Outdoor Survival Skills in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC
Introduction to Wilderness Skills: or, How to Leave the Car Behind
Group size: 4-8
This physically intensive two-day course will provide clients with the hard skills, decision-making strategies, and leadership techniques necessary to lead small, personal trips into unfamiliar terrain. While the course will be land-based, with an emphasis on backpacking, the skills learned are applicable to all sorts of wilderness pursuits, from multi-day canoe trips to long-distance bicycling.
“Hard skills” are those hands-on knowledge sets that are indispensable for having a comfortable and enjoyable time in the wilderness. Many of them relate to staying dry, keeping warm, and eating right! The course will cover most of the following topics:
- Planning ahead: the ﬁrst steps in putting together a trip
- Map and compass navigation
- Emergency ﬁrst-aid and rescue
- Selecting and purchasing commercially available gear–it’s easier than you think!
- Finding and building shelter
- Cooking and food storage in the backcountry
- Packing a backpack: what to bring, what to leave, how to make it really ﬁt right
- Preparing for the weather: layering and essential safety gear
- Hygiene in the woods
- Leave No Trace (LNT) camping and traveling techniques
“Soft skills” are often considered to be part of a more formal leadership training class, as they have to do with the essentials of group dynamics, risk assessment, and environmental awareness. This course will touch on aspects of the following:
- Environmental awareness: beyond LNT
- Leadership styles and techniques
- Safety, safety, safety: when to turn back
- Camping with kids
- Survival: it’s all about attitude (that’s why it’s in this section!)
Wilderness Skills Overnight: Getting Comfortable in the Woods
Group size: 3-6
If you’re ready to learn new skills, get dirty, and really increase your comfort level in and familiarity with the outdoors, consider our Primitive Skills Overnight. This course will cover less material than the Introduction course, but do so more intensively, and with a deliberate focus on using the resources and materials that are available to us in a particular place and season. This is a great course if you want to learn to slow down, be safe, appreciate nature, and connect to the landscapes and ecology of our region in a new way. You will also learn some new skills that will be useful in situations from survival to hunting and fishing to hiking with kids—but most importantly, you will gain confidence and comfort in the woods, which will make it easier for you to get out more!
This course will be playful, muddy, and active. It’s a great choice for groups of adults or for families with children or teens to spend time learning together. The mix of skills and topics we cover will be location-, weather-, and group-dependent. If you have a preference from the list below, be sure to discuss it with the instructor before your trip, especially if you are arranging a private outing.
Some of the skills and topics this course might cover include:
- Making a fire with only one match or even without a match…even in the rain!
- Knife and hatchet skills for tool carving, including spoons and other utensils, fishhooks and spears and other useful objects, bow drills for fire starting without a match, etc.
- Finding wild edibles—distinguishing what’s toxic, what’s edible, and what’s delicious!
- Building shelter from natural materials
- Natural rope and cordage techniques and knot tying
- Stalking, tracking, hiding, and camouflaging
- Cooking over an open fire
- Staying safe and comfortable no matter what the weather—rain, shine, sleet, snow…
- Purifying water
- Aidless navigation—using the landscape and natural features to “lostproof” yourself
- Stories of connection to nature and places
- Opening our senses of taste, smell, hearing, touch, and seeing to gain awareness of the environment around us
Who can benefit from our wilderness skills and other adventure instruction programs:
- School groups
- Not-for-profit groups
- Religious groups
- Corporate teams
- Small businesses
- Government agencies
- Sports teams
- Fraternities and sororities
- Birthday parties
- And more