How and Where to Learn Traditional Skills

How and Where to Learn Traditional Skills Living a simple or self-reliant life, or off the grid to urban homesteading to survivalist is not easy. It t...
Author: Clifford Martin
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How and Where to Learn Traditional Skills Living a simple or self-reliant life, or off the grid to urban homesteading to survivalist is not easy. It takes patience, work and persistence. The rewards are the kind that feed the soul and spirit and not necessarily the pocket book. Many people living the self-reliant life are what one could call “land rich and cash poor”. Yet I have never meet anyone living this type of life who is unhappy, that isn’t to say I have not met some with wanderlust but they are indeed happy, content and satisfied! “If “If it is to be, it is up to me.” William H. Johnsen

If you are thinking of going back to the land and living a self-reliant life or you are a Prepper or survivalist looking to learn skills to help you comfortably get through any emergency or disaster then you are probably wondering where and how you can learn these skills that you lack. If you are like me, you are a visual person and do best with hands on instruction or “book/online” courses with video and plenty of how-to pictures. Over the years I have been lucky enough to participate in a number of activities, camps and wilderness outings to learn quite a few self-reliant skills. Since some of my friends are now looking for these types of learning activities I got to wondering where can one learn this now, today? So I did some research (went to REI, asked my homesteading, backing, scouting and S&R friends, as well as exploring the internet) and this is what I have found that sound worthwhile. “Good luck happens when preparedness meets opportunity” Unknown

Before we get into the various schools and camps lets look at some other Options to Learning Necessary Traditional Skills County and State Fairs are great places and many offer 1-2 hour long mini-classes in various traditional skills from weaving, basket making to cast iron cooking and leather craft. Be sure to check out any 4H and Future Farmers booths/barns and then talk with the entrants. I have learned so much about various animals, etc. from these people that the last 5 times I have attended, I have taken a notebook and tape recorder so I couldn’t forget the information! 1|Page

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Think the big ones and make a vacation out of it like: Calgary Stampede Alberta Canada Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo Wyoming I’ve been to the one in Oklahoma too and learned a lot while having a blast, but can’t remember the name it. Don’t forget Mountain Man Rendezvous either where they often let people “sign on” just to learn like: Mountain Man Rendezvous Crazy Crow Fort Bridger Rendezvous Wyoming Rocky Mountain National Rendezvous

If you see a Colonial, Frontier or Pioneer Days event, stop in. Many offer learning opportunities. There are tons of old forts and colonial villages that have either learning demonstrations or hands-on classes all along the East Coast and New England. The plains and western states have a variety of “frontier” villages and forts too. Military Re-enactment events are another source for learning experiences and instruction. Many Indian Powwow, Pueblo , Tribe and Cultural Centers or Museums often have hands-on and instructional “shows” on traditional skills and crafts at their various festivals, powwows or cultural centers that are open to the public. Gathering of Nations United Tribes International Powwow Here in New Mexico at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center I have learned how to bake bread in an earth oven and Indian Fry Bread from scratch, as well as some weaving techniques.


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Nature Centers and museums are another source of summer learning opportunities for children and adults alike. At the Rio Grande Nature Center I learned how to garden the Pueblo way with a dry desert waffle garden utilizing the Three Sister companion planting method. The internet, books and magazines are always ready to teach us anything we are willing to search for, read and do. For any Prepper, survivalist or self-reliance seeker the following magazines are a must no matter how skilled or unskilled you are. Backwoods Home The Backwoodsman Country Side Wilderness Way Back Home Sorry but Mother Earth News ( since it was sold by its originator back in the 80’s, has become too yippie and yuppie to be consistent. Scan it in the store before purchasing or you could end up with a glossy “greenwashed” magazine. Older copies from before the sale are very good so be sure to check garage sales and flea markets for these. "The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” Edward W. Smith

Classes, Schools, Colleges and Camps

Essential Education Hands On Colonial School of Homesteading or 3|Page

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P. O. Box 869 Elm Mott, Texas 76640 (254) 754-9678 e-mail: [email protected] I have spoken with a family that spent a week here and they loved it! Not only that, but had this to say: “This “school of homesteading” offers a complete curriculum for sustainable living skills from their model four-acre homestead located within their larger 510 acre working farm. Located in Elm Mott, Texas, they offer single day classes covering specific topics like owning a family goat, the family cow (course pictured above) and beekeeping, as well as multiday classes like their three-day homesteading course that covers everything from gardening and dairy animals to fencing and water supply. Single-day classes are about $75-$85 and multi-day homesteading courses are $155 – $250. Accommodation is not provided. Homestead Heritage is part of the Educational Ministry of Heritage Ministries, which is a Christian community dedicated to preserving and nurturing those principles and values and applying them with new understanding to the present and future, to create a viable continuity from one generation to the next. Although we found no evidence of “preachiness” from literature and descriptions of their homestead courses, this might be something for those of other faiths to think about before making their selection of a homesteading school.”

Alderleaf Wilderness College Alderleaf Wilderness College 18715 299th Ave SE Monroe, WA 98272. Phone: (360) 793-8709. Office hours are typically 9am to 5pm Pacific time on weekdays. Email Contact Form: I have been getting their Newsletters for over a year now and they are extremely informational. If I had the funds I would try to make one or two of their working classes. I have also taken one of their online classes and it was well worth the bucks.


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Hawk Circle Wilderness Education (camps, classes, workshops, college) Hawk Circle Wilderness Education Earth Mentoring Institute P.O. Box 506 3496 State Highway 166 Cherry Valley, NY 13320 Phone: (607)264-3396 (Main Office) (607)264-3256 (Fax) E-mail: [email protected] (Main Office) [email protected] (Director) A friend recommended this one and once I visited the web site I can see why they loved it.

Outdoor Leadership & Traditional Skills Camps Portland, OR Phone 503-559-2825 Ask for Molly, Administrative Director Mailing office only (not our class location) 1424 SE 76th Avenue Portland, Oregon 97215 Online email: I actually attended one of their 3 day classes when I lived in Oregon and it was fantastic. Schools of Self-Reliance by Christopher Nyerges One of my favorite wilderness skills writers for a couple of my fav magazines (Wilderness Way & Back Woodsman), Christopher Nyerges seems to be involved in classes and camps via several sources. 5|Page

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The courses listed on the various sites seem to cover the same subjects: Tracking - Braintanning - First-Aid Communications - Atlatl making - Gourd Bowl Making ($10 material fee) - Unarmed Self-defense - Bow-Making ($100 material fee) - Trapping - Permaculture - Survival Hunting - Knot craft and Tarps - Arrow Making - Fire-making - Travel Safety - Plant Identification and uses - Knife craft and sharpening - Survival Kits…and more !

School of Self-Reliance by Christopher Nyerges or Christopher can be reached at: Box 41834 Eagle Rock, CA 90041 or Los Angeles, CA 90041 626-791-3217 or 323-255-9502 [email protected] for schedule updates. Also see Classes listed at For books/store see www.Christopher Dirttime Survival & Self-Reliance Adults (18 and over) …..$250 Spouse or mate…………$160 13-17…………………..$15 (must be accompanied by a paying adult) 12 and under…………..FREE (must be accompanied by paying adult, limit 1 child per paying adult) Recommended by Back Woodsman Magazine.

Earlham College Wilderness Programs 6|Page

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Wilderness Programs 801 National Road West, Drawer 87 Richmond, IN 47374 phone:(765) 983-1327; fax: (765) 983-1207 [email protected] Saint Michael’s College Wilderness Programs One Winooski Park Colchester, Vermont, USA 05439 802.654.2000 Prescott College Wilderness Orienteering Program 220 Grove Avenue Prescott, AZ 86301 Tucson Center 2233 E. Speedway Boulevard Tucson, AZ 85719 These are actual Wilderness Guide degree programs with some single semester continuing ed type non-degree classes. Western Colorado State College Wilderness Pursuits Director of Wilderness Pursuits Janna Hansen [email protected] Phone (970) 943-7051 Fax (970) 943-2702 Email [email protected] Address 120 College Center Western State College Gunnison, CO 81231 These I am told are wilderness instructor led outings open to the public and discounted to students of the college.


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University of Montana Wilderness Institute Wilderness Institute College of Forestry and Conservation The University of Montana Missoula, Montana 59812 Tel: (406)243-5361; E-mail: [email protected] This again appears to be degree programs and if I read correctly, when the hands-on outings occur the outings themselves are open to the public. Lake Tahoe Community College Wilderness Program For More Information, Contact: David Reichel [email protected] College Dr, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 530-541-4660x463 This was recommended by a Ski Patrol acquaintance of Lake Tahoe. Wilderness Medical Associates First Responders Course Central Michigan University Three semester hours for undergraduate or graduate credit, as well as educator certificate renewal or state continuing education (depending on your state's requirements). Tuition $975, plus a one-time fee of $50. Washington County Community College (Calais, Maine) WCCC offers 4 WCCC college credits for the WFR course. Tuition $200.


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This course is offered in two locations (as noted above) and was recommended by a Search & Rescue friend up in Maine. The course centers on wilderness first aid and survival when getting to, assessing, treating and then transporting a wounded person out of the wilderness.

Outdoor Leadership & Traditional Skills Camps Portland, OR General phone 503-559-2825 Ask for Molly, Administrative Director Mailing office only (not our class location) 1424 SE 76th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97215 Online email: LifeSong Wilderness Adventures Camp/School Contact Mark Wienert, Jr LifeSong Wilderness Adventures Phone 530-859-0539 Snail Mail 73569 Hwy 101 North Bend, OR 97459 Email online form: Outdoor E & T and LifeSong Adventures were recommended by a friend when I lived in OR but I personally never had a chance to utilize them. My friend stated they were quite extensive and worth every penny.


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Wilderness Awareness School Email online form: Phone: 425-788-1301. Office hours are generally 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Pacific time, Monday - Friday. P.O. Box 219, PMB 137 Duvall, WA 98019 I liked what I read but no one I am acquainted with has ever attended, but then they stated they haven’t heard anything bad about them either.

Wilderness Rythms Courses and Camps According to an acquaintance the workshops range from 40 minute slideshows, to 14-day, intensive, wilderness skills camps and they do customized individual skills or packaged courses as well. Contact: Chad Clifford [email protected] Lanark, Ontario, Canada Cell: 613 812-3568

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Teaching Drum Outdoor School 11 month hands on program with certification. email at [email protected] Teaching Drum Outdoor School 7124 Military Road Three Lakes, WI 54562 - 9333 phone: 715-546-2944 Spirit In the Wind Nebraska Classes, books – centers on flintknapping Doris and Rick Hamilton "Spirit in the Wind " is Richard's Lakota name. [email protected] One of my homesteading friends said that if you want to know Native American survival skills this is the place to go.

Boulder Outdoor Survival School PO Box 1590 Boulder, CO 80306 303 555 9779 11 | P a g e

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Online Email form: This came highly recommended by a Search & Rescue acquaintance. Wilderness Learning Center Contact us at [email protected] 435 Sandy Knoll Road Chateaugay, NY 12920 518 497 3179 Headwaters Outdoor School Email: [email protected] Phone: (831) 423-3830 Address: P.O. Box 1698, Santa Cruz, CA 95061-1698

Midwest Native Skills Institute Email Address: [email protected] Mailing Address: Midwest Native Skills Institute, Inc. P.O. Box 31764 Cleveland, Ohio 44131 Phone: 1-440-526-3672 (Inside Ohio) 1-888-886-5592 (Toll Free Outside Ohio) These came recommended by a homesteading Tennessee friend who had friends who attended the above three “schools” and liked them.

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Jack Mountain Survival School Maine Tim Smith Phone: 207-518-8804 Email: [email protected] Skype: jmbushcraft Mailing Address: Jack Mountain Bushcraft PO Box 77 Ashland, ME 04732 My daughter recommended this one. Earth Skills Classes Classes in Tracking, Survival, Traditional Skills and Earth Philosophy By eMail [email protected] By Phone (661) 245-0318 By Mail EARTH SKILLS 1113 Cougar Court Frazier Park, CA 93225

Wolf College & Camp / / Our mailing address is our home office: 1026 14th St. SW, Puyallup WA 98371. call Chris or Kim anytime at 425-248-0253 (cell) or 253-604-4681 (office) Email: [email protected] This one was recommended by a Pen-Pal (Yeah I like to read and write hardcopy).

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Roots School Survival ROOTS School LLC 802-456-1253 PO Box 932, Montpelier VT, 05601 Online email My daughter’s boyfriend liked this one.

Willow Winds Traditional Skills Workshops 962 F-30 Mikado, MI 48745 989 736 3487 Online email: A cousin in Illinois recommended this one. "People only see what they are prepared to see." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson 14 | P a g e

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More recommendations from Apple Family Farm (Indiana) For three generations, the Apple Family Farm Store has been providing a glimpse into the past for city folk traveling east of Indianapolis. Although the information is difficult to find on their website, they do offers homesteading classes, which aim to teach beginning farmers how to avoid the many pitfalls that could lead to failure, disappointment and discouragement during the first few years of homesteading and hobby farming. They offer hands-on training on one, two and three day classes on subjects like owning a dairy cow, goats, keeping chickens, grazing, butchering, logging, soap making and even marketing and bookkeeping for your own country farm store.

Muller’s Lane Farm (Illinois) Another Christian-based family farm offering classes on homesteading, the Muller’s teach visitors everything from driving a draft horse to soap making and canning. They chose to include these classes at the requests of visitors participating in their farm tours. We couldn’t find much in the way of prices on their website so you’ll just have to contact them and ask. Muller’s Lane Farm is located in Rock Falls, IL.

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The Institute of Urban Homesteading (California) Taking a different twist on homesteading classes, this school in Oakland, CA understands that not everyone who is interested in living a simpler, healthier life can live out in the country. Urban Homesteading is a growing phenomenon similar to the movement in which people living in city neighborhoods and suburbs are turning their small sub-acre plots into thriving vegetable gardens and small urban homesteads capable of providing enough food to feed their entire family. A classic example of success in urban homesteading is the Dervaes family’s Path to Freedom project ( You can learn how to do what they’re doing by taking an urban homesteading class in Oakland. Pioneer School of Homesteading (Michigan) The Quaker Hill Farm is another Christian-based (Quakers) farm that offers homesteading classes to the public. Located in Harrisville, MI, the farm offers courses for about $75 each on topics like beekeeping, breadmaking, growing and using medicinal herbs, raising poultry, basic homesteading skills and many others. And who better to learn how to homestead from than the Quakers?

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Self-Reliance Resources (North Carolina) If you are unable to travel or take time off work for a hands-on homesteading class, you may want to check out some of the ebooks, free downloads and audiotapes offered by Kathleen Lamont of Back to Basics and Self-Reliance Resources. Kathleen also offers single-day, $40 homesteading classes from her farm in Western North Carolina. My wife and I just got back from vacation in that area and, let me tell you, it is BEAUTIFUL! “Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.” changes.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Here are some Wilderness survival schools recommended by Note: Some of these have already been listed above. U.S. Wilderness Awareness Schools National not-for-profit environmental education organization. Location: Headquarters Duvall, Washington. Alderleaf Wilderness College

Offers innovative wilderness, tracking, and nature programs. Location: Headquarters Monroe, Washington. Courses all over the Pacific Northwest. TrackersTEAMS Full time wilderness survival and skills program. Location: Headquarters Portland, Oregon TrackersNW A Pacific Northwest wilderness survival skills school. Location: Headquarters Portland, Oregon. Bay Area, California.

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Roots School Offer courses in; Traditional Survival, Awareness and Tracking, Ancient Living Skills. Location: East Calais, Vermont Reevis Mountain School homepage: Location: Arizona (Roosevelt) Aboriginal Living Skills School homepage: Location: Arizona (Prescott)

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Headwaters Outdoor School homepage: Location: California Lifesong Wilderness Adventures homepage: Location: California , Oregon Survival Training School of California homepage: Location: California

The Tracker School Location: California , Florida , New Jersey Wilderness Survival Institute homepage: Location: Colorado (Loveland)

ReWild Eugene homepage: Location: Oregon (Eugene) Green Earth Survival School homepage: Location: South Florida Global Principles Survival School homepage: Location: Florida (about 30 miles north of Panama City) Byron Kerns Survival homepage: Location: Florida

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First Earth Wilderness School's homepage: Location: Missouri (Missouri Ozarks)

The Wilderness Learning Center homepage: Location: New York State (350 miles North of New York City) Survival Resources homepage: Loation: New York State (Hudson Valley) NORTH CAMP Outdoor Survival Skills homepage: Location: New York State (North Central Catskill Mountains)

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Earth School homepage: Location: North Carolina (Tryon) Global Survival Institute homepage: Location: Ohio Midwest Native Skills Institute homepage: Location: Ohio (Windsor)

Oregon Peak Adventures homepage: Location: Oregon (Portland) Peak Survival homepage: Location: Vermont (Pittsfield) Earthwalk Northwest homepage: Location: Washington (Issaquah)

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CANADA Arctic Response homepage: Location: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories Nunavik Arctic Survival Training Center homepage: Location: Nunavik - Puvirnituq Survival in the Bush, Inc homepage: Location: Ontario WSC Survival School, Inc. homepage: Location: Ontario – Kitchener

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EUROPE Woodsmoke – Bushcraft & Wilderness Survival "Woodsmoke specialises in wilderness bushcraft and survival skills training. Location: UK - Lake District. The Coastal Survival School homepage: Bushcraft and Survival courses Location: UK Wild Man Wild Food homepage: Foraging courses - how to identify, gather and cook wild plants. Location: UK - Canterbury, Kent. Woodlore - School of Wilderness Bushcraft homepage: Location: UK - East Sussex

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The Trueways Survival School homepage: Location: UK Wildwood Bushcraft homepage: Location: UK - Sussex Forest Knights homepage: Location: UK - Sussex Bushcraft Expeditions homepage: Location: UK - Beaminster, Dorset WILD-LIVE homepage: Location: Ireland & U.K

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Gazelle homepage: Location: Ireland & Scotland EXTRA - Bushcraft & Survival homepage: Location: Netherland

ASIA 29028 Adventure world homepage: Adventure and Survival Education Training Camps Location: India AUSTRALIA Bob Cooper Outback Survival Pty Ltd homepage: Location: Western Australia Megalong Valley Bush Farm Old Days Old Ways School Programme Megalong Australian Heritage Centre, Megalong Rd, Megalong Valley Blue Mountains NSW 2785, Phone (02) 4787 8188, Fax (02) 4787 9116

*** Hey I know some of these are “out of country” for us Americans, but some of us may be able to afford this kind of trip and get a real nice vacation along with the wilderness survival skills in one shot. Sorry, outside of Canada, I can’t afford to take this a trip with this kind of distance. Sure wish I could though. 26 | P a g e

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“Despair is most often the offspring of illill-preparedness” Don Williams Jr

For the complete list with testimonials see How and Where to Learn Traditional Skills @

So get out there and take a vacation that is not only fun but can help you when the unthinkable happens. TNT A 50 something, no longer so urban or in NM, prepping homesteader ;-}

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