· Dates: 2020
· Max. Size: 8
· Tuition: $1550
Two Week Bushcraft Intensive.
In the last few years, we’ve seen the preliminary results of studies on the effects of technology and social media on youth. Both aspects have great potential as tools, but when overused have the potential to cause a lot of stress, particularly in young people. These thoughts are the basis for this course offered by School Of The Forest. We’re offering this two-week canoe expedition in the North Maine woods as an antidote to these problems. In this course, students will learn about camp life and the basics of canoeing at our field school, before setting off on a trip down the river. All of our courses touch on the “Self” aspect of our educational philosophy, but this one, in particular, will focus on it in depth. Students will be required to keep phones in airplane mode while at the field school, and once we’re on the river we’ll be beyond the reach of cell signals. Students will keep in-depth journals about their day to day experiences, as well as keeping a record of food and water intake. They’ll take part in “Sit spot” exercises each morning, help with cooking their own meals and build shelters for themselves. All of this sounds daunting, but this once in a lifetime experience will provide a solid basis of skills for outdoor living and a relaxing time away from the everyday buzz of technology that’s part of young people’s lives in the modern world.
The outdoor living and bushcraft skills we teach don’t exist in a vacuum, they come together and create a truly unique experience of living with the land. The best way to take part in this way of life is to experience an extended period of time living with the skills as you learn them. At Jack Mountain, the nine-week semester programs are life altering for students, and we want to bring that experience to young people as well.
This two-week program is a chance to get a really in-depth look at an outdoor lifestyle. This is an immersion program, students will live in shelters they’ve built themselves, cook every meal for themselves over an open fire, and gain a deeper understanding of the land than they would at a weekend course.
What Sets School Of The Forest Programs Apart
There are plenty of bushcraft and outdoor education programs you can choose from. Few, if any offer the experience we do. Our programs are centered around the concept of “Non Scholae sed vitae discimus”, or “we do not learn for school but for life”. This means that we aren’t just teaching students a few skills that they can master in a weekend and then forget about. We’re offering students the chance to learn the skills and knowledge required for a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors.
“longterm courses that put those skills into context daily”
This is achieved by running longterm courses that put those skills into context daily, approaching ecological studies in a hands-on way and maintaining an educational philosophy that encourages living with the land in the closest way possible. We practice what we teach as well. Our instructors live at the field school full time and because of that are constantly increasing their working knowledge of what we teach by living on the land and using what we teach everyday. This is why we believe a long-term residential program is so effective. No matter how much time you’ve spent in the outdoors, there’s always more to learn and understand, regardless of your age or experience level.
Curriculum: Deep Knowledge, Based On Experience
Unlike short courses, the Bushcraft Intensive is not a show and tell type of program. Students receive intensive instruction, but then it’s is used and lived until it becomes second nature. The emphasis is on doing. Our curriculum is designed as a cumulative sequence of learning experiences where the resulting outcome is greater than the sum of the parts. This is a much different approach than assembling a collection of random skills and activities. Our goal isn’t just that a student is able to “do” a skill. Instead, it’s to develop their knowledge, attitude and physical skills into a cohesive whole. We draw on:
Bushcraft. The art of living in wild places with minimal gear, or life without infrastructure. Includes building shelters, making fires, using axes, knives and saws, cooking over a brush fire, living out under the blue sky, etc. Become comfortable being part of the landscape. A subset of bushcraft is wilderness survival. Learn the skills needed to survive in the forest during all seasons.
Ecology. We’re not talking about skimming the surface; we’re talking about getting deep. You learn edible plants by identifying them in the field, then incorporating them into your diet. You learn about mammals and their tracks then identify them in the field. You study the weather and learn to predict it using observational forecasting. You study the night sky and learn to navigate using it. You learn static knowledge, then put it into action.
Outdoor Leadership & Guide Training. The soft skills are what make or break a trip. Learn the skills of group dynamics, decision making, risk management and more. More important than the individual skills, learn to think and act like a leader by modeling after professional guides who have led hundreds of trips, both summer and winter.
Crafting. Where our hands meet the natural world. Learn to make useful items from forest materials. Projects include bowls, saw frames, backpacks, sleeping pads, rope, baskets, knives and crooked knives, and much more. Occasionally we cross paths with people who will refer to this as “arts and crafts”. It’s much more than that. It’s building what you need from natural materials. It’s what changes you from being a mindless consumer to being an enlightened producer. Nothing makes you more self-reliant than doing and making it yourself.
Expedition Canoe Skills. Many people have been in a canoe, but few have unlocked the potential of this ancient craft. Learn how to use your whole body to paddle powerfully, hour after hour, day after day. Learn the art of poling to travel upstream and down and have total control over a loaded 18 or 20-foot canoe. Learn to control your boat from shore in a big rapid by lining and tracking. The canoe is the most versatile watercraft ever invented. You’ll learn it’s language as you travel a hundred miles on Maine’s remote waterways, and it will forever become a part of you.
Sustainability. Our field school is a working off-grid homestead. There are countless lessons you’ll learn by living the lifestyle. You’ll also have formal instruction on stationary and portable solar power systems, composting everything, planning, planting and keeping a garden, low-tech solar hot water, using the sun to cook food, using wood to cook on a rocket stove and wood-fired cook stove, drying and storing food, processing wild foods, and much, much more. If you want to learn to live without infrastructure and build or improvise your own, this is a great place to do it. Along the way you’ll learn that it’s a graceful process filled with fun, not suffering.
This program is a truly immersive experience, students cook every meal over a fire, and sleep outside for the duration of the course. Each skill and technique they learn can be applied immediately to their day to day lives on the semester. The first week will be spent learning and practicing these methods and ways of living, and in the final week, we take what we’ve learned on trail for a 4 day-long canoe trip. This week is where all the bushcraft and outdoor living skills that students have practiced comes together and is used in the context of a life outdoors. This is where we set ourselves apart as a program. Students are not guided in the traditional sense. They are taught the skills necessary to go out in the bush, and then given the opportunity to try out what they’ve learned with zero infrastructure.
Intended Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the course, students will:
1. Demonstrate skill proficiency and extensive experience in a wide variety of bushcraft and primitive skills, including fire, shelter, outdoor cooking, observational weather forecasting, carving, basketry, cordage and natural bindings, navigation, and the use of the axe, saw, and knife.
2. Demonstrate knowledge and skill in traditional canoe skills, including paddling, poling, safely running whitewater, portaging, and other related skills.
3. Have a working knowledge of basic, intermediate, and advanced bushcraft and wilderness survival.
5. Assemble and maintain a toolkit with which they can make a variety of different crafts.
6. Navigate by map and compass, and also by using barehand methods.
7. Build a strong foundation of nature knowledge about the weather, plants, the stars and constellations, mammals and their tracks, fish, etc.
8. Document daily progress with individual skills in their logbook.
There are a lot of courses out there labeling themselves as “intensives”. While it’s great to go take a weekend, or weeklong course to learn bushcraft and outdoor living skills, we believe that these skills really only become deep-seated when used on a daily basis for a long period of time. The length of the course also allows us to implement a week on trail once the skills are learned. This means that students get to see the ease with which a few simple tools and a good knowledge base will allow them to live well in any outdoor setting. What this means for the student is that when they leave our courses, they have a skill set that will let them practice true self-reliance in any environment, and know how to take care of themselves for the rest of their lives, no matter where life takes them.
Media Related To The Wilderness Living Semester
Our Classroom: 61 Acre Off-Grid Field School & The North Maine Woods
Our field school is a working homestead located on the Aroostook River in Masardis, Maine. More info.
Directly across the road from the North Maine Woods, a 3.5 million acre working forest that’s like heaven for sportsmen and wilderness travelers.
This setting allows for a truly unique experience that isn’t readily available at most similar programs. Student’s get to see what life is like without modern infastructure, interact daily with local flora and fauna and walk away with a real understanding of what it means to be a sef reliant human being.
Our field school in Masardis, Maine is 2.5 hours (140 miles) north of Bangor.
TRAVEL INFORMATION – CAR:
You can get directions to Masardis from Google Maps by clicking here and entering your starting point.
LOCAL DRIVING DIRECTIONS:
When you register for a course you’ll receive detailed local driving directions.
TRAVEL INFORMATION – PLANE:
• Northern Maine Regional Airport (PQI) in Presque Isle is 30 miles away. There are daily flights between Presque Isle and Newark, NJ (Newark Liberty International Airport – EWR) provided by United Airlines.
• Bangor International Airport (BGR) is 145 miles away. If flying into Bangor, you can take Cyr Bus Lines to Presque Isle from theConcord Trailways bus station located directly across from the airport.
• Porland Jetport (PWM) is 260 miles away.
• Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) is 365 miles away. For those arriving internationally to Boston, taking the bus to Presque Isle is the most economical way to get here.
TRAVEL INFORMATION – BUS:
Presque Isle is served by Cyr Bus Lines, which has daily bus service to northern Maine from Bangor. For those coming from Boston or points south, take the Concord Coach to Bangor, then get on the Cyr Bus Lines to Presque Isle. Bangor is also served by Greyhound. Please note that there are two bus stations in Bangor: the Greyhound station downtown and the Concord Trailways bus station on Union Street near the airport. You can catch the Cyr bus to Presque Isle from either of these stations.
TAXI FOR AIRPORT AND BUS STATION PICKUP:
Town Taxi can pick you up at either the airport or bus station in Presque Isle and drop you at the field school for $50 (plus tip). Contact them at (207)764-3200. If you’re interested in this service, please schedule in advance.
ACCOMODATIONS IN PRESQUE ISLE (30 MILES)
LOCAL ACCOMODATIONS IN MASARDIS AND ASHLAND
Blackwater Outfitters And Cabin Rentals – (207) 540-4101. Our friends Dick and Melanie Cullins operate Blackwater Outfitters, where you can rent a small cabin with a full kitchen and bathroom for a very reasonable rate. They’re located 5 miles down the road. Wifi friendly.
ACCOMODATIONS IN PORTAGE LAKE (18 MILES)
Dean’s Motor Lodge – (207) 435-3701. 18 miles from the field school, Dean’s is a small hotel with an attached restaurant and bar. Wifi friendly.
HOT SHOWERS AND GYM IN ASHLAND (8 MILES)
HOT SHOWERS IN PORTAGE LAKE (18 MILES)
Dean’s Motor Lodge – (207) 435-3701.
HOT SHOWERS IN PRESQUE ISLE (30 MILES)
• Gentile Hall – On the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus. Showers, 25 yard pool, gym, indoor track, climbing wall. Daily fee.
• Presque Isle Health And Wellness Center – Showers, Pool, Gym. Daily fee.
• Neil E. Michaud Campground – Showers.
Please plan to arrive and depart on the specified days and times. Do not arrive early, and do not plan to stay on-site after the end-date of the program. There are camping and lodging options available nearby for those who get to the area early or want to spend some extra time in northern Maine.