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  • What should my child bring to class?
    Please have your child bring a water bottle and a snack or lunch, depending on the timing of the class. Please dress your child appropriately for the weather with layers and rain gear if necessary. Please have them wear clothes that can get dirty or wet. For colder weather programs it might be a good idea to have clean and dry changes of clothing on hand.
  • What is the COVID protocol?
    All of our programs are outside all the time so mask wearing is on an individual preference basis. In general, instructors are currently not masking up. This could change if the COVID situation worsens. If instructors or participants do test positive for COVID, please do not come to class until the suggested quarantine time is over.
  • Does the class happen rain or shine?
    Yes! We won’t cancel class unless there is a high wind thunderstorm with dangerous conditions or snow or ice storm where it is dangerous to travel to class. In the case of these extreme weather conditions we will do our best to reschedule. In the event of no possible rescheduling we will refund the payment for the canceled class, unless parents opt to cancel last minute and we have already traveled to the location.
  • What is a parent organizer?
    A parent organizer sets up classes for a group of participants and is the point of contact for the group. The parent organizer acts as a liaison between the instructor and the participants’ families. Depending on the instructor there can be a discount for the parent organizer.
  • What is your instructor to participant ratio?
    We like to have a one to 5 ratio for the younger groups. For more mature groups that ratio can shift to not more than one to eight.
  • Can parents stay for the class?
    It depends on the instructor but in general we like to have parents stay and sometimes even participate. If the class is not specifically a family program we won’t have designated activities for parents.
  • My child has allergies. Will the necessary precautions be taken?
    Yes. Please be sure to list all allergies on the allergy question in the registration forms, including if your child carries an epi-pen. Our instructors have current wilderness first responder or wilderness first aid certification, but we need to know about allergies in advance. If we are cooking over the fire, for example, we will prepare separate ingredients to accommodate allergies, to the best of our abilities. Our instructors are not authorized to administer medications or epi-pens. Your child must be able to administer their own epi-pen with our support.
  • Are there discounts?
    We offer a 5% discount for multiple registrations. Please don’t hesitate to ask about further discounts. Although we are a small organization and this is how we make our livelihood, we don’t want to turn people away because of financial constraints so we are happy to offer discounts as needed.
  • Could I see your waiver form?
    PARTICIPANT AGREEMENT, RELEASE AND ASSUMPTION OF RISK In consideration of the services of Earth Living Skills ℅ Milky Way Media, Inc., their agents, owners, officers, volunteers, participants, employees, and all other persons or entities acting in any capacity on their behalf (hereinafter collectively referred to as " MWM "), I hereby agree to release, indemnify, and discharge MWM, on behalf of myself, my spouse, my children, my parents, my heirs, assigns, personal representative and estate as follows: 1. I acknowledge that my or my child’s participation in hiking, camping and backpacking activities entails known and unanticipated risks that could result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis, death, or damage to myself or my child, to property, or to third parties. I understand that such risks simply cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of the activity. The risks include, among other things: slip and falls; accidents involving the hazards of walking on uneven terrain, weather conditions; head injuries can occur; slipping and falling; falling objects; exhaustion; exposure to temperature and weather extremes which could cause hypothermia, hyperthermia (heat related illnesses), heat exhaustion, sunburn, dehydration; water hazards and accidental drowning; exposure to potentially dangerous wild animals, insect bites, and hazardous plant life; pinches, scrapes, twists and jolts, scratches, bruises, blisters, burns, sprains, lacerations, fractures, concussions, or even more severe life threatening hazards; the negligence of other visitors, participants, or other persons who may be present; equipment failure; and improper lifting or carrying; the use and carrying of firearms; accidents or illness can occur in remote places without medical facilities and emergency treatment or other services rendered; consumption of food or drink; my own physical condition, and the physical exertion associated with this activity. Furthermore, MWM employees have difficult jobs to perform. They seek safety, but they are not infallible. They might be unaware of a participant's fitness or abilities. They might misjudge the weather or other environmental conditions. They may give incomplete warnings or instructions, and the equipment being used might malfunction. 2. I expressly agree and promise to accept and assume all of the risks existing in this activity. My participation in this activity is purely voluntary, and I elect to participate in spite of the risks. 3. I hereby voluntarily release, forever discharge, and agree to indemnify and hold harmless MWM from any and all claims, demands, or causes of action, which are in any way connected with my participation in this activity or my use of MWM 's equipment or facilities, including any such claims which allege negligent acts or omissions of MWM. 4. Should MWM or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, I agree to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. 5. I certify that I have adequate insurance to cover any injury or damage I may cause or suffer while participating, or else I agree to bear the costs of such injury or damage myself. I further certify that I am willing to assume the risk of any medical or physical condition I may have. 6. In the event that I file a lawsuit against MWM, I agree to do so solely in the state of New York, and I further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict of law rules of that state. I agree that if any portion of this agreement is found to be void or unenforceable, the remaining document shall remain in full force and effect. Parent/Guardian Name_________________________________ Cell Phone_________________ Parent/Guardian Name_________________________________ Cell Phone_________________ Other Emergency Contact_________________________ Relationship____________________ Cell Phone_________________________________ Work Phone_________________________ Health Insurance Provider_____________________________ Policy Number_______________ *Please list any medical, emotional or psychological information we need to be aware of including allergies and whether child’s Epi-pen will be present. ______________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ PROPERTY LOSS: I understand MWM is not responsible for a participant’s personal property that is lost, damaged or stolen during the course of a MWM program. INSURANCE: I understand that it is my responsibility to provide for my own, and any other members of my family if applicable, accident and health coverage while participating in MWM programs. MWM does not provide any accident and health insurance for its participants. MEDICAL RELEASE: I authorize MWM, as my agent, to give consent to surgical or medical treatment by a licensed physician or hospital when the physician deems such treatment necessary and I cannot be contacted within a reasonable time or I am not otherwise able to give such consent. I authorize MWM to give first aid, CPR or other treatment by a qualified staff member. PHOTOGRAPHS: I authorize MWM to have and use photographs or video of my child/ren or myself as may be needed for its records or public relations projects. Yes ____ No _____ By signing this document, I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my or my child’s participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against MWM on the basis of any claim from which I have released them herein. I have had sufficient opportunity to read this entire document. I have read and understood it, and I agree to be bound by its terms. Print Name ________________________________ Phone Number__________________ Address _______________________________________ City ________________________ State ______________________ Zip __________________ Email _________________ Signature of Participant _________________________________________ Date_________ PARENT’S OR GUARDIAN'S ADDITIONAL INDEMNIFICATION (Must be completed for participants under the age of 18) In consideration of _________________________________(print minor's name) ("Minor") being permitted by MWM to participate in its activities and to use its equipment and facilities, I further agree to indemnify and hold harmless MWM from any and all claims which are brought by, or on behalf of Minor, and which are in any way connected with such use or participation by Minor. Parent or Guardian: _____________________ Print Name: _____________ Date: ___________
    WOVEN GRASS MATS A grass mat is a wonderful addition to any outdoor sleeping arrangement. Not only does it increase the level of comfort in your camp, it also helps you stay warm and dry in your shelter. By bunching and weaving together grasses or long leaves, you can make a comfortable and durable mattress or seat. Participants will learn how to identify and harvest material as well as how to make it into a functional survival tool. Each person takes home what they make. LONG TERM SHELTER When you need to build a shelter for multiple people or for a long stay, you need more than your standard debris shelter. In this class we will cover techniques and shelter styles that were used to build the long term shelters of our ancestors. We will be building a model or full size group shelter in the optimal location of any landscape and discuss methods of heating the structure, keeping it bug and pest free, water proofed, and much more. SHELTER BUILDING Shelter is your top priority in a survival situation, and one of the most empowering skills to possess. In this program we'll cover the basics of shelter, ranging from the clothes on your back to the hands-on experience of building a primitive shelter. The debris hut, if built correctly, will keep you warm and dry even on the coldest nights, and cool and protected on the hottest days. Together we'll build a one-person debris hut without any man-made materials. After we are done enjoying it, we'll return the materials back to the Earth, and leave our work area better than we found it.
    FINDING WATER SOURCES Water is a top priority when out in nature, and luckily, here in the Northeast, it’s pretty much all around us. In this program, we will learn how to read the indicators on the landscape in order to find good sources of water any time of year. Depending on the season and weather, there are a number of plants & trees that provide pure, fresh drinking water. We will also explore using some modern implements in order to gather water in abundance. WATER FILTRATION & PURIFICATION Generally speaking, you should assume that all water you find in nature is contaminated and unsafe to drink (unless you find the source of a spring on a mountaintop). Proper filtration AND purification are necessary to assure your short-term and long-term safety. In this class, we will go through the steps of making a simple water filter from materials you can find in nature, followed by a rock-boil technique to guarantee your water is potable and safe.
  • FIRE
    ADVANCED FIRE MAKING - MAKE YOUR OWN BOW-DRILL KIT The bow drill is one of the most reliable ways to create fire by friction. In this program, participants who have worked with the bow drill fire making method in the past, will now be making their own personal bow drill kits, from start to finish. We will be going into detailed description of each individual part, which materials to work with/avoid, as well as perfecting the technical aspects of the bow drill technique. Includes the use of knives/tools; all materials will be included, and the kits will be yours to take home and continue working with. FLEX BOW A flex bow is made to self-adjust to different sized Bow Drill Fire spindles. If you have already carved yourself a fire kit, this is a beautiful way to personalize it. We will be using the same techniques used to build archery bows to make a custom sized hardwood bow that will last for years. HAND DRILL FRICTION FIRE Hand Drill was the first method of friction fire. It is preferred because it is a simple set up, a spindle and a fireboard, and can be an effective method to create fire from the landscape. An ember is made by rubbing the spindle in between your hands so that it creates friction with the fireboard. In this class you will learn how to identify the plants that are ideal for Hand Drill as well as the method of use. Each participant will leave with their own kit. BOW DRILL FIRE KITS Learn one of the most fundamental survival skills: Friction fire! There are over 30 different methods of friction fire that have been developed over thousands of years by every group of people around the globe. We will be learning the bow drill friction fire method, one of the most consistent forms of fire making in any wilderness setting. We will learn the full process, from choosing and splitting your wood to carving the kit to the proper form to start the fire. Not only is making friction fire a good skill to know, but can also be supremely empowering. PRIMITIVE LIGHTING Learn to use your fire making skills and explore what’s possible with lamps, candles, and torches. All of these tools are major game changers for being in the woods at night. Prior to the invention of lamps and candles, our ancestors were either spending tons of time collecting unimaginable amounts of firewood, or sitting in complete darkness until the sun rose - both of which are not fun. Using simple principles of fuels, wicks, and containers, the possibilities are endless for working by firelight, or even transporting fire to a new location. FERROCERIUM ROD & CHARCLOTH Commonly referred to as ‘flint and steel’ this modern-day fire making technique is extremely reliable, easy to learn, and fun to practice! We will also be making charcloth - which is your number one tinder material when working with ferro rods.
    PRIMITIVE COOKING One of the most gratifying primitive skills is the art of cooking over an open fire. We will cook ourselves a feast using cooking techniques that have been developed by indigenous cultures all around the world. Cooking via rock grills and boils, pit steaming, clay baking, or just right on the coals unlocks a very specific flavor in the food. Part of this class may include wild harvesting part of our meal. ACORN PROCESSING Acorns are a critically important food and nutrition source for just about every animal on the landscape. However, unlike the animals, we need to process them properly in order to make them edible, and actually quite tasty. In this program, we will go through the steps of proper acorn identification, specimen collection and processing, leeching, and cooking with it. At the end of the day, you’ll have a bag of mostly-processed acorns that are only a day or two away from turning into delicious flour. JERKY & PEMMICAN Learning these simple techniques of preserving meat is an invaluable skill. Jerky and pemmican allow you to store your meat indefinitely, and also grants the luxury of traveling with meat on hand. Will we talk about both primitive and modern ways to preserve your meat. FERMENTATION Wild fermentation is the art of creating a living culture that can both preserve and introduce healthy bacteria that can boost your body’s immune system. In this class, we will explore the basics of fermentation through the creation of products like sauerkraut, kim chi, pickles, wild-crafted sodas, wine, and vinegars. Take home a batch of your own handcrafted food or drink that can be used to start other cultures. CLAY OVEN Clay ovens are amazing and you can use them just like your oven at home. Although it is initially a large investment of time and energy, in the long run it pays off. These primitive ovens can last for years, and the only supplies needed are clay, sand, and straw. ANIMAL PROCESSING A single deer could provide you with shelter, water, fire, and food. By learning how to make use of every single part of the animal, we honor the life given by making sure nothing goes to waste. No animals will be killed during this class. SALVES AND TINCTURES Salves and tinctures are two popular ways to extract the healing properties from herbs and turn them into medicine for everyday use. Salves are made by infusing herbs into oil or tallow, and then hardened with wax for stability, preservation, and use. Tinctures are made by extracting the medicinal compounds from a plant or mushroom in alcohol. You will be able to take home anything we make. PRIMIVITE TRAPS Traps are an energy multiplier. They offer you the opportunity to acquire protein, while you are working on other important tasks around camp. Although there are hundreds - if not thousands - of different types and variations of primitive traps, in this class we’ll focus on a few, simple basics. Once the fundamental aspects of trap making are understood, you can get as creative as your needs require. No animals will be trapped/harmed in this class. PRIMITIVE FISHING TECHNIQUES Most bodies of water have at least a few species of fish in them. Lucky for us, they can be easy to catch if you have a few simple, improvised tools. When building your primitive fishing kit, we will cover making line from plant fibers, hooks from bones and wood, and simple spears. No animals will be trapped/harmed in this class. Elderberry Syrup Elderberry Syrup is the best herbal method of staving off the colds and the Flu. Not only is it deliciously tart and fruity, but it also inhibits the virus from bonding to the host cells. We will be learning to identify Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra), found here in the Northeast as well as the proper preparation and use of your finished product. Participants will take home some of what we make during the class. Fire Cider Fire Cider is a folk remedy that has been long used as a daily tonic for boosting the immune system, treating sore throats, stimulation digestion and more. Made from an assortment of medicinal plants, herbs and roots infused into apple cider vinegar, Fire Cider is an easy to make and powerful daily drink that is guaranteed to boost your health. Also an amazing addition to salad dressings, marinades, etc.
    TRACKING Tracking is the art of telling the story of the landscape. By learning how to read animal tracks and signs, you will be able to tell what animals live in the area, their patterns and behaviors, and how they interact with their environment and each other. By asking “what happened here?”, everything becomes a track. Participants will spend the class learning the basic tracking language and techniques to tell the stories of our outdoor classroom. MOVEMENT AND AWARENESS Join us as we learn how to move silently through the forest, while at the same time, deepening our connection and awareness to the natural world! When we move through a town or city, we move at a certain pace, we pay attention to certain things, and we dress to match our environment. However, when we move in the forest, we need to make some serious adjustments - especially if we want to observe or study wildlife. By learning how to move silently through the landscape, you will feel more at home and relaxed anytime you venture outdoors. This class will also focus on slowing down our body and mind, and opening up our other senses to connect with things that are usually overlooked. CAMOUFLAGE Learning how camouflage into a landscape, whether urban or natural, is as close as you can get to becoming invisible. Learn how to use your surroundings to mimic the shapes, colors, textures and patterns of the area you want to disappear into. Camouflage is an essential skill for anyone who wants to connect deeper with nature, observe the landscape without disturbing it, learn how to hunt or just scare a friend or sibling. Our ancestors were masters of camouflage as their lives depended on it. We’ll learn the basic techniques of camouflage, what resources to use, best areas to camo into as well as games to test your skills. THE ART OF THE WANDER Though it can seem simple, the Wander is one of the best ways to connect yourself to the landscape. The wander can include tracking, understanding bird language, animal dens, edible plants and mushrooms, bones and antlers, usable material like clay, stone, or bow woods. It can be an hour or a week of tuning into your instincts and following your natural, curious self. A good wander can brighten your spirit through adventure and discovery.
    BACKCOUNTRY NAVIGATION The worst thing to lose on a backcountry trip is your way. Being lost in the woods can be a terrifying experience at any time of year and it happens every day all over the world. Through games and exercises, you will learn the basics of map reading and using a compass as well as how to read a landscape and find North if you don’t have them. Spend your day in the woods becoming lost-proof! BASIC AND ADVANCED BACKPACKING Whether you are going on a day hike, overnight trip, or week-long backcountry adventure, there are some key skills, gear, tips and tricks that everyone should know. In this class, we will cover the basics of packing, camp set up, cooking, planning routes, reading maps, planning meals, water filtration, Leave No Trace protocol, group management, pooping in the woods and much more. Taught by a New York State licenced guide with 10 years experience. Make your next trip efficient and magnificent. BUILDING A EMERGENCY “BUG OUT BAG” A “Bug Out” or “Go” bag is a pre-made kit that you can grab and go in the case of a sudden power outage, major storm, forest fire or any other reason that you might have to get out of your area quickly. This kit can be a simple, light-weight backpack with some essentials or a kit that could help you last months in the woods. In this class we will talk about the selection and use of your gear, important considerations for a Bug Out situation, as well as discussions about what skills you can learn to replace items in the bag. Leave this class with a peace of mind that can only come from being well prepared for anything.
    STONE TOOLS Whether it be through percussion, pressure or grinding into shape, our ancestors were able to turn select stones into knives, arrowheads, axes, drills, chisels, bowls, lamps, pendants of all sizes and shapes, and more. Participants will get to use stones such as slate, soapstone, obsidian, and/or chert to make pendants, arrowheads, knives and more. All materials provided. MAKING CORDAGE & NATURAL FIBER PROCESSING Knowing how to make strong, durable rope was an essential skill for our ancestors. Take a moment and think about all the uses of ropes, strings, and threads in our modern, everyday use; your clothing, the dog's leash, shoelaces, and bags are only a few examples. When dealing with a primitive living situation, the list of practical uses for good cordage is virtually endless. In this program, we'll be working with a simple reverse-wrap cordage making method. Once everyone is up to speed with that, we will get some hands-on experience processing local plants into usable fibers. All materials included. SPLINTWORK BASKETRY Basketry is the art of working with flexible organic materials - bark, sapling, fibers, splints, etc. - and interweaving them into usable containers of various sizes. Baskets were an essential tool for our ancestors, and still are highly valued today. Whether you're looking to make a collection basket, a long-term pack basket, or a simple container for household goods, this technique is for you! In this program, we'll dive into one of the most basic styles of basic weaving: splintwork. We will spend our time weaving a small, model-sized basket to teach you the basic principles. After that, there is no limit to what is possible with this simple technique! BARK BASKETRY Pine, Birch, Maple, Cedar, Tulip Poplar and other trees in our area provide an excellent material for making durable, watertight containers. Traditionally used to make everything from canteens to arrow quivers to canoes and shelters, tree bark is fairly easy to harvest and work with to make a variety of shapes and sizes. Participants will learn how and when to harvest materials, how to remove the bark and how to make it into beautiful, very functional vessels. WILLOW/WICKER BASKETRY Willow is one of the best and most traditionally used materials for baskets. We are lucky enough that we live in an area with Willow, but also a wide variety of wicker basketry materials such as Grape Vines, Asiatic Bittersweet, Red Osier Dogwood and Virginia Creeper. In this class, we will learn the basics of material identification, harvesting, and preparation for use. We will also learn a variety of basket styles and weaving techniques that are used to make hand-held baskets, fish traps and large harvesting backpacks the same. PLANT DYEING Plants bloom in an array of beautiful colors and those colors can be extracted to dye plant and animal based fibers. We invite you to come and explore the basics of primitive plant dye techniques. During this workshop we will be discussing how plants have been used for thousands of years in all cultures as forms of pigment, paints, stains and dyes for the body and handmade goods. We will explore colors from our own backyards, while also going over mordant (fixative) options and dying techniques such as shibori and eco-printing. Each participant will make their own plant dyed silk scarf or cotton bag. BONE TOOLS Bone is a commonly found and very durable resource. It can be worked into a variety of tools - from knife blades to sewing awls - and easily last for many years as a working implement. Each bone on an animal has a purpose it’s best suited for in the tool world. Here, we will be talking about those specifics, as well as how to work with bone. PRIMITIVE SEWING KIT Crafting things by hand can be so rewarding, but can you imagine how it feels when you get to use tools that you made to do it? Learn how to create needles, awls, knives, needle cases, bags, and fiber out of stone, bone, wood, antler, plants, sinew, and leather. We will also talk about material selection and preparation. Many of the same techniques and materials you will learn can also be used to make spear points, fishing hooks and more. You will leave with a hand sewn leather bag filled with everything you need to start your next crafting project. DRUM MAKING Drums were one of the first instruments, which could explain why people are naturally drawn to the sound of drums. Drums can be very calming or can stir up a wild energy and making your own drum can be a powerful experience. In this class, we will talk about how to prepare the hide and frame as well as learn the techniques for stretching and tying the drum together. Leave with an amazing handbuilt instrument! SMUDGE KIT Burning sage - along with other dried herbs - could be a form of personal ritual or group ceremony. Certain herbs will help to shake off the road dust and release any unnecessary, lingering energy, while others have antibacterial properties to help clarify the air in your home. Some cultures even use the smoke from the burning herbs to carry their intentions out into the universe. In this class, we will discuss a few herbs to work with and make them into a bundle, make a small fan of feathers, and a leather pouch to hold your special belongings. PRIMITIVE GLUES Primitive Glues were made from a number of different materials and were used to waterproof baskets and canoes, attach arrowheads to shafts, make wooden boxes and much more. Students will learn the materials and techniques to make Pitch Glue and Birch Tar from trees as well as hide glue from leftover rawhide scraps. MOCCASINS Protecting your feet is a top priority when you are walking in nature. Traditionally made out of animal pelts and leather, Moccasins are a light, durable and comfortable primitive footwear that not only protects your feet from rocks, thorns, and cold but also quiets your step. Additionally, they allow your feet to feel the earth, connecting you deeper with the landscape. Learn how to measure, cut and sew yourself a pair of moccasins based on a traditional style. All tools and materials provided. HIDE TANNING AND FUR PROCESSING The art of making leather has been around for forever. Being able to make your own clothes that were strong and durable, but also soft and incredibly warm was a necessity for long term living in the woods. There are many methods of making varying qualities of leather. For this class we will be focusing on brain-tanning, or more specifically, making buckskin from Whitetail Deer hide. There will also be discussions on bark-tanning and hair-on tanning. All hides are from roadkill or were getting thrown away by butchers ATLATL The atlatl - or spearthrower - is an ancient hunting technology. It allowed hunters to take down larger prey at a greater distance. In this class, we will be making simple, yet functional tools from the landscape, and learning the technique for accuracy and power. No animals will be hunted in this class. THE ART OF EARTHENWARE POTTERY It is a magical thing to pull wild clay from the earth and form it into a pot that can be used to cook over an open fire. In this class, we will follow the steps that have been used for thousands of years to produce pottery that can last just as long. The Hudson Valley is a rich source of high quality clays, even the Empire State building is made from clay from right out of the Hudson River. Over the 4 Earthenware sessions, participants will learn how to filter, process, form and fire local clay to produce beautiful hand-made vessels. We will also cover the history, primitive tools, tempers, and firing methods from different areas of the world. Each participant's final projects will include a primitive pottery toolkit as well as multiple clay vessels. SELF BOW MAKING Archery is one of the most effective methods of hunting that was ever discovered. There are many types of wood and styles of bow that can be used to make a tool that is equally beautiful as it is deadly. The self bow specifically is made out of a single section of wood, nothing added and can last for generations. In this class you will learn how to select, season and prepare your bow wood, shape it to its final form, make a bow string and more. Leather Bags Making a leather bag can be a supremely rewarding experience. You can make a bag that fits on a necklace or a full size backpack with some simple techniques. In this class, participants will learn how to cut the leather to design a bag, add pockets, buttons, and decoration and how to sew with leather thong, sinew, and natural fibers.
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