This course focuses on seven fields of study.
Natural History – The Cherokee
In order to fully understand a region, we must first study the people that have lived here for thousands of years. Studying their history, wisdom, and knowledge of the land is the perfect way to build a solid foundation for this program. Throughout North America, indigenous peoples once lived in balance with the land. They considered themselves to be stewards and caretakers of their homelands. This reverence and respect for nature was not only a major key to their survival, but still is the very foundation to their rich and successful heritage and culture.
Awareness – Coming Back to our Senses
Being aware of one’s surroundings is a key to living a full and rich life. We’re constantly bombarded by so many visual and audible stimuli in our daily lives that we tend to tune much of it out. In essence, we miss much. Unfortunately, when we visit the woods we tend to take that pattern and attitude with us. Nature vibrates at a different pulse than most of us. This segment of the program will focus on our sensory awareness. Learning how to use all your senses in a holistic way will heighten all your experiences in Nature and life. Numerous nature awareness exercises are woven throughout this program. Learning to observe nature in this way is a very powerful (life-changing?) experience.
Wilderness Survival – The Way of the Hunter-Gatherer
Survival is one of the most misunderstood words used today. Too often it paints a picture of desperation, pitting man against the evil forces of Nature in a life or death struggle to escape the woods alive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Native cultures throughout the World thrived in such environments, and many continue to do so today. They studied and learned from Nature. This knowledge enabled them to live in balance with their surroundings and build a strong relationship with the natural world.
During this segment of the program students will learn of wide variety of traditional wilderness living skills perfected by Hunter – Gatherer societies throughout the world. You’ll learn how to construct a variety of short and long-term shelters. Your connection with nature will deepen as you learn: how to make fire by friction, using several different methods. You’ll learn to hunt, trap and successfully forage for food. Water purification, traditional cooking and food preservation techniques will be covered in-depth as well. You'll learn how to make countless tools, including stone axes, knives and projectile points. The manufacture of traditional (primitive) pottery and fiber technology (from plants and animals) will enable you to provide for all of your needs.
Wild Plant Studies – Herbalism and Ethnobotany
An intimate knowledge of plants is perhaps one of the most important aspects of Wilderness skills. Nearly all of your outdoor needs have something to do with plants. If you’re walking past food, medicine, tools and not recognizing it, you’ve just made your situation more difficult.
In this segment of the program you will learn how to properly identify, collect, prepare delicious nutritious meals, and make effective medicines from the plant world. This property is extremely bio-diverse and students will be encouraged to collect wild plants and incorporate them into their daily diet. Well over 100 plants and trees will be covered in this comprehensive portion of class. Traditional gathering practices will be incorporated throughout this field of study. Students will be taught what it means to be a steward of the land…living in balance as caretakers and understanding their deep connection and their place, in the natural world.
Naturalist Training - A Closer Look
Too often outdoor programs fail to teach students about the vast worlds of nature. We tend to only look at the obvious and large things. As a result we miss “the bigger picture” the glue that creates and holds it all together.
Students will be introduced to that vast world in this segment of the program. From the perspective of micro- biology, students are encouraged to take closer look at the flora and fauna of nature. This largely untaught and unnoticed world will amaze you. You’ll look at animals, plants and insects through new eyes, in a way that will forever change your perspective of life. We’ll study several different habitats, including woodland, stream and field.
Tracking – The Art of Seeing
Tracking is perhaps the most powerful awareness tool we can develop. Tracking is much more than looking at tracks in the mud and takes on many forms. Most of us walk through life as though we’re wearing blinders. We fail to see what’s really there, mostly because our schools don’t teach such things.
You’ll begin to see the world holistically in this segment using many of the skills developed during your previous awareness lessons. Through lessons of animal sign tracking, you’ll learn how to read the landscape and understand how animals lives ebb and flow as they relate to their natural environment. You’ll be amazed to discover just how many woodland neighbors you really have! Proper field identification and interpretation of animal sign is the main focus of this segment.
Native Scout – The Warrior Within
Native American Scouts were the eyes and ears of their tribes. Their highly honed survival and heightened awareness skills were critical in insuring the safety of their people. You’ll learn how to move through the woods unheard and unseen using ancient techniques perfected over thousands of years. You’ll begin to understand and feel the pulse of the forest and your place within it. Learning to become one with nature is the eventual goal for this training.
These seven comprehensive fields of study are truly powerful. The real wisdom however is learning to incorporate these lessons into our everyday lives. These lessons help us discover who we really are and clarify our own unique paths in life. It encourages us to strengthen our relationship with the earth and each other. As a result, we become passionate about life, build strong local communities as we begin to see the beauty in everything and everyone.
We all are descendants of indigenous people. Without their knowledge, reverence and respect for nature, we simply would not be here today. As we open ourselves to the true power of this wisdom, we realize nature is not separate from us. We are nature and IT is us...
List of Skills
Below is a list of the various skills taught at this program.
Atl- Atls / Darts
Survival Bows / Arrows
Rockworking / Tools
Cordage / Rope
Hunting / Camo
Traps / Trapping
Firemaking / Several Methods
Primitive Cooking / Steam Pit, Rock Oven,
Food Preservation - Drying, Smoking etc.
Wild Edible Plants / Acorn Bread, Ash Cakes, Clay-baking etc.
Medicinal Plants and Preparations
Wooden Bowls / Spoons
Hidetanning / entire use of animal
Advanced Awareness / Tracking