Course code:



I - Introductory

Class size limit:


Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Upon occasion

Primitive skills are the knowledge, practices, and simple tools unique to a specific bio-region that allowed the ancestors of modern humans to thrive in every corner of the earth without agriculture or industry. Knowledge of these primitive, or “primary,” skills have been passed down and honed through countless generations, and are still practiced today as a way of connecting with our deep past, the natural world, and a simpler, more intentional way of life. Through this course you will learn Maine-based primitive skills at COA’s Peggy Rockefeller bush-camp, explore primitive skills as a global movement and delve into its philosophical foundations, and track the nature of your evolving relationship with, well, nature. Together we will learn a suite of essential bushcraft skills that are part of a millennia old living tradition of how to travel through and thrive in Maine’s eco-regions and seasons. Some of the core survival skills covered include fire making, shelter building, foraging/hydration, and axe and knife work. But learning how to thrive in the Maine woods requires a very diverse set of knowledge and you will be introduced to: practical botany, cordage and knots, canoeing, animal tracking, traditional craft, navigation, mental preparedness, medicinal plants, first aid, and more. We will explore these topics through readings, videos, and practicum experiences. The driving question of our inquiry is to explore, and experience, the value that primitive skills bring to contemporary life. This class will have one 1.5 hour classroom session and one 3 hour field session per week. Additionally there will be two weekend field trips (dates to be determined by the class). Student evaluation will be based on practicum skill assessments, self-reflection through journaling, and an individual research project. This class is open to all students regardless of their previous background or experience with primitive or outdoor skills. However, students will be expected to engage in moderately strenuous physical activity, including: hikes up to 4 miles, chopping and carrying wood, building structures out of small trees weighing up to 50lbs. Anyone with an interest in primitive skills, outdoor survival, place-based education, or experiential learning would benefit from the class.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.