Next Monday, the Star is running a story about a three-day course I took with a group called Sticks and Stones Wilderness School, part of the adult programs offered through Toronto's P.I.N.E. Project.
The story focuses on our lesson on how to build a debris hut or shelter created out of sticks and leaves, but we also created our own bow drill kits and discussed how to find food and water in remote areas.
If you click on this link you can check out an awkward-looking photo of me using a bow-drill kit.
I am hooked and plan to head to a week-long course in early September offered by Sticks and Stones. If you don't have a week, check out what P.I.N.E offers in the way of adult workshops.
That lengthy explanation is really just a set-up for a conversation I just had with a super nice lady named Aly Ostrowski, 26, who was along for the three-day weekend and is preparing to leave for Wilderness Awareness School.
I had contacted her to ask for some photos she took and she rather casually mentioned in an email that she is about to leave for the program mentioned above and suggested I check it out.
I went to the website expecting to read about a week-long course or, at best, a month-long one. Thanks, Ostrowski, for short-circuiting my brain a little bit.
Here is a short description of what she has signed up for on the website.
"At Anake Outdoor School you experience 9 months of in-depth training in a powerful set of nature awareness and wilderness survival skills. You are guided through field studies focused on:
- primitive wilderness survival skills
- wild edible plant preparations
- principles of leadership
- nature-based mentoring skills
- wildlife tracking techniques
- bird language studies "
Ostrowski, who took psychology and peace conflict studies at McMaster University and recently graduated from teachers college, said her education had already brought her in contact with people with knowledge of indigenous skills and the environment.
But it was her work at the P.I.N.E summer camps this year ("best thing that ever happened" to her) that was the tipping point that pushed her in the direction of the course. She jokes that after her summer some of her family members actually became concerned about her growing infatuation with primitive skills.
When she emerges from the program, she hopes to use her expanded knowledge to teach.
"This is a totally new chapter of my life,” said Ostrowski, when I asked her how she feels about her upcoming adventure.
“I had taken some courses with (Skeet Sutherland from Sticks and Stones and other instructors) and P.I.N.E. really helped, but I still feel like I am in kindergarten with all of this.”
She admits she is excited for the adventure side of the course, but more because she feels “drawn to a safe and intelligent and conscious community.”
“We don’t do this because we fear collapse. We do this because it is a way of life we believe in," she said.
(Dear beloved bosses) I love my job but have to admit the idea of cutting loose from computers, city streets and smog for nine months and going through what will certainly be a totally transformative experience sounds like paradise.
Dear Ostrowski, thanks for the chat, good luck and hope you send stories when you get back. Wild.