Most people probably think they couldn’t survive if they were stranded in the forest without even their smart phone. But, lately, more and more amateur survivalists are getting in touch with their primitive sides by heading into the wilderness to master native skills. Perhaps inspired by Cults’ single “Go Outside,"
the rush outdoors includes everything from bow hunting to mushroom foraging. In this case, no designer tents
Primitive Skills Classes:
Having already dabbled in urban foraging
, city dwellers are continuing to escape the confines of their packed and stacked abodes to learn the skills that country folk
have mastered for centuries. Attendees of Trackers’ Nine-Month Wilderness Survival and Primitive Skills
spend their weekends immersed in hide tanning, basket weaving, and flint knapping. Meanwhile, at The Midwest Native Skills Institute
, young people learn the “primitive approach” to obtaining the basics of survival: water, food, fire and shelter. Far from subsisting on nuts and berries, attendees are typically fed with gusto, particularly after completing the unit on Ojibwa bird traps
. And, in the South, North Carolina’s Earth School
is staffed with survivalists who teach stone tools, fiber technology and animal tracking. Venison, anyone?
Hippies used to send their children to Montessori schools, but with a move toward free-range
parenting, some especially bohemian types are letting their kids run wild—literally. The Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs
offers the Forest Kindergarten
program where, aside from performing eurythmy
, children spend up to three hours of the day outside, “regardless of the weather.” More than 300 acres of state parkland known as the Hemlock Trail Area
serves as the classroom. Naturally, Portland
’s forest kindergarten version is called Mother Earth School,
where children “learn to gather wood for fire, compost, make herbal teas and medicines, and build shelters in the forest.” After mastering that curriculum, first grade should be a cakewalk for these kids.
The Wild Within:
The Travel Channel's newest woodsman heartthrob is former Outside
writer Steven Rinella, who takes viewers on global survival adventures in his series The Wild Within
. His goal for the show is to persuade viewers that discovering their inner hunter-gatherer “will make [their] lives more vibrant and alive.
" On the show, Rinella dispatches and skins a buffalo. That’s good for him, because he eats only meat that he has personally killed, emphasizing that hunted game is both organic and free-range.
Fishing and hunting aren’t Rinella’s only natural pursuits, though, as he often relates his own family adventures, as evidenced in this romantic account of meeting his wife
that he wrote for Glamour