Ask Urban Scout: Rewilding Schools?

What up scout! A while ago I think I saw on your website that you were recommending some sort of all-encompassing, 9 month postapocalyptic survival school based in the Portland area? If I recall, you were featured as an occasional instructor. I’m pretty sure I didn’t hallucinate this, but I can’t find any evidence of the website, the course, or the blog you made about it.I am desperately in need of something like that as I don’t feel really confident in learning about things like edible plants outside of such an immersive environment, and would really like a 9 month vacation from my real life, besides.Is this school still available? If not, is there any other program or collection of programs you might recommend that might eventually instill in me the confidence and skills to live indefinitely and sustainably in wilderness and semi-wilderness areas? Thanks!- Nachie

Hey Nachie,

You’re not hallucinating! I was going to be involved with a program that taught some of that stuff. Unfortunately the dude in charge stole the show and decided to go in a different direction than rewilding and I did not want to be a part of that. Which brings me to a very important topic on the subject of educational programs; rhetoric. Many of these programs have flashier and flashier marketing with enticing prose and inspiring photographs that are designed to excite you, the consumer, into taking their programs. In the end though, the classes are empty of culture and real content and are often taught by beginners, fresh out of a different year long program, with little to no real world experience or knowledge, who basically parrot what they were taught by other parrots in their first year. This creates a culture of a lot of know-it-all’s who actually have no fluency in skills other than crafting a few hand-made tools or in running “nature awareness” games (which is what they spend most of their time doing). I know this, because I was one of these parrots and still find myself parroting shit! I don’t recommend schools because none of them actually teach rewilding. Rewilding is about creating and maintaining culture, not a few primitive parlor tricks. These schools are either focused on primitive tools or permaculture or some non cohesive jumble of the two. If that’s your bag, then by all means. I’m sure you can find them using google. But tools won’t get you living sustainably in the wilds; culture does that.

The only educational program I ever recommend is Martin Prechtel’s “Bolad’s Kitchen.” It is actually based on re-creating a holistic indigenous culture, taught by someone who lived in, and played a role in, multiple indigenous cultures for most of his life. His school has almost nothing to do with hand-made tools and everything to do with culture.

But mostly I recommend starting a community in your own place: see my chapter “Schooling Vs. Rewilding

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6 Comments on “Ask Urban Scout: Rewilding Schools?”

  1. Bolad’s Kitchen will make a man out of you.

    Unless it makes a woman out of you instead. It depends on whether you started out a boy or a girl.

    Anyway, more to the point, it will make an adult out of you.

    Any “school” that requires you to answer a riddle to get in, definitely has one up on Hogwarts. Just sayin’.

  2. Yeah, I frequently get frustrated with the “programs” offered here in Portland which will supposedly teach you to “return to the wild” or some such shit. I feel like what we really need to be building is community or tribes or packs or whatever you want to call it, because a group of people who have your back is way more useful in a survival or rewild siduation then knowing a few skills (the skills are important as well, but they don’t amount to shit if you don’t have other community members to pick up the pieces you didn’t learn.) It is impossible for one person to learn all the medicinal plants, all wild edibles, plus shelter building, tanning hides, dental care, childbirth techniques, fire starting, shoe making, etc, etc.
    You have to start with culture and community; that I believe is the base.

    Find your pack,

  3. I first heard of Martin Prechtel several months ago while listening to this: I REALLY resonated with him. Have you or anyone else here gone to Bolad’s Kitchen? I’d like to hear more about it.

    Thanks for everything you wrote, Urban. I’ve had some experience with Wilderness Awareness School up here in WA and I, too, want to take more of a direction of culture.

  4. I currently attend Bolad’s kitchen. I recommend it highly; my comment above comes from personal experience, though a bit tongje in cheek.

    Good stuff. I have a hard time describing it to people; I usually say “we learn about our heritage, ancestry, and work on village skills”, and when they reply “primitive skills, you mean?” I say “well, yes, but more to the point: village skills”.

    If you want to learn “wilderness survival”, you won’t learn it there. But you will learn “cultural survival”.

  5. Thanks, Willem. Which “class” do you attend? Does it matter which one I would join into? (I suppose you can’t join into one that has already begun in the series, but do they all cover roughly the same thing? I suppose it depends on the luck of the draw to a large extent.)

    “Find your last happy ancestor,” I remember him saying on the podcast. I need to read his books. I will look into all of this further.

  6. Well, he enrolls a new group of students every couple years; you might squeeze into the one that started this last December (my group, “the New Sprouts”). Otherwise you’ll need to wait a year or two for the next group/class to open up.

    Also, compulsively reading his books, talking about them endlessly with friends, until you have them memorized inside and out, should keep you plenty busy if you choose to wait, which I recommend. Rushing into Bolad’s Kitchen won’t do you any favors.