Can You Survive the Wild?

Reader Contribution by Staff

In the August/September News from Mother, we explained our approach to the ideas and projects we feature in Mother Earth News. We refer to it as ‘Here-and-Now, Later-and-Wow.’ The idea is that, while we strive to bring you practical advice that you can use every day in your quest to live wisely, we also like to present you with ideas for really big endeavors that may not be possible in the short-term, but are fun to dream about.

At the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair last June in Custer, Wis., Mother Earth News shared a kwanza hut with an interesting group called the Teaching Drum Outdoor School. They were promoting a program of theirs that definitely falls into the ‘Later and Wow’ category. The students and guides refer to it as the ‘Year Long,’ and as the name implies, it actually involves spending an entire year in a camp on an 80-acre preserve in northern Wisconsin, between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The preserve borders the Headwaters Wilderness Area, an 18,188-acre forest without roads.

That’s right. All four seasons, braving temperatures that can dip as low as 30 degrees below zero in the dead of winter. It’s a complete immersion study, therefore a full 12 months are required to truly learn the ins and outs of living in the wild. You will learn to forage for lodge materials; build and repair wigwams and other shelters; carve bowls and utensils; weave baskets, tan buckskins and make your own clothing; hunt and forage for wild food; gather your own water; and cook and heat with open fire (made by friction). You’ll also learn what to use for soap and first aid. All from materials that occur naturally in the wild.

It’s not free — plan on spending $6,480, and no refunds are granted if you change your mind and drop out. But what price can you attach to that kind of knowledge? No prior experience is required. The guides simply ask that you come ready and willing to lose your dependence on the commercial society we’re so accustomed to. According to Teaching Drum, ‘You’ll be walking silently and seeing more than you ever knew existed.’