The Wilderness Guide Training Semester

Course Info
· Length: 9-Weeks
· Spring Term
· Max. Size: 10
· College Credits: 10
· GI Bill: Yes
· Americorps: Yes
· Tuition: $7250

Canoe Expedition & Outdoor Leadership In Maine

Professional Training For Wilderness Guides
College-Accredited, GI Bill Approved

Course Calendar     Register Now

The Wilderness Guide Training Semester is our newest course. 

In 2020 we’re changing our spring semester course. Since we started running 2 semester courses per year, they have been the same course in different seasons. In 2020, we’re creating something new; a semester based around canoe expeditions and focused on guiding and life on the trail. It will be similar in design to the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, with the main difference being a focus on travel and life on the trail. It’s designed to be physically challenging, starting on snowshoes and in hot tents and finishing by traveling 300 miles on the remote waterways of northern Maine. In past spring semesters we’ve shortened the time on the trail to make room for all the things we need to finish in camp. In this semester, the focus is life on the trail and perfecting the canoe skills, woods skills and leadership skills of a professional wilderness guide.

This course will be hard. It is designed to challenge you. From cold and snow to high water, to bugs – you’ll see it all.

We’ll start while the snows are still deep at the field school. As the snow melts, we’ll spend the first 3 weeks learning about snowshoes, winter tents, wood stoves, and other cold weather necessities. We’ll also make canoe paddles using simple hand tools.

During those initial weeks we’ll dive deep into the core Jack Mountain curriculum: fire, axe, knife, saw, weather, cooking, tree ID, etc. As soon as there’s open water, we’ll be learning the Jack Mountain methods of expedition canoeing.

In early May we’ll head out on our first expedition. It will be cold (air and water) and challenging with varying degrees of whitewater. On the trip we’ll basecamp in a few spots to work on canoe skills. At the end of the trip is a 2 mile stretch of class 3 whitewater, so we’ll have to train hard to be ready for it.

For the remainder of the course we’ll alternate time on the trail with time at the field school.

When we start the course, the instructors will be the guides. As you become more skilled, the instructors will step back. By the end of the course, the students will be the guides.

We’ll work hard to teach you everything you need to know to pass the state exam to become a Registered Maine Guide. It will be a lot of work.

By the end of the course you’ll have paddled, poled and lined close to 300 miles. You’ll have cooked countless meals over an open fire. You’ll know the routes, the campsites, the hazards, and the skills needed to guide trips on your own. You’ll be well on your way to becoming a professional wilderness guide, whether for friends or professionally. The woods and waters will be your home.

Along the way we’ll cover the standard Wilderness Bushcraft Semester curriculum. There will be fewer large crafts, balanced by more time spent on the trail.

The goal of the course is to train the best wilderness guides in the USA, and along the way to provide an authentic wilderness experience unavailable elsewhere.

If you’re looking for a challenge and you want to have an authentic experience living in the big woods north of Katahdin, if you want to differentiate yourself from the rest of the bushcraft herd that films endless outdoor gear reviews in suburbia, or if you’re looking to become a legitimate wilderness guide, consider this opportunity.

Blowing a bow drill coal in a tinder bundle into a flame.

7 Elements Of Jack Mountain Programs

Skill – Journey – Craft – Nature – Culture – Sustainability – Self

Drawing on the philosophies of bushcraft we’ve developed over almost 20-years of field courses, the traditions of Maine Guides that go back generations, the Cree concept of miyupimaatisiium (translated as “being alive well”) and the Scandinavian idea of friluftsliv (translated as “open air life”), the following seven elements comprise the components of our semester and yearlong programs.

1. Skill – Learn by doing. Too much of modern education is theoretical, abstract and sedentary, where the head is engaged but the hands are not. We depart from that norm with a tangible, hands-on approach that emphasizes being an active participant in the natural world and in life. Our 21-point curriculum focuses on necessary skills for the professional outdoors person.

2. Journey – Travel through remote parts of the north woods alongside professional guides, directly experiencing what you’re learning. Live in the bush for extended lengths of time where the focus isn’t simply how-to, but living with efficiency and grace that come with extensive experience.

3. Craft – Explore the world with your hands. Build useful items from materials gathered on the landscape. Man needs tools to live. Making these necessary items from materials gathered from the landscape bonds you to the land and makes you self-reliant.

4. Nature – Learn the language of the world around you. Study the weather, edible/medicinal plants, fungi, mammals and their tracks, birds, fish, mollusks, insects, amphibians, reptiles, rocks, minerals, soil, water, ice, celestial bodies and ecology.

5. Culture – Culture is the human element, or soft skills, which make or break an expedition. Learn management and leadership skills crucial to the professional guide and outdoor leader, as well as how to instruct effectively.

6. Sustainability – Life is different with minimal infrastructure. Learn the techniques of living a simple, low-tech life with minimal inputs by living them every day. Compost everything that will rot, grow food, reuse and repurpose resources, care for the land and leave it healthier for future generations.

7. Self – Learn your specific needs and boundaries. In a world of generalizations, it’s important to know exactly what you need to function well. How much sleep do you need to function? How much water? How much of a bed do you need to make in order to sleep well? This is about intimately knowing yourself and what you need to do to keep your body alive and well. The only way to learn it is to live it.


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