Spring Bushcraft Semester Weather Challenges

Through adversity comes growth. So far this spring, mother nature has provided great opportunities for growth. The first few weeks of our spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester are the hardest few weeks of our calendar year. The snows are still deep, the streams are swollen, and getting around can be very difficult on deep, slushy snow and ice. This year we’ve been on snowshoes so far, and the temperatures have just started to warm up. The storm raging outside this morning will drop nearly an inch of rain before it heads off to the east, which should knock down some of the deep snows on the road. Maybe we’ll be able to drive in next week with canoe paddle blanks instead of sledding them in from the pavement. All in all, it’s a challenge.

Most modern people don’t have any weather or climate-imposed adversity or hardship to deal with, with the exception of when the heat or air conditioning goes out when it is sorely needed. Having experienced the challenges of the break-up (ie. when the snow melts) in the woods when travel is extremely difficult and inconvenient, I think it provides a perspective seldom seen in our modern, human-dominated world; that we’re not that important. Mother nature doesn’t care about our schedules, appointments, and what we think we have to do. In the modern world, people keep their schedules regardless of the weather. In the woods during the breakup, we adapt our schedules to the whims of mother nature.

This is the last spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester we’ll be running for the foreseeable future. In 2019 we’re running a summer and a fall semester, with a canoe expedition semester in May. I can’t say that I’ll miss it, but I can say that the challenges we’ve faced on spring semesters have taught me a lot about managing a group in bad weather, keeping morale up bad weather, and patience when the weather makes my plans impractical or dangerous.

Weather during a training situation can be a great teacher. During this course so far, students have learned the necessity of a raised bed in their shelter and how to light a wet-weather fire with self-preservation as the motive. Their experience has been radically different than someone who is here in the summer and learns those things as part of the curriculum, but without the nature-imposed self-preservation motive. The challenges faced by our current students will be rewarded with the experience of making it through. The more adversity we face, the more challenging the training, the greater the outcomes.

Blog, Educational Philosophy

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  • Tara Mayers

    My son always hated school, the pressure to be the same as everyone else and reach the same goals… and be graded on them. High School was a tough road. He was lost and didn’t know what life had in store for him, it made him angry, sad and depressed. Then we found Jack Mountain. It started as a weeklong summer class with his dad and progressed to another week by himself. Each time I noticed a change in him. We began to talk about life choices and what made HIM happy. Mom, I’m happy in Maine, I love being at Jack Mountain and learning Bushcraft. Would you be disappointed in me if I said I wanted to be a Maine Survival guide? Disappointed? Oh how my heart soared! I was so happy that my son had found something that he was not only good at but LOVED! He is now up in the cold and wet of Maine in Spring and as his latest email to me said “its AWESOME!” When people ask me where my son goes to school I tell them “Jack Mountain” with the same pride as any parent who’s son or daughter is going to Yale or Harvard. Tim Smith not only teaches hard skill but also the soft skills of life. My son is turning into a confident, able and independent man, what more could any parent hope for. Thinking outside the traditional box isn’t for everyone but for our family it has brought great joy and we can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you Tim Smith and Jack Mountain for everything!

  • Bill

    Out of curiosity, why won’t you be running a spring semester anymore?

  • We’re moving the spring semester to summer in 2019.

  • Thanks Tara, what a great comment to read!

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