Course Descriptions

Primitive Fire & Cordage   (Class #WW100, Class Size: 10, Prerequisites: None, Tuition: $60)

Fire is as critical to mankind's existence today as it was in the beginning. The challenge to early man was to produce fire using only what was available from nature, and once learned was a skill that was always available to them. Modern man has for the most part lost this basic skill, and is only self-sufficient with respect to fire to the extent that his modern technology (i.e. matches, lighters, etc.) is available, and doesn't fail.

In this one-day class the student will be taught what is known as bow drill and hand drill friction-based fire starting techniques. The class will cover where to build a fire, types of materials to use (for tinder, kindling, firemaking apparatus, etc.), and how to find, gather, and prepare the materials. Each student will build their own firemaking set and use it to create FIRE.

The ability to produce cordage (i.e. string, rope, twine, etc.) using only natural materials is an essential element in wilderness living. Cordage uses are endless and include; lashing for shelter building, fishing line, snare & deadfall trigger systems, weaving fabrics for clothing, primitive fire-starting, and the list goes on. The student will learn how to identify, gather, and prepare the cordage making material, and then will be taught methods for turning the prepared materials into the finished cordage.

Primitive Firemaking - Beyond the Basics   (Class #WW202, Class Size: 12, Prerequisites: WW100 or equivalent, Tuition: $150)

This weekend long class is designed for primitive skills practitioners who have already learned the basics of firestarting with friction-based techniques (bow drill, hand drill), and want to take their skill set to a new level of proficiency.

Other primitive firestarting techniques will be introduced, to include fire saw, fire piston, pump drill, flint & steel, and fire crutch.

In addition to firestarting methods the course will also cover different ways of laying up fires, dealing with wet and difficult conditions, how to carry fire, identification of firemaking trees and plants, and much more.

This is a hands-on class in the woods and fields, where the students will be totally immersed in all aspects of the art of primitive firemaking, and will leave with a greater sense of freedom, and self-reliance, in their ability to create fire using these ancient ways.

Join us for a fun and action-packed weekend. This class will fill quickly so register early.

Wild Edible Plants   (Class #WW101, Class limit: 20, Prerequisites: None, Tuition: $75)

This one-day class covers survival uses of plants as well as practical recipes for wild edible dishes. A great deal of time is spent on field trips identifying, discussing, and gathering wild edible plants. As we enjoy the biodiversity of this area, we also begin to appreciate the wondrous gifts of Creation. All students participate in several projects that include the collection, preparation, and presentation of wild foods as we learn to incorporate natural fare into our daily lives. The day's events will culminate with a meal consisting of the wild edibles, which the students have harvested and prepared. As a group the class will discuss what each of us can do to help preserve our natural world, and ensure the survival of the plants we have come to know and respect.

Ancient Tracking Skills - 1   (Class #WW102, Class limit: 10, Tuition: $100)
Whether the student is a veteran outdoors person, or someone who has had limited opportunity to experience nature closely, this two-day class is designed to take them beyond their current ability in the art and science of tracking.

The students will learn the fundamentals of tracking, including track identification and analysis, animal markings and sign tracking, and how to follow a trail in varius soil conditions. At the end of this class the student will no longer look at tracks as lifeless marks upon the earth, but rather see them as a written language that has recorded in minute detail, information about the track maker, and what was occurring as the tracks were being made. To learn the art of tracking is to experience the awesome grandure of the natural world at a more profound level, expanding one's awareness of the world about them.

Ancient Tracking Skills - 2   (Class #WW201, Class limit: 10, Prerequisites: WW102, Tuition: $150)

This three-day class continues where the Ancient Tracking Skills 1 class ended. The activities and exercises will provide opportunities for the student who is serious about pursuing the art and science of tracking, to raise their ability to a higher level. The subjects covered include a more in depth study of how animals move (gaits), data collection methods, track drawing techniques, night tracking, sound tracking, vision systems, track aging, and detailed interpretations of the stories written on the landscape.

Group and individual exercises provide the means to improve the students tracking ability, and overall awareness. This class is a mix of classroom lecture and field work, with the majority of the time spent in the field.

Wilderness Survival & Nature Awareness - Fundamentals   (Class #WW103, Class limit: 20, Prerequisites: None, Tuition: $150)

Who hasn't at some point in their life daydreamed about running away to the wilderness, if only for a few days, to live dependent only your own wit and skills, and whatever could be found in the natural world? Don't daydream this adventure any longer, rather come and get a sampling of what a grand experience it can be.

This three-day class will teach the student the fundamental skills necessary for living in the wilderness without modern tools, and using only what is provided by nature. The skills that will be covered include shelter building, water collection, food harvesting and preparation, tools, traps and snares, hunting weapons, camouflage, and stalking techniques. The material is presented through lectures, demonstrations, and "hands-on" practice sessions.

Students will be taught how to reclaim their ability to really see, hear, feel, and observe nature on a deeper level. Native American philosophies, developed by living close to the Earth, will be incorporated throughout the class and discussed in relationship to the skills being presented.

Braintanning (Dry-Scrape Method)   (Class #WW104, Class limit: 16, Prerequisites: None, Tuition: $150)

From the earliest of times native peoples have used a process known as "braintanning" to turn animal hides and furs into useful articles such as clothing, footwear, carrying bags, pouches, etc. This three-day class will take the student step-by-step through what is known as the "dry-scrape" method of braintanning.  The students will begin with fresh deer hides, and take them through every step of the conditioning, softening, and smoking process, with the final results being "buckskin" of exceptionally high quality which they will take home with them.  Believing that it is also important to honor the spirit of the animal by ensuring that nothing is wasted, we also lecture on and demonstrate how to harvest and use all parts of the animal including bone, sinew, and rawhide.

Wild Medicinal Plants
  (Class #WW107, Class limit: 10, Prerequisites: None, Tuition: $150)

In this two-day class we honor Earth Mother who provides botanicals for regaining and enhancing health.  Several hours of intensive fieldwork allow for identifying and communicating with the plant people using visual, aural, olfactory, and harmonic senses.  We will gather needed herbs when and where their growth and energy are focused, incorporating respect and gratitude, seeking always to preserve biotic stability and beauty. Working in teams, students will devise an herbal first-aid kit that contains freshly prepared tea blends, tinctures, infused oils, liniment, healing salves, and herbal tonics.  Discussion focuses on water, oil, and spirit-based applications along with aspects of plant preservation and conservation.  While considering natural approaches to health, we encompass the relationship of man and environment, both in wilderness and contemporary settings, expanding our awareness and appreciation of nature.

Practical Knots and Ropework   (Class #WW111, Class limit: 20, Prerequisites: None, Tuition: $60)

The availability of rope (cordage) can be an invaluable resource in everyday life, and that is especially true in a wilderness environment. The usefulness, or versatility of rope however, is limited by the individual's knowledge of knots and ropework. This one-day course will provide the student with a base set of knots, knowledge of when and when not to use them, and associated ropework, for use in an infinite number of practical applications. In a wilderness survival setting those applications could be related to shelter building, fire starting, setting snares and deadfalls, building a primitive come-along, self-rescue, and the list goes on, but this knowledge is every bit as useful when applied to everyday life activities.

This is a hands-on class where in addition to learning how to tie the knots, students will apply them, and appropriate ropework techniques, to devise solutions to a number of real life scenarios

Wilderness Navigation   (Class #WW112, Class limit: 10, Prerequisites: None, Tuition: $150)

According to the dictionary, navigation is "the method of determining position, course, and distance traveled". The explorers of today have many tools available, such as topographical maps, compass, and GPS to aid them in their navigational efforts. Everyone who ventures into the wilderness should know how to properly use these tools. They should also have a "back-up" navigational system available, using elements in nature, in the event the modern tools are not available for any reason

Prior to invention of modern navigational tools, wilderness travelers of ancient times used information readily available in nature to unerringly guide them. This three-day course will focus on the use of the modern day tools of map and compass, as well as the ancient methods for finding one’s way in the wilderness. This course is a mix of classroom lectures, and daytime and nighttime field exercises.  

As part of the map and compass section the student will learn about the different types of compasses, how to interpret/read topographical maps, translate 2-dimensional map images into 3-dimensional images, orient map to compass, determine current location, estimate distances, take a bearing, follow a heading, move precisely through a wilderness area, and much, much more.

In the primitive techniques portion of the class the student will focus on using elements in nature to navigate. These include sun and shadows, moon and stars, wind, trees, plants, rocks, insects, and animals.

Flintknapping with Craig Ratzat
 (Class #WW999, Class limit: 12, Prerequisites: None, Tuition: $150)

Archeological data shows that our earliest ancestors had perfected methods of working with stone to produce necessary and functional tools such as arrowheads, knife blades, spear points, etc., of exceptional quality.  In this two-day "hands-on" class the student will be taken through the fundamentals of flintknapping by one of the country’s premier artisans in this field.  Craig Ratzat, from the state of Oklahoma, has 37 plus years of flintknapping experience, and for more than 20 years has averaged no less than 25 hours per week at his craft.  Through his years of traveling the country attending the annual knap-in gatherings, as a demonstrator and teacher, Craig was instrumental in the early exchange of flintknapping techniques among the different regional groups of practitioners. Besides running his full-time flintknapping related business called "Neo Lithics", he has produced two exceptional flintknapping instructional videos, and also teaches his craft at the University of Oregon, and annually at week-long classes at Glass Buttes, Oregon.  All tools, and materials will be provided by the instructor for this class. Individuals who have their own tools may bring it if they choose.

Wilderness Way School is pleased to offer this opportunity to study with one of today’s masters in this field.  This class has only 12 seats available and fills quickly, so register early.

Earth Wisdom  (Class #WW109, Class limit: 20, Prerequisites: None, Tuition: $250)

With the decline of traditional value systems and guiding principles, it has become critical to seek the wisdom of ancient cultures, and all of Creation, to provide awareness and intent for a meaningful life.

In this five-day class we begin a quest for personal introspection and insight, designed to enhance our inner vision, and reveal individual truths along the way. Throughout the week we will turn to the forces of the elements, and the energy of the Earth, in ceremony, meditation, prayer, and silence, to arrive at a place of balance.

With Nature as interpreter, and Creation as teacher, we can then find greater harmony between thought and action, and renewed power and passion on our path to introspection and awareness