educational philosophy

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 [...]

There’s always downtime on residential courses. Students and instructors need time to relax, work on academic homework, and process the experiences they’ve had so far. For some students, downtime is frustrating. They learn by doing and don’t want to stop. So along with improving our food systems on campus, we’ll be putting in two additions [...]

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 [...]

  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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

There is a difference between knowing something for yourself versus having read it or heard it. That difference is characterized by experience and results, not faith and information. During the early weeks of the fall Wilderness Bushcraft Semester we do a lot of work with plants. As we traverse the landscape of Aroostook County, we [...]

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