bushcraft

During the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester we do two-night solos where participants head into the forest alone with very minimal kit. For many people it isn’t easy to unplug from the modern world and be alone with themselves. We can get so distracted with life, the internet and everything that our minds are almost never where [...]

We just finished the spring 2019 semester, and it’s good to be back home for a spell before we jump into the summer programming at Jack Mountain and School Of The Forest. The semester was a challenging one for students. Spring in northern Maine is a tough time to be on the land. It’s cold [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

May 20th ,2016 After a month of training, we went off on our first expedition. Fifty-two miles is nothing to someone who drives everywhere they go. An hour or so at most. I kept thinking about Shackleton and other’s trips in the days before we pushed off to start the trip, and feeling that fifty-two [...]

Three Weeks Into The 2016 Spring Semester

During my semester at Jack Mountain, I kept a blog on my personal site, Primitiveaddictions.com, and over the next few weeks, I’ll be reposting those pieces here on the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School blog. My hope is that anyone considering taking a course will get some insight into the day to day workings of a semester [...]

Tomorrow night’s campfire cooking class is full, but if you’re in the area and want to come we could probably squeeze in one more.  We’ll be covering a variety of topics applicable to the woods cook, including: Building a tripod Gear – wannigans, pots, frying pans Grilling meat in a raquette Dutch oven cooking with [...]

We’ve updated the requirements for our Journeyman Guide And Bushcraft Instructor certification for the current semester. Some of the additions include an expanded section on knots and their applications, formal trip planning, and a 4-day water fast. You can get more information on the Journeyman certification on our site (link). You can also download the requirements [...]

We’re adding a second Boreal Snowshoe Expedition session in 2016.  It’s our winter bushcraft immersion; a twelve day traditional northern winter wilderness living and travel expedition.  We’re on the trail living on snowshoes, hauling our gear on toboggans, staying in woodstove-outfitted canvas tents and learning to be at home and comfortable in the bitter cold. [...]

Bushcraft Bling

It never fails to amaze me just how pervasive and prevalent the reach of our consumer culture is these days.   Even those of us who claim to have a modicum of immunity from the world of image, identity and worth via the stuff we’ve bought, find ourselves from time to time really wanting that new trinket for [...]

Living The Life

“Imagine after being exhausted at the end of a hard day, you are coming home to this [long silence]. In the little remaining daylight he cannot possibly return to his main hut, his only recourse is to fix this one.” -Werner Herzog from “Happy People” The trapper then commences to put his small cabin back in [...]

I can’t remember if someone told me or if I read that coffin-shaped toboggans, widest a few feet from the bow and tapered at both ends, pull better than rectangular toboggans. Regardless of how I came to know that as true, I’ve believed it since I started pulling toboggans and camping with them in the [...]

Although the snow is still more than waist deep and we have yet to hit mud season, today will be the second day in a row where the mercury tops 40 degrees F. Spring isn’t here yet, but it’s coming. So I wanted to take a look back on a really busy, amazing winter. It [...]

They’re trickling in from far and wide. England arrived yesterday. Texas and Chicago tomorrow. Ohio, Connecticut and California on Thursday. New Hampshire is ready to go. Alberta and Montreal are meeting us on the road. In two days our small group (on the Jack Mountain calendar as the Subarctic Snowshoe Expedition With The Cree) is [...]

It’s easy to make something that looks like a bucksaw frame, but it’s much more difficult to make one that will cut a lot of wood without coming apart. It’s easy to make something that looks like a snowshoe, but much more difficult to make one that will allow you to walk on it all [...]

Want To Go On A Journey?

Last summer, during the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester, we shot a lot of video. It’s taken some time, but now we’re ready to post that video. Instead of spending a lot of time editing it into a long video no one will watch, I’m going to post it as a series of short clips. I [...]

Newfound Celebrity

This past week saw several interesting developments for me as my sphere of influence has seemingly broadened. Yes, the tv show for which I’m part of the cast debuted it’s second season. It’s called Dude You’re Screwed and I’ll be in an episode on Christmas eve. More on that later. This isn’t about that. For [...]

Wet Weather Fire Video

Demonstrating wet weather fire by sectioning, splitting and contact splitting with an axe, then using a knife to carve feathers. Finally lighting with one match. First video shot during the fall, 2014 semester, and the first by our video guy, Heath Spielberg. Wet Weather Fire

A series of videos shot on the 2014 Boreal Snowshoe Expedition. It was a stellar team out for two beautiful weeks. We had an amazing time. Boreal Snowshoe Expedition Intro Making Bannock Winter Cooking Rig Splitting Wood On Snowshoes On The Trail With Jerell Yukon’s Campsite Tour

Sourdough biscuits in the reflector oven filmed during the 2013 Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester on a remote river in northern Maine. Topher and Dave were guide team partners for this dinner and literally steal the show. And no, we weren’t having any fun on that trip.

38 Days Of Pemmican

This guest post is by Jerell Friesen, pictured in the photo above adjusting an improvised snowshoe during the 38 days described in the post. You can download a pdf with graphics by clicking here. What I Did: During the 38 day period between February 2nd and March 8th 2013 I dedicated myself to a two [...]

Recorded in the Guide Shack at the field school, join Tim Smith, Paul Sveum and Shawn Sprague as they talk about the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School certifications. Learn what they are, why they exist, where they came from and what they can do for you. iTunes Link | Play, Download Or Subscribe In iTunes Stitcher [...]

Right after I finished high school I played in a summer hockey league at Hockey Town, USA on Route 1 north of Boston. If you’re familiar with the area, it’s in Saugus just down the hill from the Hilltop Steakhouse’s giant cactus. On my team, the Cossacks, there was only one other guy my age, [...]

We’ve got two last-minute open spots for the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester starting April 20th and running through June 21st. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact a person who had registered for the upcoming semester, and someone dropping out of the course, I’ve opened those spots up. So although we’ve been full for several months, if [...]

It’s no secret that I love the winter. When the mercury drops and the snow falls, most people leave the forests, not to return again until spring unless taken there by a gas-powered contrivance of some sort. It makes even a few acres of woodlot feel like a vast wilderness when the wind is howling [...]

What would you do after a 2-week, northern Maine snowshoe expedition? If you answered head directly to Minnesota to go on another multi-week snowshoe expedition, you think just like the guys doing our yearlong immersion program. Paul Sveum, one of our instructors, is leading a trip across Minnesota’s Boundary Waters immediately following our trip in [...]

I’ll be announcing some changes to our programs over the next few days, the first of which is the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. I’ve been talking with alumni and thinking about how it is different from the the canoe instruction and experience during the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. The main question I’ve been asking is if [...]

During the June, 2013 Woodsman course we were at the river picking fiddleheads for supper when a yearling and mother moose walked into the field. We were quiet and still, and the wind was blowing toward us, so they kept coming right at us.

I’ve set the time and location for the first of our 3-part edible wild plant workshop series.  Session 1 (June 30) will run from 12-3 and will meet at 267 Camp School Road in Wolfeboro, NH. Plan to arrive between 11:30 and 12:00. We will be exploring the nearby woods and fields.  If your main [...]

Trip Journal 1/30/13 Tentbound. Squapan Lake, Aroostook County, Maine. After the cold of our first 8 days in the woods, we enjoyed a beautiful walk hauling laden toboggans down the western arm of Squapan Lake. The sleds chattered behind us with minimal effort, a huge difference from hauling them up the hill from the field [...]

January 23, 2013; Day five of our Winter Bushcraft And Snowshoe Expedition Intensive. The weather has been cold; we haven’t seen positive temperatures in four days. The last two nights, the temperatures have been colder than 35 degrees below zero, and colder than -55 with the wind chill. We’ve got two 8-sided, 12′ diameter Ungava [...]

I like first person accounts of life in the bush. There are many from throughout North America that I’ve read, but I also enjoy those from farther afield. Recently I had a day of travel (car, bus, plane), and spent the whole day reading Dersu The Trapper. It’s a true account written by a Russian [...]

I’m headed to the Snow Walker’s Rendezvous in Vermont November 9-11. If you’ve never been and you’re interested in non-mechanized winter travel and living out in the winter, you should check it out. I’ll be teaching workshops on axemanship, ropemaking, and making low-tech crooked knives, like the one Little Justin is holding in the above [...]

This past weekend we wrapped up our 21st long-term immersion program. When we started in August I had big plans about blogging every day, but the realities of field school life intervened and I only posted twice during the course. There were lots of great moments, from the weasel who lived under my tent and [...]

There’s a grace that comes with experience when form follows function. Simplicity is the goal. The more experienced one becomes, the less work is needed to complete a specific task. This is accomplished by eliminating the unnecessary. When using an axe to procure raw materials for basic needs from the forest, the more skilled and [...]

I woke up before dawn and watched the sun rise over Squapan ridge this morning. We’ve had a bunch of hot and humid weather, but a cold front came through yesterday afternoon and the overnight temperature was in the low 40’s. This morning the sky is clear and there a hint of autumn in the [...]

Yesterday we started our 21st bushcraft semester course, our 11th since relocating our immersion programs to the field school in Masardis, Maine. It’s significant because now we’ve run more of them here than at our old base in New Hampshire. It’s also the first semester course where we’ve been able to accept the GI Bill [...]

After meeting a bunch of the folks who frequent the Bushcraft USA forum at Woodsmoke, I decided to become a supporter and vendor there. As a result, now we’ve got our own sub-forum. It’s a good place to discuss anything bushcraft. You can get there by clicking here.

Summer’s Over

Our summer ended today and although it was a great one, I’m wondering where it went? With attending the first Woodsmoke rendezvous, running the first Family Bushcraft course (and having 20 people attend!), running our usual summer courses, and doing a bit of television work, it was full to the gills. The past week I’ve [...]

Jack Mountain Bushcraft Journal episode 39, the 14th in a 15 part video series shot on our May, 2012 bushcraft canoe expedition course in the North Maine Woods. In this episode, injury! One of the members of the crew gets a puncture wound in their shin. This episode finishes with a visit from Dr. Nick [...]

Jack Mountain Bushcraft Journal episode 34, the 9th in a 15 part video series shot on our May, 2012 bushcraft canoe expedition course in the North Maine Woods. Join us in the canoe as we travel down a quickwater section of the river, then visit with Big Fish as he talks about his hammock camping [...]

Jack Mountain Bushcraft Journal episode 32, the 7th in a 15 part video series shot on our May, 2012 bushcraft canoe expedition course in the North Maine Woods. In this episode we carry boats and gear around Munsungan Falls, then take a look at the falls and talk about how it was a favorite fishing [...]

Jack Mountain Bushcraft Journal episode 29, the 4rd in a 15 part video series shot on our May, 2012 bushcraft canoe expedition course in the North Maine Woods. Check out our poling practice session, watch Bart fall in twice, and hear Shawn expound on the importance of treating a friction fire coal gingerly as you [...]

There’s a legendary story about the band Van Halen and their tour rider with concert venues from the 1970’s and 80’s that has to do with brown M&M’s (the candy). Buried deep within the contract was a clause that they demanded to have M&M’s backstage, but that someone had to go through and pick out [...]

After the ridiculously fun family bushcraft week, I managed to get away from the field school for a few days and have been holed-up learning the basics of the editing software and editing the video we shot in May during the bushcraft canoe expedition course.  After a lot of hours staring at a screen, it’s [...]

Following up on yesterday’s post, I’m currently reading a book called Discussion Based Online Teaching To Enhance Student Learning by Tisha Bender.  This year we’re adding a distance learning component to our immersion programs, and I’m educating myself as to how to do it effectively.  More on this later.  Bender relays a story on page 38 [...]

I first met Mors Kochanski in 1995 at his place in Alberta. Over the years we’ve stayed in touch and I’ve learned much from his sage advice. Recently at Woodsmoke we were chatting when someone complained about being kept up late the night before. Mors responded with several great lines I’ll never forget. I’m paraphrasing, [...]

This year was something new for the Riverman course. We started the week with a morning poling and paddling on Squapan lake, then spent an hour poling at the confluence of St. Croix stream and the Aroostook river before floating back to the field school and spending two hours working on technical poling skills at [...]

These two quotations from “The Art Of Outdoor Living” jumped out at me because what they say about experiential education and a realistic assessment of skill through a practical exam apply directly to our new Journeyman Bushcraft Instructor & Wilderness Guide Certification Program. Scroll to the bottom for full bibliographic information. “The training and preparation [...]

The Best Axe

There is no shortage of advice on the weight an axe head should be and how long (and what shape) the handle should be. Today I wanted to inject a my opinion into the discussion, as well as describe my favorite axes. An axe with a longer handle is safer than one with a shorter [...]

One of the new aspects we’re building into our Journeyman Certification Course are skill and craft benchmarks. It’s great to learn how to make new things. But, to attain even a basic skill level with them, they have to be completed a number of times. For example, on some of our courses students learn how [...]

It takes time to learn. For some things, this can be measured in minutes. For others, it’s measured in decades. When we become enamoured with something, we often want to shorten the learning time so we can get to the point where we’re respected for knowing it, where we’re the celebrated “expert”. So the temptation [...]

A lot of what we do in our bushcraft courses doesn’t look like formal education. The old-school image of a standing instructor lecturing to seated students taking notes is a rarity. We have no love affair with seat time, nor with the lecture format. You’re more likely to see a small group of people engaged [...]

If you eat a great meal at a restaurant, is the type of spatula the cook used responsible for the taste of the food? If you see a beautiful house, how important is the type of hammer the builder used to the final structure? If someone has a beautiful website, do you ask them what [...]

We stopped using sandpaper for smoothing wood on field courses years ago. Sandpaper is sand, or grit, glued to a piece of paper in a thin layer. It doesn’t last very long, which precludes it from being taken on long trips. A simple alternative is to take a piece of fabric (denim or cotton duct [...]

You learn to write by writing. It’s a truism, but what makes it a truism is that it’s true. The only way to learn to write is to force yourself to produce a certain number of words on a regular basis. – William Zinsser, from “On Writing”, p.49. Is there anything you could switch writing [...]

When you’re learning a new skill, it should be as simple as possible, broken down into its necessary elements and with as many details as possible stripped away. The focus should be on the minimum input needed for success. This is why many how-to books aimed at beginners fail; too much detail. On our bushcraft [...]

Taking a course does not make you an expert. You become an expert by investing enough time, energy and sweat to really learn something in depth.  How much time?  Malcom Gladwell, in his book Outliers, popularized the 10,000 hour rule; “The idea that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill.”  [...]

I  have learned more about fungi from Paul Stamets‘s book Mycelium Running (Amazon.com link)  than any other resource.  While other books on mushrooms are often great field guides for identifying individual species, Stamets’s book has helped me to understand the ecology and relationships of mushrooms.  I still have a long way to go, but I [...]

“Craft teaches our dependence upon the natural material world directly and practically – not as an abstraction.” –  Zabe MacEachern, from her article Crafting as a practice of Relating to the Natural World in the Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE), Vol 5, No 1 – 2000. Crafting is often seen as a way to [...]

My experience running 16 bushcraft and wilderness semester courses has taught me the value of taking a time-out from modern life and living more simply. I’ve seen the positive effect the experience has had on course participants. I know the effects it has had on me. Some of these include: Separating needs from wants. Living [...]

Can you train people for white water canoeing without them spending time in white water?  Is training without a realistic setting viable? I spent six years trying to get people ready for white water canoe poling and paddling by having them complete exercises on smooth water.  But when we got to the actual white water, [...]

I’ve been researching the role of crafting on the learning process recently.  There is a mountain of how-to information on crafting, but most of it on how-to-do things; the questions of why and what are the impacts are aren’t as common.  Since crafting is one of the seven core elements of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft [...]

It takes a minimum of 100 miles to learn how to paddle a canoe It takes a minimum of 80 miles to learn how to pole a canoe It takes a minimum of 100 friction fires to learn how to consistently make a friction fire It takes a minimum of 50 percussion fires to learn [...]

Assessment exists for the student, not for the instructor. At their worst, assessment systems put students in a competition with their peers.  At their best, they provide a way for students to gauge their progress and to see how far they’ve come, give them an honest accounting of where their skills fit into the bigger [...]

Teaching bushcraft these days is as much about helping people to eliminate the extraneous as it is showing them something new. Put another way, it’s as much carving as it is building. Much of what passes for common knowledge in bushcraft and outdoor living is fantasy, created and fed by poorly conceived books, movies and [...]

“Toddlers ask many questions, and so do school children – until about grade three.  By that time many of them have learned an unfortunate fact, that in school, it can be more important for self-protection to hide one’s ignorance about a subject than to learn more about it, regardless of one’s curiosity.”    – Jan Hunt [...]

We’ve had some great discussions about how the brain works in the learning process as part of our ongoing online course on becoming an instructor.  One aspect that we’ve only touched on briefly is the role of exercise in the learning process.  To simplify a complex subject into a soundbite, exercise is good for your [...]

Nutshimit is a word and concept from the Innu.  Previously known by the name given to them by the French, Montagnais, they inhabit a huge, sparsely populated region of Quebec and Labrador. For many Innu, life in the village is marked by idleness and a sense of loss and alienation, in strong contrast to being [...]

I’ve been thinking for several years about putting together an expedition-style course for young men where we’d spend three or four weeks in the north woods canoeing and living outdoors.  It would be a similar, although less rigorous, curriculum that we use in our college semester programs, with a focus on academic subjects such as [...]

TV survival shows are about hardships and risk. With background music to set the mood, the feeling of jeopardy hangs heavily over the host as s/he negotiates within an inch of his/her life. The danger makes it sexy. In the real world, bushcraft is much more about heritage and tradition rather than risk. The old [...]

Thinking about taking a semester off from college and spending it in the wilderness? If so, compare the different approaches of our program versus the large, corporate wilderness education companies. If you’re looking for modern, high-tech outdoor education with programs on backpacking and mountaineering, then check them out. But if you’re interested in building a [...]

As part of the online course we’re running titled “Becoming A Bushcraft Instructor”, we’re currently reading the book “Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind” by Guy Claxton. We’ve been enjoying many thoughtful discussions on teaching and learning and how they apply to bushcraft and the outdoors. This gem of a passage is from near the end of [...]

I was discussing bushcraft on Saturday and trying to explain it to someone whose life experience has been all in urban areas. In discussing life at our field school, I explained that it was just like life anywhere else, except without the infrastructure. I thought about this for a while after the conversation ended, and [...]

Our first online course, titled “Becoming A Bushcraft Instructor,”, has been a great experience thus far. We’ve had some thoughtful discussions about our first book, Hare Brain Tortoise Mind, which examines how the brain processes information. I’ve been learning a lot from the discussion. As a sample, below is a post from Russ Venditto on [...]

I’ve never looked the part. Most people never do. We’re TBH (trained by hollywood) that people who do certain things should look a certain way. After all, that’s how they look in the movies. But it’s a big lie. My high school soccer coach was adamant about people not using their appearance to stand out. [...]

Our educational system has become increasingly abstract over the last hundred years.  Instead of instruction in sensory development and hands-on skills, we focus almost exclusively on the intellectual and the abstract.  Much of this is the result of the influence of Jean Piaget and his stage theory of cognitive development from the 1920’s.  He viewed [...]

Another new course for 2010, the Bushman course is an intensive exploration of primitive bushcraft skills. The word primitive is derived from the latin root primus, which means first or original. We’ll focus on original skills, those that don’t require specialized kit or other gear. Nature is our gear store. Knowledge makes it accessible. This [...]

There’s a difference between outdoor leadership and management.  Management is when you ensure people carry out predetermined tasks leading to a defined outcome.  Managers aren’t looking for innovation.  They’re there to ensure things get done according to a preexisting plan.  When we’re cooking a group dinner over a campfire in a remote location, we often [...]

We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about our yearlong program lately.  Several people over the weekend wanted to know if students live on-site for the entire year.  The answer is no, they don’t.  The program is organized around three intensives: the fall semester, the winter program, and the spring expedition.  For graduates, there is [...]

I was recently interviewed by Iain Haywood at ooh.com.  You can read the piece here.  In addition to some nice photos of Ernie Davis and David Bosum, I’m quoted on educational philosophy: “At its best, teaching should be invisible; a person who learns from a mediocre instructor will realize how talented their instructor is. The [...]

I had the opportunity to do some reading and enjoy some spirited discussions on our recent trip to northern Quebec. One of the topics that kept coming up was the lack of decent terminology in english for the simple, outdoor lifestyle based on skill, simple tools and a relationship with the land and it’s resources. [...]

Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson wrote that “adventure is a sign of incompetence.”  But if it isn’t for adventure, why do people do the things they do?  I’m with Stefansson on adventure.  It implies that you’re not prepared for what you face, which, in the case of living a life outdoors, should never be the case.  [...]

The number of primitive skills and survival schools has swelled in the last few years, and while all schools are not created equal there are many opportunities to learn wilderness skills these days.  It’s important to be clear about what we do because it’s different than what’s available elsewhere.  Yes, we teach skills.  We’re among [...]

We went out on a family tracking walk yesterday.  The snow was perfect and there were all sorts of tracks for my son to investigate.  It’s fun being outside with him and seeing the landscape through his eyes.  One of the neat things we can learn from children is the idea of vu-ja-de.  It’s the [...]

I saw an ad for a college today and in the photo they had as their centerpiece was a student in a lecture hall looking toward the front and acting interested. That’s a negative for me. I remember sitting through a bunch of lectures, some great, some not, but what I took away from the [...]

I’ve taken a wide variety of wilderness medical courses around the northeast. In 2000, I took a winter medicine and rescue course at the AMC center in Pinkham Notch at the base of Mount Washington. It was a two-day course, and on many nights they have slide show presentations for the people staying there. The [...]

Last summer I guided a trip to northern Quebec where we spent a week with Cree guides David Bosum and Lawrence Capissit. They were born in the bush and have spent their lives living off of the country there. One day one of guys on the trip was asking David some questions about winter trips. [...]

“Having done is worth more than having read, having watched, or knowing how.” I was thinking about experiential learning yesterday when the line above came to me. I think it will be our slogan for 2008. We live in the era where information is everywhere. But we should never confuse familiarity with understanding or experience. [...]

I had a professor in graduate school who said that we decide how the world works by the time we’re two and a half years old, and we spend the rest of our lives justifying and defending that idea. It’s a concept that keeps coming up and makes me think about what I believe 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 [...]

A guy called me yesterday with questions about our Summer Survival Weekend Course. We spoke for several minutes about what the course covers, what he could expect, and other related topics. Then said he had a question about religion. He asked if we incorporated spiritual teachings or Native American ceremonies in the course. I immediately [...]

Last week I went on a solo canoe/fishing trip to Allagash Lake and Allagash stream. I put in on Allagash Stream above the lake, where it’s narrow and winding. There wasn’t a lot of water so I poled the entire way to the deadwater above the lake. As I was coming around a corner I [...]

Becoming competent at lighting fires with a hand drill or bow drill takes time, sweat and blisters. But it can be done. There’s a difference between trying to get a coal and trying to master the techniques. Decide what your goals are before you proceed. If you want to get a coal, then drill until [...]

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