Seasonal Immersion Program

Course Info
· Length: 15 Weeks
· College Credits: 18
· GI Bill: 100%
· Americorps: Yes

15 Weeks, Combination Of 3 Immersion Courses

The Seasonal Bushcraft Instructor & Guide Training Immersion Program (SIP, formerly the Yearlong Immersion) is a full-time, 15 week immersion into bushcraft, guide training, primitive living skills and expedition training. It’s a no BS, no new-age mumbo jumbo, no hand-holding experience that is heavy on academic work and accountability and definitely not for everyone. We’re not trying to appeal to a large audience; we’re looking for people who are determined, coachable, hard workers, and ready for a challenge.  

It is not a calendar year. It is representative of living out in the northern forest in all four season.

The Seasonal Immersion Program combines the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition, the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester and the Primitive Wilderness Living Practicum. To participate in these programs you do NOT need to be in the SIP. 

About The Academic Work:

Many people who matriculate to our school are not interested in academics; they only want the practical, hands-on approach we’re known for. This is fine with us. But the full benefit of an education balances the academic with the practical and  hands-on. Those who are dedicated to both realize the greatest gains. The YIP takes this into account and contains lots of reading, writing and research. If academics don’t appeal to you, you probably won’t be a good fit for the YIP. This isn’t a problem, just stick with our regular programs. You’ll be on the same field courses, just with fewer academic requirements.

By the time you graduate from high school you’ve spent twelve years learning the ways of our culture, but the vast majority of people are still strangers in the natural world that gave rise to it. They have no knowledge of how to take care of themselves. They don’t know how to identify common edible plants, read the sky to forecast the weather, navigate by the stars, build a comfortable shelter out of natural materials, or make a fire without modern equipment. They don’t know the simple, rural, outdoor life that most of humanity has lived.

Many people are motivated to learn and experience more, but most won’t do anything except check out a few websites and learn some buzzwords. But this doesn’t aid you significantly with regards to reaching your goal of being competent and comfortable in the bush in all seasons. If you’re reading this you probably already have a few books that promise to give you all you need to live in the bush for an extended period of time. But they didn’t deliver, so you’re looking for more. To really learn to be self-reliant in the north woods in all seasons, it takes time and experience.

But people in the modern world are lazy. Why do you think there are so many survival tools and gadgets that didn’t exist a hundred years ago, when people spent their lives in the bush? Because everyone wants the easy way. Here’s a news flash; there is no easy way. You can buy all the gear and fake it, but you’ll know you’re faking. Or you can go the hard way, the real way, and know deep inside yourself that you’re the real deal. How will you know? Experience.

This program provides that time and experience. You spend your time in the bush living the life and pursuing an advanced course of study designed to make you a confident outdoor professional. Life is short. Do you want to let another year pass where you feel like an alien in the natural world?

Since 1999 we’ve been providing bushcraft courses and outdoor living experiences for the few who forsake the throng and seek the the bush for what it has to teach. We keep alive the traditional skills of the north woods, and pass them along to the next generation. We invented the genre of immersion semester program in bushcraft and traditional outdoor skills. We’ve run more of them than any other outfit. And we stay small on purpose.

If there’s a faster way to go from city slicker to competent outdoor professional let us know.

How It Works

The Seasonal Immersion Program is a combination of the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, The Boreal Snowshoe Expedition and the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. It also includes the Primitive Wilderness Living Practicum.

The place to begin is with the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester (spring or fall). The Wilderness Bushcraft Semester is a prerequisite for the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester and the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition.

This is a rigorous program: physically, intellectually and  interpersonally. Maintaining motivation will be an ongoing challenge. We reserve the right to wash people out of the program who have lost their motivation or who become a distraction; who don’t uphold the code of conduct we expect from our guides and instructors.

Who This Program Is For

Our yearlong immersion is for people wanting to become bushcraft and wilderness survival instructors, professional wilderness guides, ecotour operators, naturalists and outdoor leaders. It’s also a good fit for people taking a year off after college, those looking for an amazing immersion experience into self-reliance, and those seeking a more intimate contact with the natural world.

Our Goal

To make our students equals. We work side-by-side to bring you up to speed as quickly as possible. You see how we do things and do them yourself. We aim to be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.

How We Accomplish That Goal

1. Knowledge Learn from working guides with a curriculum that’s been refined over 18 years of running extended courses in remote areas.

2. Experience Experience is where our program departs from the norm. This is wilderness living, not just wilderness living skills. Spend your time living, traveling and learning outdoors, working together with master guides and instructors.

3. Documentation Keep track of what you learn with our assessment system. It keeps track of what you’ve accomplished, not just what course you took.

4. Verification Ongoing practical exams demonstrate your knowledge and competency in a variety of specific skills.

Application Process

Choose whether you want to begin with the spring or fall semester. Also note that you have to register for each of the three courses individually. This includes paying a deposit for each individual course.

Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions about the SIP. Here are some of the most common.

How does tuition for the SIP work?

For the purposes of tuition, the SIP is not a single program. Students register and pay for each section individually, as we’ve been doing for years. We do it this way for a number of reasons, the most important being to tame the beast of paperwork on our end.

Can I stay at the field school between programs?

No. We provide no housing and allow no camping between programs. However, there are many camping options in northern Maine.

I’m interested in the program but have a family (or other reasons why I leave my life for an extended period) and want to do it a piece at a time. Is that possible?

Yes. Start with the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. It’s our longest program at 9-weeks. Then add the others in a year, or two, or three, etc.

Can I start in the winter and complete all the courses by summer?

We’re phasing out the option of beginning with the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition after 2018.

Are we the most comprehensive program? Compare us:

There are many outdoor education programs available these days, but there are huge differences in content, educational philosophy, and curriculum between them. When we explain what we do to people with no concept of bushcraft, they often remark, “so it’s just like (insert name of national outdoor company here)”. We reply, “No. In fact the only thing we have in common is that both of our programs emphasize the benefits of being outdoors.”

The large, national companies who advertise in the major magazines offer backpacking and mountaineering programs as their staple, and their ads feature plastic-wrapped hikers carrying huge packs and urging everyone to tread lightly (if you think these ideals are at odds, so do we). While these programs get people out in the natural world, the focus is on human interaction and high-tech gear, not the traditional skills of the wilderness.

There’s also a new genre of program with a focus on tracking and nature awareness that offer yearlong programs, but they meet just 2-3 times per week during bank hours. These programs are great, but their focus, curriculum and methodology is much different than ours.

Our program is different. We’re located in remote northern Maine. The curriculum is organized around intensive outdoor living experiences with an emphasis on traditional skills, nature knowledge and the skills of the professional wilderness guide. In addition to the curriculum, there are many lessons learned as a result of living outdoors that can be learned no other way. The focus is to make you better, more knowledgeable, more confident, and more at home in the forest.
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