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Wilderness Guide Program

In 2016 - 2017 the Wilderness Guide Program will integrate the themes of natural childrearing and Guardian training.Go to the Family Yearlong Blog to see what was going on at our last Family Wilderness Guide Program in 2012-2013 or to read about past Guardian Trainings check out the Guardian Chronicles.

About the Wilderness Guide Program

Experiential learning is the cornerstone of this 11-month wilderness immersion experience. Participants live day-to-day in a native-modeled encampment, learning and practicing the essential qualitative skills of communication and cooperation, along with all the skills needed to build, maintain, and live in a North Woods native camp. This includes first aid, weather forecasting, nutrition, personal hygiene, food procurement, and many other skills. You learn how to drink wild water, how to make your own shelters and skin clothing, and which plants to use for wounds and intestinal cramps. At times, you gather most of your food by foraging, trapping, snaring, and fishing. You'll be walking silently and seeing more than you ever knew existed. You learn first-hand the spiritual life of the native. You'll know, from their direct teaching, the ways of wolf and raven, of the elder trees and healing herbs. (And you'll be gaining evolved skills and deeper awarenesses that are not possible to describe here in this limited space.)

For nearly a year, hours and minutes, weeks and months, cease to exist, as do accustomed standards of measurement. Time is told by the moon and how long it takes to paddle across the lake, and length is determined by finger, hand, and arm. You greatly advance toward being earth-sufficient rather than self-sufficient, toward living rather than just surviving, toward dwelling in attuned immersion rather than merely observing and dreaming.

In this one-of-a-kind program, just as with a native group, the agenda is set by the needs of the camp and individuals involved rather than by a teacher. The teachers (known as guides) work one-on-one with participants to gear the experience specifically to individual needs and interests.

The location is Nishnajida, the school's 80 acre preserve adjacent to the Headwaters Wilderness in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and located 6 miles from Nadmadewining, our administrative center and support community. Participants hike or paddle to Nadmadewining every new moon for a day of research (there are no books at camp) and communicating with family and friends.

What draws someone to take part in such an experience? Imagine you are a Wolf and have lived in a cage all your life. You have yearned to learn the natural ways of your ancestors, of your wild and free kin. One day the cage door is opened and there to meet you is a guide who stays with you for the next turn of the seasons. He helps you get in touch with your deepest self and heal through the pain and numbness of your caged life. You learn how to walk honorably and respectfully on the Earth--how to re-attune your senses, forage, and find shelter. You regain your intuitive knowledge of how to find your way, forecast the weather, and readily adapt to a wide variety of climates. Awakening to your true self, you soon gain the confidence to share your gifts and talents with your campmates.

When it is time for your path and your guide's to separate, you are ready to rejoin your pack and walk in balance with your plant and animal relations. You no longer dwell in your ego, but in your heart-of-hearts: that place of inner balance where senses, intuition, intellect, and feelings meet. Carrying the flame of the Old Way within you, you feel empowered to go and ignite the fire in others.

No prior outdoor experience is required. In fact, previous training could get in the way, as you would likely have to unlearn much of it in order to learn native ways as they are actually lived. The only admission requirement is to come honorably, with hunger (what we call an empty bowl) and an open heart.

If you are serious about doing the WGP we ask that you come during the current program and visit for a week to get a real feel for what you will be doing at Nishnajida. We require prospective Seekers to do this so your decisions are based on experience; we encourage folks to come early in the decision making process. We don't allow visitors during the months of May and March, the first and last months of the program.

If you have an interest in the Wilderness Guide Program and have any questions, please send an email along with your name and phone number to balance (at) teachingdrum (dot) org. The Family Wilderness Guide Program is now open for applications. Everyone participating will receive preliminary materials and suggested readings, and will be invited to join a forum so we can begin coming together as clan several moons before the experience begins.


For more on the Wilderness Guide Program, we invite you to browse our photo gallery and general information on the Teaching Drum and read the testimonials of our graduates. Read about the 2012 Family Wilderness Guide Program at the Family Yearlong Blog and the Wilderness Guide Chronicles.

Wilderness Guide Program Information Packet

FREE - Electronic Version


Download the Wilderness Guide Program Information Packet .

The e-packet consists of all the documents included in the paper version in PDF format packed in a .ZIP file. Most computers already include appropriate software to open and view it.

$7 - Paper Version


The packet contains:

$14.50 - Paper Version w/ Journey to the Ancestral Self


Order the Wilderness Guide Program information packet (printed paper version) along with Journey to the Ancestral Self, (required reading for WGP) by Tamarack Song for 50% off the cover price.
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