Delve deeply into primitive living, cultivate a caretaker relationship with the land, build community skills and activate your own wild awareness.
The 2021 program runs from June 1st to October 31st
An Overview of the Program:
Throughout the entire program you will live with a community of human and non-human creatures in a primitive village in the woods. Each day you will learn new skills that enrich and inform your daily life. That may look like giving away your old hat after making your own felted one or adding a new wild food to your meal. We personalize our instruction to cater to your passions and innate gifts. If you find yourself on fire about a certain craft or skill, we will empower you to nurture it. Igniting that passion is what is so powerful about these skills. They change you. They show you who you’ve always been. This program was created to offer a foundation that supports your vision far beyond the end of your time here.
Part of what creates such a powerful experience is becoming a caretaker of the earth. No matter what you are learning, this way of interacting with the land is woven over and under all we do. Using your mind, your senses, and the feelings in your body, you will discover how to let the land speak through you. When you can channel this ability, it changes how you harvest the willow for baskets, what you do with the hide scraps from hide tanning, and which groundnut roots you dig up for dinner. You become aligned with the land in a deep way. It’s a profound relationship that all of our early ancestors had with the land they were born from. It is your birthright to reclaim it for yourself.
Another important component of the program is community skills. Living in a resilient and fulfilling community is a skill set that is impossible to perfect but empowering to work on. You will learn new ways to connect and support each other, and more authentic ways of communicating. We will celebrate our accomplishments and break-throughs together, and learn to see things from each other’s perspectives. You will use disagreements as opportunities to learn about each other’s needs. Committing to experiencing joys and challenges together creates a deeply rooted trust, which is a true treasure in our modern world. As the seasons pass, we will evolve into an integrative team with the power and flow of the hive mind.
Along with community skills, you will start to retrain your senses. You will open to a wild awareness through carefully designed activities. Every day when you wake, you will feel a little more in tune with your surroundings. You will start feeling the forest instead of only seeing it. The animals soften into your presence and you soften into theirs. You eat with a coal burned bowl made from a fallen branch of the cedar tree that you walk by every day, and your gratitude for that tree runs deep. You can feel the cedar in your bones. Each of these skills, whether it is tanning hides or shelter building, activates a connection that your body has been longing to remember. It is up to you to return home.
List of Skills Covered:
- Land stewarding and care-taking techniques
- Permaculture and Nurtureculture
- Sensory Awareness Skills
- Debris hut and other short term survival shelters
- Long term shelter and primitive shelter techniques
- Natural Building
- Blacksmithing Knives
- Buckskin, bark tanning, fur-on pelts and other ancient ways of tanning skins.
- Community Skills
- Making Primitive Clothing & Sewing techniques
- Traditional felting techniques and felted clothing
- Wild fibers, primitive spinning tools & weaving on handmade looms
- Water procurement, purification, storage and utilization
- Bark, Rawhide, Wood and Gourd watertight containers
- Primitive Pottery
- Knife and tool skills/safety
- Basketry; made of wild gathered materials such as birch or willow.
- Kayaking, canoeing, sailing
- Friction fire Methods; bow drill, hand drill, pump drill and others.
- Fire making/tending skills and coal carrying
- Primitive Cooking
- Wild edible harvesting, processing and cooking
- Wild Edibles from the sea
- Medicinal Plants and medicine making
- Hunting and Trapping techniques
- Rawhide crafts and braiding techniques
- Animal processing
- Bone tool making
- Stone tools; pecked and ground as well as flintknapped
- Camping/tarp skills and knot tying
- Bow making
- Camouflage, tactical awareness, concealment, and stealth skills
- Tracking and animal behavior
- Bird Language
We teach most of these workshops ourselves, but value bringing in various guest instructors to share their wealth of knowledge and unique perspectives. We particularly focus on hiring Penobscot tribal members as they are the original stewards of this land.
Excursions you will embark on:
- Exploring Moosehead lake region
- Wild rice harvesting overnight
- Survival trip on one of Maine’s islands
Sleeping: For the first part of the program you will be living in the sleeping setup you bring with you. You can build a shelter after the short-term shelter building session if you choose, or take a turn sleeping in the long-term shelter we will collectively build later in the program. You may also choose to sleep in your tent during the whole program if you would rather focus your energy on other skills.
Kitchen Setup: We have a primitive cooking setup with a fire pit and rocket stoves to cook on. The kitchenware is provided and you will work towards making your own bowls and utensils to use throughout the program. There is drinking water and sink setup gravity fed by spring water.
Bathroom/Shower Setup: There is a primitive composting toilet system and tick checking station. For bathing, you can choose between a small pond or two different streams. There is even a waterfall five minutes upstream if you want a primitive high-powered shower on a hot summer day.
Food: We provide the majority of food. There are gardens full of cultivated plants available to you, and many areas throughout the land, neighboring land, and the ocean that you can harvest wild food from daily. We buy some bulk food from the local coop, and what produce we cannot harvest from the land we get from local farms. You will be hunting, trapping, scavenging road kill, fishing, or butchering your own animals for meat. Please plan financially for things like coffee, personal snacks, or meals out. All participants take turns cooking meals for the group.
Monthly, Daily and Weekly Rhythm:
Our immersion program for 2021 runs from June 1st to October 31st. The progression of these skills follows the sacred order– awareness, shelter, water, fire, food. We move through each one on a macro and micro scale as the season progress, until you feel a deep-rooted reverence and competence for what it means to live with the earth.
The following is to give you an idea of the different components and general rhythm of what your day to day will look like. It is lose framework that we use to make sure your time living here is a good balance between intensive learning, play, and free time.
Your Sit Spot: This is your sacred learning place that we encourage you to visit almost every day through out your 5 month experience. Here you will practice different awareness techniques, meditations, giving offerings, care-take, and sitting quietly observing what is happening around you. This place becomes a portal for you to learn how to be in relationship with the land on many levels.
Morning instruction block: Most weekday mornings there is a three-hour workshop block, which is usually a mix of hands on skills and educational lectures.
Afternoon open hours: Each weekday afternoon there is a two-hour block where you can work on any skill you’re feeling especially passionate about with one-on-one help from the instructors. The afternoon open hours could also turn into another workshop block for certain skills that need more time and attention.
Check-in meeting/community meal: once a week we hold a check in meeting to get a sense of how people are feeling, what they would like more/less of, and some show and tell from the past week; followed by a big community wide potluck meal.
Day-long excursions or immersions: One day a week is reserved for off site excursions, like sailing out to fish for mackerel while exploring Maine’s islands, or intensive blocks that need a larger chunk of time, like building debris huts or softening hides.
Rest Day: Rest days are for taking care of personal needs, going on group outings to see some of Maine’s special places or working on projects that you’re excited about. Saturday and Sunday are the designated rest days.
Community activity or game: One night a week we play fun stealth games, listen to a guest speaker, or engage in fun naturalist activities like star gazing or going owl spotting/calling.
- 7am:Wake up & spend half hour doing a sit spot.
- 8am: Communal Breakfast
- 9:00am–12:00pm: Tracking in leaf litter.
- 12:00pm-3pm Communal Lunch, rest time or a short canoe out to catch fish for dinner.
- 3pm-5pm: Hanging out together, weaving a birch plaited baskets or folding pine bark baskets.
- 6pm: Communal Dinner.
- 7pm: Awareness activities and fire stalk.
Cost & Financial Aid:
The cost of the Program is a sliding scale of $5,900-$7,900.
We want this program to be available to anyone who feels called to be part of this experience. We ask you honestly evaluate whether or not you can afford it, and to stretch financially to do so (keeping in mind we need financial compensation to run the best version of this program). If the cost still is not doable for you, we offer payment plans, up to $1500 in work exchange, and scholarships. Black, indigenous, non-binary people and women qualify to get $1,000 or more off the cost of the program. If you want to donate to the scholarship program to help someone else attend, please contact us!
Want to Sign up for the Program?
We have an intensive application process that helps us get to know you better & learn about why you’re signing up for our program.
After we have receive your application, we will have a phone interview so we can ask questions and answer any questions you may have. We also require you to visit our school prior to the program to meet you, take a tour of the land, and make sure it’s a good fit for both you & us.
Click here to fill out the application!