Jack Mountain Bushcraft Blog

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Next weekend, March 9-11 (2018), the 26th annual Wilderness Paddlers Gathering will take place at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont. It is put on by Northern Wilderness Travelers Conferences, the same group that runs the Snow Walkers Rendezvous in the fall. I’ll be attending and putting on a workshop titled “The Moveable Feast [...]

We’ve decided on the route for the 2018 Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. We’re going with a classic that will follow the Northern Forest Canoe Trail across the crown of Maine. Starting on the Moose River near Jackman, we’ll paddle to Moosehead Lake, where we’ll turn north to Northeast Carry. We’ll carry across to the West [...]

Outdoor skills are frequently presented with a big barrier to entry in the form of price tags. Want to go hiking? Most online information you’ll find will start with advising you on the gear you need to buy first. The same ideas apply to most outdoor endeavors you might want to try your had at. Over [...]

This discussion has come up a bunch recently, so I wanted to define some terms that I use regarding celebrity outdoorsman and professional outdoorsman. A professional outdoorsman is a person who makes their living guiding, teaching, and otherwise working outdoors. A celebrity outdoorsman is a person who is well known on social media, reality tv [...]

  At it’s simplest “Active learning” is learning by doing. On our semesters, student’s make their own canoe paddles, and that’s their first big woodcarving project. They have a basic set of tools and simple instructions on how to shape a paddle from a pine board. A lot of student’s struggle at first with what [...]

On January 19, 2018 I was interviewed by Gundy on The Big Wild radio show, heard all over the midwest on the radio and the world via their podcasts. We were the first interview on this episode of the show (and the podcast). To listen, go to their website at: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/the-big-wild-011918_121684 You can also download [...]

2018 marks our 19th year of multi-week snowshoe and toboggan expeditions. In a world where bushcraft is becoming more about the gear and knives and celebrity outdoorsmen, I’m thankful for winter expeditions. In the cold, living and traveling in the forest, the extraneous fluff falls away. What’s left is authentic and real. And that’s getting [...]

When folks think of living a self-reliant outdoor lifestyle, usually what’s envisioned is picturesque tent sites and all the things that go along with camping. However, that’s not the whole picture. A large part of living a sustainable lifestyle in the modern world is maintaining systems that provide renewable resources without damaging the land we live on. So [...]

I’ve been taking time out of each day this winter to snowshoe on some of the local trails. It’s good exercise and keeps the cabin fever at bay. It’s also where I’ve been doing most of my thinking about course curriculums for the upcoming year. Being out in the woods by yourself on a crisp [...]

Photo: Flooding a piece of cotton T-shirt with Ambroid glue and smearing it around with a dirty sock. Below are three stories about fixing canvas boats in the field. The moral of the stories is that you should know how to repair the craft you use. The more remote the trip, the better you should [...]

We’re bombarded with negativity and bad news in the modern world. So many alerts about all the deaths and evil and things to be afraid of. I’ve been moderating the information that gets attention from me for a while now, and I’m better off as a result. But I still read some news daily when [...]

The School Of The Forest now offers an email newsletter where you can stay abreast of everything going on with the Jack Mountain youth and teen program. You can sign up at the link below. Sign Up For SOTF Newsletter Here I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with you all, and keeping you in [...]

This past week I successfully passed the test to become a registered Maine sea kayak guide. It was the culmination of likely the longest testing process I’ve ever known. Let me explain. In 2000 I took and passed the written test to become a sea kayak guide. The Maine department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife [...]

First Person Ecology In The Winter Months

Well, everyone, it seems like winter’s finally here. The last three days I’ve woken up, made a quick thermos of coffee and thrown on my snowshoes for a morning hike. During those hikes, I was reminded of the stark differences in the ecosystem from season to season. We’ve talked before on the podcast about how [...]

Learning Bushcraft Skills As A Family

While I wrote up the course description for School Of The Forest’s Family Bushcraft Week, I couldn’t help but think of the families in the neighborhood I grew up in, and our yearly “backyard campout”. Once every summer, all the fathers, and their kids would pitch tents in the small common ground behind our homes [...]

Underlying every course we run at Jack Mountain and School Of The Forest are the principles of sustainable living, and building a lifestyle that is closer to the land. We talk about it in passing during courses, but when programs are running at the field school, students are living those principles every day. From composting, [...]

Making Exploration Personal

JMBS Instructors

Hello everybody, Christopher Russell here again. Yesterday after a big Thanksgiving meal, I started thinking about exploration. I’ve been rereading “In northern mists” by Fridtjof Nansen lately. The book is a history of Arctic exploration, but Nansen spends a lot of time talking about the inherent human urge to wander throughout history and prehistory. The [...]

One part of the off-grid (and full tang) lifestyle I’ve lived over the years that doesn’t get a lot of attention is keeping yourself entertained. Most people in the modern world watch a lot of video, whether via tv (older folks) or youtube (younger folks). Although things are changing, this has never been an option [...]

The Webs We Weave

  Nature studies are a vital part of our “first person ecology” curriculum at Jack Mountain and School Of The Forest, and after a conversation about methodology of study with my colleague Ben Spencer I wanted to write a bit about why its such a vital part of the curriculum. It’s easy to read a lot of facts [...]

Culminating Events

Jack Mountain’s semester programs are tough. They demand a lot of students, and that’s by design. When anyone allows themselves to get outside their comfort zone, it allows for growth. Which makes our last two weeks really important to the learning experience. In week seven, students are given some options for “Final Projects”. These range [...]

St. Croix River In The Fall

We spent the last week on the St. Croix river putting into practice what the Fall semester students have been learning about canoeing and camping. The St. Croix is the border between a large stretch of Maine and New Brunswick, and it was gorgeous to see the leaves starting change and the birds and animals [...]

Moose Calling At Night

I get great, deep sleeps at the field school. It’s one of the things that I love about life here. Last night, though, I popped awake at about 3:40. I felt wide awake and decided to walk outside and into the field. As I stood there, I heard the distant mating call of a female [...]

Hello again from School Of The Forest! We mentioned earlier in the summer that we’d be bringing back our Family Bushcraft week in 2018, and as of this morning registration is open. If you and your family want to have a truly alternative vacation next summer, hop over to the webpage and see what we’ve [...]

Youth Vs. Adult Learning Styles

Hello again from the Fall ’17 JMBS semester. This week was supposed to be spent on the trail, but due to inclement weather, we’ve pushed it back. So I figured I’d share an observation I’ve had over the “course” of the -heh- course. I spent the spring and most of the summer running youth programs, and [...]

Fly Fishing With A Nymph

Late summer of 2017 has been marked by extremely dry weather and low water in the Aroostook river. We have a USGS monitor station here in Masardis just upriver from the field school, and today (September 3rd, 2017) it showed the river flowing at 74 cubic feet per second. That’s the lowest I’ve seen it [...]

Two Weeks Into The Fall Semester

Just a quick update on life at the Jack Mountain field school. We’re two weeks in, and things are starting to pick up speed. Students have taken to camp life quickly, learning the ins and outs of cooking over an open fire, processing firewood, etc. We’ve been having a lot of fun getting to know each [...]

Many people these days are interested in learning how to go off the grid; to learn the systems needed to be self-sufficient in a remote location. These systems can include a humanure toilet system, rocket stove and open fire cooking systems, food storage systems, grey water systems, homemade solar power and hot water systems, and [...]

I have had the good fortune to learn from and call friend many of the titans of bushcraft and wilderness guiding. Knowing and learning from them has had a huge impact on my life and career. I won’t name names, but I don’t have to; if you’re reading this you probably already know half of [...]

Hey everyone, Christopher Russell from Jack Mountain and School of the forest here, This summer I got to help out with Jack Mountain’s summer woodsman course at our field school in Maine. Two fathers took part in this course with their sons, and it was really great to watch them learning together, as well as [...]

People who write books or teach usually base their writing or instruction on one of three sources: Imagination: They write or teach what they imagine something to be like. Purely hypothetical. Research: They interview others in person or via what they’re written, and then draw conclusions from other’s experience. They don’t have the experience themselves. [...]

School Of The Forest At The Libby Museum

  Summer’s in full swing, and so is School Of The Forest. We’ve just finished up a weeklong “Outdoor Skills” course at Squam Lake Natural Science center, and next on our list is another outdoor living class at the Libby Museum in Wolfeboro, NH. It’ll be a fun week, with teens in the course learning basic [...]

I was recently asked what the most challenging aspect of running this business is. After almost 20 years, I’m able to answer without hesitation; March. March is a tough month in northern New England. You can’t count on winter for winter activities, and you definitely can’t count on spring. As a result, you have to [...]

The fall, 2017 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester has been full for months, but in the past few days we’ve had 2 cancellations, resulting in 2 open spots. We’ll be contacting the folks on our waiting list this weekend, but if you’re interested give us a call Monday morning.

“The Art Of Outdoor Living; A Resource For The Junior Maine Guide Program” is on my top ten list of most important books on bushcraft and outdoor living, and recently came back into print. It provides clear instructions on a variety of outdoor living skills. The updated edition features 280 pages of revised text, glossy [...]

Six Weeks In

May-29-2016 Hey everyone. We’ve got about three weeks left in the course, so I sat down with Tim Smith again to chat about it so far, but mostly because he offered me coffee. There will be a podcast of our discussion in the future, but for now, I’d like to just compile my own thoughts [...]

 


 

JMBS Programs & Sites
· Field School – Professional Training, Semester & Expedition Programs. Masardis, Maine.
· Folk School – Lodge-Based & Short Programs. Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.
· Classic Wilderness Guiding – Canoe, Snowshoe & Sea Kayak Trips
· School Of The Forest – Teen & Youth Programs
· BushcraftSchool.com – JMBS Online Learning Academy
· Jack Mountain Outfitters – Gear For The Professional Woodsman
· JMB Web Portal – Guide To All Our Programs & Sites

JMBS Master Calendar
All scheduled programs.
· JMBS Master Calendar
 
Typos, Etc.
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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