Mid-Atlantic Primal Skills (MAPS) Gathering

What a wonderful long weekend out in the woods in Harper’s Ferry, WV attending the Mid-Atlantic Primal Skills (MAPS) gathering as a family! There were over 100 workshops on things like primitive skills and technology, food storage, herbalism, bushcraft, hunting, wilderness survival, earth based skills, nature awareness, and more.

Thanks to Ancestral Knowledge for putting on this event yet again (17th year, was it?!). Ancestral Knowledge offers entry level and advanced programming in a wide range of topics including earth based living skills, nature awareness, primitive technology, and wilderness survival. All of Ancestral Knowledge programs intertwine two methods of teaching: Experiential Education – “learning by doing” and Coyote Teaching – “guiding not giving”.

The event kicked off with Todd Elliott bringing a giant bow drill that required many from the community (taking turns) to create a coal and light the community fire that burns all weekend from Friday morning through Sunday.

Todd believes primitive skills not as mere survival skills but as “thrival” skills – ways of enhancing one’s connection with the natural world. In fact, his childhood passion for the natural world led him to co-author his first peer-reviewed scientific publication by age 14.. He not only share his passion for primal skills, natural relationships and biology with the world, but also music, personal narrative, ballads, and folklore. Check out this Honeybee Fly Around song he did almost 10 years ago.

It was so much fun to see old friends from years past, as well as learn, practice and refine our skills. The kids each had their own class each day, which gave Ray and I time to take some of the adult classes in the mornings before breaking to cook lunch over an open fire. (Thank you Z, Josh, Jen and all those who worked with the kids!) Some afternoons we went on hiking adventures with the kids and other days we took more classes. The days ended with stories, music and laughter around the campfire, not to mention happily exhausted kids (and parents). 🙂

What sort of things did we get to learn about and do? Some of the awesome skills Ray and I personally worked on includes making rawhide containers, diagonally plaited birch bark baskets, mead making, bamboo containers, and making fire with a bow drill. Much gratitude to all of the instructors at MAPS, but I’d like to say a particular think you to Sarah Corrigan and Nick Neddo of ROOTS School for the guidance on a few of my projects. Wish we lived in VT as my kids and I would be active in your youth, teen and adult offerings.

We were able to explore so many other activities just walking around the camp to see the classes others were taking such as working with shelter making, soapstone, clay pottery and firing it over an open fire, and ….

Not to mention the nature-oriented activities our kids came up with on their own like making musical instruments like this xylophone:

Good times and great memories… looking forward to next year! Will we see you there?  🙂

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