nature, part of his push to improve environmental education by offering free nature study courses online. There’s also a public phenology database where you can record nature information you observe. It’s a great resource for learning about the world around you, as well as sharing [...]

There’s a short piece on us in the February/March edition of Portland Magazine. They think pretty highly of our naturalist skills.  From the article: “Follow the paddle whirlpools of America’s greatest naturalist online at www.jackmtn.com”

I was speaking with someone on the phone about our residential programs this morning, and as a result of the conversation I wanted to clarify some points about our long-term programs. Our Earth Skills Semester Programs and the Yearlong Immersion Program are made up of seven different courses that combine together to build a cohesive [...]

I’ve been thinking about writing a review for Paul Stamets’s book Mycelium Running since I read it last fall. It’s an amazing book about fungi, which most people think are simply mushrooms. The reality, as put forth in the book, is that fungi are the internet of the natural world; communicating over long distances and [...]

Solar Firelighting Tool

A friend sent me the link to a cool firelighting gadget that works by collecting the sun’s rays with a parabolic reflector. A fire by this method can be accomplished several different ways, but I haven’t seen a handheld, commercial model until now. It looks cool and costs $13. Check it out here.

I’m a vocal critic of the lack of sustainability in outdoor education and recreation. I’ve said numerous times that minimum impact is really displaced impact, in that the impact is considerable but is not felt in the area where people recreate. Northland College has addressed the problem. They’ve put together a web page about their [...]

As part of our ongoing program development, we’re adding a summer homesteading internship to our lineup of courses.  It will provide serious students an opportunity to work on their bushcraft skills amongst a small community of learners while at the same time learning to live simply off the land.  Work will revolve around farming and [...]

I spend a lot of time thinking about the teaching process in preparation for our courses. Years of doing so have led me to believe that there are many things that can be learned, but not directly taught. An example of this took place the other night when some of the participants in our winter [...]

We just finished a four-day (2-day weekend, 2-day advanced) winter wilderness survival course culminating with some of the participants spending the night out with no sleeping bags in shelters they built themselves. Over four days we had a wide range of weather, from below zero (F) temperatures to driving rain and slush to whiteout conditions. [...]

I’ve been elected to the board of directors of GALA, which stands for Global Awareness, Local Action. It’s a local organization focusing on sustainability and local issues. We’ve worked together for the past year by offering sustainability workshops on such topics as composting, raised bed gardens, winemaking, local edible and medicinal plants, and more. The [...]

We’ve added two week-long courses to our schedule this spring. Titled Spring Bushcraft Intensive 1 and 2, they are the first two weeks of our Spring Earth Skills Semester Program, but can be taken as standalone courses. In the first week, students will start from scratch to build a shelter of their own to live [...]

Aside from this being a powerful and moving biography, the documentary Little Dieter Needs To Fly is a fascinating look at survival psychology. From the DVD: As a young boy, Dieter Dengler watched as Allied places destroyed his village; from that instant, he knew he wanted to fly. At 18, he moved to America, enlisted [...]

We’ve had a recent schedule change for June. A private workshop we had scheduled was cancelled, and as a result we’re running the 5-day version of our Advanced Summer Survival Course June 23-27, immediately following our Summer Survival Weekend Course that runs June 21-22.  If you plan on coming bring a fly rod if you’ve [...]

I bought a $100 axe head this past week. I’m guessing that sounds expensive to you, because it did to me at first. It’s an unused, 3.25 lb Emerson & Stevens, made in Oakland, Maine in 1942. The thing about axes is that they’re not making them like they used to. Before the days of [...]

General Intern Position

We’ve put together a general intern position for this year. There is a heavy emphasis on organic gardening and food production, as well as general work. Details below. Positions Available: There is one position left for 2008. About: Interns will live on site or nearby, and will have several duties including gardening, shooting video, and [...]

In planning the spring Earth Skills Semester Program, as well as how we’ll accomplish certain tasks at our new base camp in Masardis, the issue of a way to generate electricity to charge camera and video camera batteries and run a laptop has been in the back of my mind for a while. Since we [...]

We’ve finalized the dates for our canoeing and bushcraft trip to northern Quebec with Cree guide David Bosum. We’ll meet in Ouje Bougoumou on the afternoon/evening of Saturday, August 9th, and start our trip the morning of the 10th. We’ll be back the night of the 16th and leave on the 17th. There will be [...]

This spring’s Earth Skills Semester Program will be somewhat different from those we’ve run in the past.  Because it will be the first one we’re running at our new base camp in Masardis, Maine, we’ll be making and building a lot of camp projects throughout the course.  We’ll also be building numerous bush structures to [...]

After speaking with several people I’ve decided to not restrict our online network just to alumni, but rather to open it to friends as well. So if you’re interested, you can register here or go to http://jackmtn.ning.com. You can post photos, videos, a blog, and more, as well as network with other likeminded individuals about [...]

 


 

Web Sites
· JMB Field School – Long-Term Immersion: Semester & Expedition Programs. GI Bill & College Credit.
· Classic Wilderness Guiding – Canoe, Snowshoe & Sea Kayak Trips
· JMB Folk School – Lodge-Based Programs & Short Courses
· School Of The Forest – Teen & Youth Programs
· BushcraftSchool.com – Online & Distance Learning
· JMBS Master Calendar – All Scheduled Programs

Typos, Etc.
Note: Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device demonstrating prodigious artistic prowess.

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