July 2010

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 [...]

Practical Bushcraft Exam

We use the logbook to track the individual progression of each student. However, there are some skills where a demonstration of the skill set is necessary for competence. You can either complete a task safely and efficiently, or you can’t. The practical exam process is about having a minimum skill level necessary to be able [...]

I read about the Windbelt several years ago and am excited it will be coming to market soon.  It will be a great complement to our off-grid solar system.  Unlike conventional wind generating technology, the windbelt generates electricity without a turbine using aeroelastic flutter; the same process that causes a blade of grass to vibrate [...]

A friend recently went on a fishing trip to Manitoba’s Big Sand Lake. This monster was the second biggest trout he caught there. Notice the Jack Mountain hat.  Some people are lucky when they fish.  Others work hard for what they get.  This fish, and his large cousin caught the following day, were the result [...]

I field a lot of questions about our off-grid solar power system at the field school, so here’s my super-simple primer on going solar. An off-grid solar system where you store energy to use with regular appliances (light, radio, laptop, etc.) at night or when the sun doesn’t shine is comprised of four parts. 1. [...]

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 [...]

I just watched Thomas Elpel’s new dvd Classroom In The Woods; Primitive Skills For Public Schools.  It is a documentary shot on location in Montana where he and his team from the Hollowtop Outdoor Primitive School take junior high class on a 3-day primitive camping trip.  In addition to following the journey of the students, [...]

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 [...]

I stopped in to see my old friend Don Merchant at Pole And Paddle Canoe the other day.  In addition to our usual discussions about the weather, water levels, and just getting caught-up in general, he showed me a new, beefed-up 30″ collapsable bucksaw he plans to start offering soon.  After handling it for a [...]

Wooden Canoes Can Be Fixed

A friend sent me this photo of his wooden canoe after a tough day on the river. You’re looking at broken ribs, half-ribs and planks inside a 20′ wooden canoe. The good news is that everything on a wooden boat can be fixed. That’s one area where these old boats are far superior to their [...]

I’m excited about the new flexible, adhesive PV solar panels, designed to stick to metal roofs, that are finally available. Long-time readers know that we’ve got a small, off-grid solar system at our field school in Masardis, Maine. It consists of one 80-watt panel, a charge controller and several 6-volt golf cart batteries. The panel [...]

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 [...]

New Email Newsletter

Help us help the economy! We’re starting an email newsletter. But this time, we’re using professional tools to run it for us. Help us pump some money into the economy by signing up for our free newsletter. We don’t have to pay the newsletter company until we have 100 subscribers. Subscribe today and push us [...]

Bushcraft Defined

There are several definitions of bushcraft floating around the web, none of which I agree with.  The most common is the one used on the Wikipedia page that states that bushcraft is the long-term adaptation of survival skills.  I disagree.  Bushcraft goes way beyond survival skills. Bushcraft is the active component of our interaction with [...]

I’m adding a new section to our resource page of articles and downloads; podcasts.  I’m regularly sharing podcasts on learning, the natural world, ecology, and more with our students, and now I’ll be sharing them with anyone who is interested.  This is not the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Podcast.  We’re not responsible for recording or anything [...]

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