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Where to begin with wilderness skills classes

Earth Connection offers a wide variety of One Day - Two Day - Three Day and Five Day courses throughout the year in Virginia.
 
Whether you have been camping your whole life, or you're just getting started in the outdoors, we've got the classes you need to stay safe in the great outdoors.  We've also got the classes to take your enjoyment of nature to a much deeper level.  Our one day classes are subject specific, and delve deep into the skills common to our forebears like wild foods, making fire, navigation, tracking and primitive cooking.  Consider our full two day Wilderness Survival class to give you the best modern skills to come back from the woods safely.  Immerse yourself in a three day or five day class and gain the knowledge to feel like you are at home in the wild.  Our class descriptions are all detailed below.

One-Day Courses

 

Seasonal Wild Edible Plants - classes each season - Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall   

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

This is an entry level class for people who want to enter the delicious world of foraging their own wild food from the landscape, just like our ancestors.  We have been offering this class each season of the year since we began teaching in 1997.

Our Seasonal Wild Edible Plant courses focus on the different plants and plant uses of each season. These are one day classes. Each course is a guided walk through different habitats, identifying, collecting and frequent sampling wild plant foods, and pointing out harmful plants to avoid. Each course will cover approximately 40 plants, shrubs and trees, depending on the season. We will cover proper identification and use of these plants, whether plants are native or introduced, when and where to safely collect plants and conservation techniques.  Each student gets a copy of our Earth Connection plant book with full color photos and written plant information, created specifically for this class.  Wild edible snacks are a part of each course.

Advanced Wild Edible Plants - classes each season - Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

Bring the wild to your plate!

This NEW intermediate level class builds upon our 17 consecutive years of experience teaching wild edible plants to the public, and bringing delicious wild foods home for so many people.  This class is designed for students who are well past "beginners", and already have solid plant identification skills with wild edible plants.

The Advanced Wild Edible Plant classes of each season will show you how to use and enjoy the wild foods of that season.  The class will focus on collecting, storing and using common and tasty wild plant foods, while avoiding look-a-likes and avoiding mistakes.  This hands-on learning experience will show you the best ways to dry and store tea plants; how to make dried wild fruits and veggies; quick pickling techniques and the best plants to pickle; the best and worst wild plants to freeze; how to make jams and jellies; how to cook with wild plant foods; Tim's favorite wild recipes; and wild plant conservation techniques.  Each student gets a copy of our Earth Connection Advanced Wild Edible Plant book for that season with full color photos and written plant information, created specifically for this class.  Wild edible snacks and plant cooking are also part of each of these courses throughout the year.

Wild Medicine    New Course!

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

In development for several years, our new Wild Medicine class will take you through the complex and fascinating world of wild plants and the herbal medicines they provide. In our unique, hands-on approach, we will travel the landscape identifying medicinal plants, harvesting plant materials and creating medicines the very same day. Join us as we make poultices, salves, tinctures and oils that have been employed for healing since ancient times. You'll go home with a newfound appreciation for plants that you have all around you, a very detailed wild plant medicine book that is only available through this class, and a wild medicine "first aid kit".

Wild Brew 101   

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

Since ancient times, our ancestors have combined delicious natural ingredients collected from the wild to create unique and lively alcoholic beverages. There’s no better way to learn these skills for yourself, than to join foraging, home brew and heritage skills instructor, Tim MacWelch.

In this one day brewing class, you’ll spend the day outdoors, collecting wild brewing ingredients; learning the basics of fermentation and home brewing; and crafting wild wine, honey mead, ale and soda pop by brewing over an open fire. Materials will be provided by your instructor, and supplemented by wild ingredients that we will gather during the course. You’ll even get a detailed “wild brewing” manual to take home with you.

If you love adult beverages and want to learn to make the most unique brews on the planet, then let us teach you how to brew - and use wild ingredients for flavor. Students  21 and older, please.
 

Friction Fire Making   

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

This is an energetic entry level class for people who have always wanted to make fire by rubbing two sticks together.  We have been offering this class since we began teaching in 1997.

This course will focus on the Bow Drill and Hand Drill methods of friction fire making and how to easily start a fire. Fire safety, tinder, fire wood selection, and setting up a primitive fireplace will be covered in addition to some of the history and physics of friction fire making. Proper construction and use of the fire making equipment will be emphasized during the course. Students will construct fire making sets which will be theirs to keep from a variety of materials provided by us. Our one day Friction Fire Making course teaches the Hand Drill friction fire making method because it is the easiest fire kit to make, and this method had the widest use through prehistory and world cultures. The Bow Drill is also taught in this course because it is the easiest method for beginners to make friction fire.

Friction Fire Materials Identification 

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

This is a class for people who already have some friction fire experience and want to learn the art of harvesting their own friction fire materials.  We have been offering Friction Fire Materials ID since 2003.

This course will focus on the skills that we consider the most important in the art of friction fire. These skills are plant and tree identification and proper material selection. We will study plant and tree families to learn general characteristics and then focus on the unique attributes of individual species. For example... did you ever try to use Hemlock pine for drills and fire boards? Did you use the trunk wood from a tree, or the branch wood? There is a surprising difference between the different parts of the same tree. That's the kind of advice we will be packing into this one day long class. Students will go through field and forest, identifying, harvesting and then using suitable woods and plant materials to construct fire making sets during the class. Beginning Fire Makers are welcome too. We will be demonstrating the assembly and proper use of fire kit materials and then using the kits during the course.

Primitive Survival Crash Course

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

So you want to learn how to survive in the woods, with only the clothes on your back and a knife? Then jump into our Primitive Survival Crash Course and gain the foundational skills to ensure your survival, using only the materials that the wilderness provides.

Spend a day of hands-on learning with professional survival instructor, Tim MacWelch, in this fast-paced class which covers crucial skills to ensure your safety and well-being in virtually any survival situation. The skills and subjects of this class include: Assessing the Priorities and Mentality of Survival; How to build a Leaf Hut Shelter with your bare hands, no tools or ropes required; creating Friction Fire by literally “rubbing two sticks” with the Bow and Drill method; How to get safe drinking water with low tech methods; an introduction to Primitive Tool and Rope making; and how to Signal for help. 

This is the core curriculum of the first day of our very popular 3-day Primitive Skills class, and it is now available by itself as the Primitive Survival Crash Course.

As a bonus for taking this course, you’ll receive a copy of our information packed primitive survival manual to take home with you. Gain the skills to live off the land, and provide yourself with the ultimate back-up plan for survival. And now for the best parts – this class is beginner friendly, and you can learn all these skills in just one day.
 

Modern Survival Crash Course

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

Modern survival skills are much easier and faster than low tech survival, especially when you have the right gear. But what are the right life-saving modern tools and equipment to carry? And how do they work?

Join our Modern Survival Crash Course , and professional survival instructor Tim MacWelch will show you what to take into the woods and how to use that gear to your best advantage. This action packed course will coach you through the best modern wilderness skills and practices for any type of survival situation.  Topics of instruction will include: The Priorities of survival; What to put in a survival kit; Fire making strategies with numerous devices, including spark rods, magnesium, optics, electricity and more; Modern water purification techniques and supplies; Easy ways to signal for help; and how to build shelters from tarps, ropes and other modern materials.

Take this course and you’ll also get a copy of our survival manual to take home for further study. No experience is necessary to join our crash course. With this carefully built curriculum, you can build your foundation for survival in just one day. You can become a survivor.

This is the core curriculum of the first day of our very popular 2-day Wilderness Survival class, and it is now available by itself as the Modern Survival Crash Course.

And like its sister course, the Primitive Survival Crash Course, you can build your foundation for survival in just one day.

Tracks and Sign

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

This is a fun entry level to intermediate class for those who want to see the signs of the animal world as if you were a native, not just a passing tourist.  Hue developed this class specifically for our use, and we have been offering this class since 2004.

Our Tracks and Sign class is the special project of instructor "Hue" Hueston. Learn the beginning "steps" for the ancient art tracking. Clear foot print identification; animal scat and sign identification; and animal behavior will be taught just for starters. This is a great class for anyone interested in seeing the great outdoors through the eyes of a tracker.

Primitive Trapping

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

This is a very serious class for one sole purpose, bringing home animal food.  We have been offering this class since 2004.

Earth Connection's Primitive Trapping class will teach you how to put your hard earned tracking skills to task by constructing simple traps to secure wild animals for food. Trapping is probably the most efficient way to gather food in a survival situation as they conserve your energy and hunt for you while you rest or work on other survival tasks. Students will learn the basic principles behind traps and how to construct them focusing on the more familiar (and using less cordage) deadfalls and snares including the figure-four, Paiute deadfall, wire snare, and their variations. In addition, more complicated trapping methods using kinetic engines (and much more cordage) will be demonstrated including many variations of the toggle stick and spring pole traps. We will cover sign tracking as it applies to trap location, baiting and trap camouflage. We will also look into simple fish traps to add more variety to your primitive diet.

This class harms NO animals and all local trapping laws are adhered to.

Just Added To The Class Curriculum- This class now includes hands-on instruction in the skinning and butchering of small game (typically squirrel).

Basketry   

9 am to 4 pm   Course tuition $97

This is an entry level class for those who want to learn the beautiful and useful art of basketry.  We have offered this class since 1999.

Our Basketry course covers several styles of traditional basketry from around the world. The course includes information on basket material selection, harvesting techniques and seasons, how to make wicker basketry from vines, how to make coil basketry from grasses and twigs, and how to make bark baskets from sheets of bark. Materials will be provided by us, and supplemented by materials that we show how to gather from the rich natural surroundings right here on our property.  Each student will go home with different styles of natural baskets that they have made.

Primitive Cooking   

9 am to 6 pm   Course tuition $97

This class in truly a feast in the making.  Regardless of the years of camping you have done, or if you are just getting started, this class will give you the skills to be a stone age chef!  We have proudly offered this class since 1998.

Join us for our very ab-original cooking class; often imitated, but never duplicated! Our Primitive Cooking course will teach the food preparation skills of our ancestors as we use traditional cooking skills to create a feast for the mind and belly. Cooking techniques will be taught and during the course students will construct and use a stone fireplace with reflector, a stone oven and a steam pit. Other cooking methods to be covered are rock frying, coal baking, rock boiling in wooden bowls and a deer hide, clay baking and an Algonquin style green wood grill "Barbecue". Eating utensils, cooking containers and other subjects will be covered. A lunch, snacks and a dinner will also be part of this course. The menu for this course uses some modern ingredients and some traditional ones; and will include many kinds of meat prepared in different ways.

Two Day and Three Day Courses

Wilderness Survival    

9 am on the first day until 4 pm on the second day   Course tuition $247

This is a fun entry level to intermediate class for those who want to learn the wilderness skills to stay safe in the wild, and don't mind using the modern technology to do it.  We have been offering this class since we began teaching in 1997.

Our Wilderness Survival course is a 2 day course designed to instruct students in a wide variety of year-round life saving wilderness survival skills using the latest modern gear and the best historic outdoor skills. Students of this course will learn the priorities of survival, how not to get lost in the first place, how to signal for rescue, and what to put in survival kits. Skills will include building and camping out in one of the many tarp shelters to be covered; collecting and purifying water with several modern methods; and the basics of making and utilizing fire including flint & steel, batteries, magnifying lens, waterproofing matches and tinder. Food gathering instruction will include collecting and preparing nutritious edible plants, four different traps unique to this course and survival fishing. How to sharpen a knife with a stone, knots and string making will also be covered. We recommend this course for all outdoor persons.

Advanced Friction Fire  

9 am on the first day until 4 pm on the second day   Course tuition $247

Become a friction fire pro with the skills gained in our Advanced Friction Fire class.  We have been offering this class since 1999.

The two day long Advanced Friction Fire course has been designed to further enhance a student's friction fire making techniques and understanding of advanced variations of construction and technique. Fire making methods include the Bow Drill, the Hand Drill, and other friction fire making methods such as the Pump Drill, the Fire Saw, the Fire Plow, and the Arctic Mouth Drill. Advanced subjects will include plant and tree identification and use; the use of wet and difficult materials; Bow Drill cordage construction; the use of stone age tools more. Students will also have the opportunity to make and use a Pump Drill, Fire Saw, Fire Plow and an Arctic Mouth Drill. This course is also designed to show many of the primitive uses of fire and explain the importance of fire in many different cultures and time periods. Fire lore, legends and stories from all over the world will also be an important part of this course. We recommend that students have completed our one day Fire Making course and be proficient in the skills presented there, or have comparable skills, to be eligible for this advanced class.

Primitive Skills   

9 am on the first day until 4 pm on the third day   Course tuition $379

The first class we ever ran in 1997 was a 3 day Primitive Skills class.  It is nearest and dearest to our hearts and the class is a perfect fit for anyone who wants to have the skills to dwell in the wild as a native, whether by accident or by choice.

The Primitive Skills course teaches valuable wilderness survival skills using the stone age technologies that were common to of all of our ancestors. Students will learn how to build a leaf hut shelter, without tools or cord; how to collect and prepare tinder and kindling; how to do friction fire making with the bow drill; primitive tool making; primitive water gathering and purification; four primitive traps unique to this course; how to make a rabbit hunting stick; and the skinning, cleaning and cooking small game (typically squirrel). Primitive fishing, Edible plants, primitive cooking, food preservation and storage, wicker basketry from vines, plant and tree bark string, and burning out wooden bowls and spoons will also be covered. This course is designed to provide skills for living primitively in the wilderness; and this course is a student and staff favorite.

Five Day Courses

Ultimate Survival Week   

9 am on Monday until 4 pm Friday   Course tuition $629

This very popular class is a combination of our 3 day Primitive Skills course and our Wilderness Survival 2 day course.  For those who cannot make it to the whole week, there is the option to take just the Primitive Skills portion or Wilderness Survival portion of the week.  But we highly recommend that you take the whole week to get the full spectrum of modern and primitive survival skills.  In the Primitive Skills portion, Students will learn how to build a leaf hut shelter, without tools or cord; how to collect and prepare tinder and kindling; how to do friction fire making with the bow drill; primitive tool making; primitive water gathering and purification; four primitive traps unique to this course; how to make a rabbit hunting stick; and the skinning, cleaning and cooking small game (typically squirrel). Primitive fishing, Edible plants, primitive cooking, food preservation and storage, wicker basketry from vines, plant and tree bark string, and burning out wooden bowls and spoons will also be covered. This course is designed to provide skills for living primitively in the wilderness; and this course is a student and staff favorite.  The Wilderness Survival section is designed to instruct students in a wide variety of year-round life saving wilderness survival skills using the latest modern gear and the best historic outdoor skills. Students of this course will learn the priorities of survival, how not to get lost in the first place, how to signal for rescue, and what to put in survival kits. Skills will include building and camping out in one of the many tarp shelters to be covered; collecting and purifying water with several modern methods; and the basics of making and utilizing fire including flint & steel, batteries, magnifying lens, waterproofing matches and tinder. Food gathering instruction will include collecting and preparing nutritious edible plants, four different traps unique to this course and survival fishing. How to sharpen a knife with a stone, knots and string making will also be covered.

Primitive Skills Week   

9 am on Monday until 4 pm Friday   Course tuition $629

The Primitive Skills Week is a combination of our 3 day Primitive Skills course, our one day Friction Fire Making course and one day of Wild Edible Plants specific to that season.  For those who cannot make it to the whole week, there is the option to take just the Primitive Skills portion or the Fire Making portion, or the Wild Edible Plants portion of the week.  The Primitive Skills section teaches valuable wilderness survival skills using the stone age technologies that were common to of all of our ancestors. Students will learn how to build a leaf hut shelter, without tools or cord; how to collect and prepare tinder and kindling; how to do friction fire making with the bow drill; primitive tool making; primitive water gathering and purification; four primitive traps unique to this course; how to make a rabbit hunting stick; and the skinning, cleaning and cooking small game (typically squirrel). Primitive fishing, Edible plants, primitive cooking, food preservation and storage, wicker basketry from vines, plant and tree bark string, and burning out wooden bowls and spoons will also be covered. This course is designed to provide skills for living primitively in the wilderness; and this course is a student and staff favorite.  The one day Friction Fire section will focus on the Bow Drill and Hand Drill methods of friction fire making and how to easily start a fire. Fire safety, tinder, fire wood selection, and setting up a primitive fireplace will be covered in addition to some of the history and physics of friction fire making. Proper construction and use of the fire making equipment will be emphasized during the course. Students will construct fire making sets which will be theirs to keep from a variety of materials provided by us. Our one day Friction Fire Making course teaches the Hand Drill friction fire making method because it is the easiest fire kit to make, and this method had the widest use through prehistory and world cultures. The Bow Drill is also taught in this course because it is the easiest method for beginners to make friction fire.  The Seasonal Edible Plant section will focus on the different plants and plant uses of each season. These are one day classes. Each course is a guided walk through different habitats, identifying, collecting and frequent sampling wild plant foods, and pointing out harmful plants to avoid. Each course will cover approximately 40 plants, shrubs and trees, depending on the season. We will cover proper identification and use of these plants, whether plants are native or introduced, when and where to safely collect plants and conservation techniques. Each student gets an Earth Connection plant handout with full color photos and written plant information.

Earth Connection's GUARDIAN PROGRAM

Starting January 1, 2011 - Earth Connection is pleased to announce a discount program for those who have put their lives on the line guarding their fellow Americans.  The GUARDIAN PROGRAM is a tuition discount available to US Military active duty and veterans - Current or retired Fire Fighters - Current or retired Rescue Squad - Current or retired Law Enforcement.  A discount of 15% will be available to all who qualify as a token of our thanks for their service and sacrifices. 

We are also offering a free, one day class to anyone who has been disabled in the line of duty.  To take advantage of this program, simply fill out an online registration form for the class or classes of your choice and make a note on the form that you are requesting the Guardian Program.  Then mail in your class tuition in the form of a personal check or money order so that we receive it at least 7 days before the first day of class.  We do not currently have a discount button on our Paypal payment page, so please just use old fashioned checks and please bear with us.  Please mail your tuition and a paper copy of your registration form to the appropriate VA address.

Please check our Registration page, as a few restrictions apply.

Thank you for your service to us all!

Gift Certificates For Earth Connection's Classes

If you are looking for the perfect Holiday gift, birthday present or activity for a special occasion - Earth Connection offers Gift Certificates for our regularly scheduled classes.  Check out all the details on our Registration Page.