If you are interested in scheduling a private class for your family, friends or group, please let us know!
Classes are held outdoors unless noted. In case of rain, snow or temperatures below freezing, the class will be rescheduled and you may choose the new date or a refund.
One of the most gratifying primitive skills is the art of cooking over an open fire. We will cook ourselves a feast using cooking techniques that have been developed by indigenous cultures around the world. Using clay, coals, sticks, stones, steam and smoke unlocks a unique flavor in the food. Part of this class may include harvesting wild edible plants as part of our meal. Vegetarians welcome.
Local Plants: Food, Medicine and More
Join us as we explore the property and get first hand experience meeting and interacting with the local plants. We will be studying, drawing, photographing, and eating plants, as well as learning about medicinal qualities and utilitarian purposes - such as which plant fibers work best for rope making, or which trees have good bark for baskets. We will also identify some poisonous plants, and talk about their hazards. By studying and getting hands-on experience with wild edibles and medicinals, your ability to care for yourself and others expands, and you begin to realize how much the earth actually does provide for us.
Introduction to Bird Languages
Imagine what it would be like to have such a deep knowledge of that natural world, that even the slightest flutter of a bird's wing, or the softest bird call in the distance could tell you a world of information. Or maybe you're someone who is tired of only catching a fleeting glimpse of animals scurrying away from you, long before you notice them. Birds are like the security systems of the forest, and they will always alert you to a sneaking fox, or a nearby roosting owl. Deciphering Bird Language is the gateway to this special world that is right under our noses. Come embark on a long-term, life changing journey as we dive in to learn the language of the birds.
Movement, Awareness & Camouflage
The most important skill one can possess in life is Awareness. Having a good awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and your situation is the key to knowing how to navigate through it. Not only does that mean heightening our senses to detect those things otherwise overlooked, but it also implies the ability to move through those situations while remaining unnoticed or invisible. By learning how to move silently through the landscape, you will feel more at home and relaxed anytime you venture outdoors. This class will also focus on slowing down our body and mind, and opening up our other senses to connect with things that are usually overlooked.
Tracking is the ultimate form of awareness. As a human being, you are born to be a tracker. If you are reading this right now, you tracked down this webpage. The key to becoming a great tracker is always asking the questions, “What happened here? What is this telling me?” When you start to embody those questions, the world becomes alive in a way you haven’t experienced, and you’ll never be able to look at things the same way again.
Primitive Shelter Building
Shelter is the most important skill to possess when it comes to a survival situation. In this program we'll cover the basics of shelter, ranging from the clothes on your back to the hands-on experience of building a primitive shelter. Is it a hot day and you need to keep yourself out of the sun? Is it cold and wet and you need to create a warm and dry dwelling that can be heated solely by your body? Are you with multiple people and needing a larger, more permanent structure? Knowing how to build a shelter - with nothing more than your bare hands and the materials that the land provides - is a tremendously empowering and freeing skill.
Intro to Primitive Fire Building
Fire is one of the greatest tools that humans can possess. Whether it's used to treat your water and cook your food, or warm your shelter and provide light to work by, the possibilities and uses of fire are endless. If you've ever spent a night camping without a fire, you'll surely feel the lack of its presence. In this program, we'll cover topics ranging from scouting a proper location, proper material collection, structure building, and fire safety. Participants will even have the opportunity to work with the bow drill fire-making method, as well as a few other primitive methods, including ferro rods, commonly referred to as flint and steel.
Advanced Primitive Fire Making - Make Your Own Bow-Drill Kit
The bow drill is one of the most reliable ways to create fire by friction. In this program, participants who have worked with the bow drill fire making method in the past, will now be making their own personal bow drill kits, from start to finish. We will be going into detailed description of each individual part, which materials to work with/avoid, as well as perfecting the technical aspects of the bow drill technique. Includes the use of knives/tools; all materials will be included, and the kits will be yours to take home and continue working with.
Intro to Basketry-Basic Splintwork
Basketry is the art of working with flexible organic materials - bark, sapling, fibers, splints, etc. - and interweaving them into usable containers of various sizes. Baskets were an essential tool for our ancestors, and still are highly valued today. Whether you're looking to make a collection basket, a long-term pack basket, or a simple container for household goods, this technique is for you! In this program, we'll dive into one of the most basic styles of basic weaving: splintwork. We will spend our time weaving a small, model-sized basket to teach you the basic principles. After that, there is no limit to what is possible with this simple technique!
Making Cordage & Natural Fiber Processing
Knowing how to make strong, durable rope was an essential skill for our ancestors. Take a moment and think about all the uses of ropes, strings, and threads in our modern, everyday use; your clothing, the dog's leash, shoelaces, and bags are only a few examples. When dealing with a primitive living situation, the list of practical uses for good cordage is virtually endless. In this program, we'll be working with a simple reverse-wrap cordage making method. Once everyone is up to speed with that, we will get some hands-on experience processing local plants into usable fibers. All materials included.
Acorn Processing (Fall)
Acorns are a critically important food and nutrition source for just about every animal on the landscape. However, unlike the animals, we need to process them properly in order to make them edible, and actually quite tasty. In this program, we will go through the steps of proper acorn identification, specimen collection and processing, leeching, and cooking with it. At the end of the day, you’ll have a bag of mostly-processed acorns that are only a day or two away from turning into delicious flour.
Making Coal Burned Bowls
Coal burning is the art of using fire to create vessels of all shapes and sizes. Perhaps you'd like to coal burn a spoon or ladle to serve your food with. Or maybe you and your family are burning out a canoe for a lifetime of fishing and exploration. In this class, we'll be focusing on simple, coal burned bowls. If done correctly, these vessels can last a lifetime, and easily be used to transport and treat water, as well as serve food. No prior experience necessary. All tools, materials and supplies will be provided.
Sat, Oct 1, 10:00am-4:00pm: Splintwork Basketry
Basketry is the art of working with flexible organic materials - bark, sapling, fibers, splints, etc. - and interweaving them into usable containers of various sizes. Baskets can be made from a variety of natural materials - tree bark, fibers, splints, vines, saplings, roots, pine needles, and more. They can be woven into any size or shape, and are commonly used for plant collection, nut harvesting, transporting goods, and even boiling water and cooking in! Baskets were an essential tool for our ancestors, and are still highly valued today. Whether you're looking to make a collection basket, a long-term pack basket, or a simple container for household goods, this technique is for you!In this program, we'll dive into one of the most basic styles of basic weaving: splintwork. We will spend our time weaving a small, model-sized basket to teach you the basic principles. After that, there is no limit to what is possible with this simple technique!
Karin A says: “Joe is an excellent teacher. He has a very good touch with people and knows when they want help, and when they want to do their own thing.”
Joe Blevis, the founder of Winding Water Earth Skills, is a mentor, naturalist, survivalist, and tracker, as well as a passionate woodworker and certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He works with children, adults, and families, helping them reconnect with the natural world. Originally from New Jersey, Joe discovered his passion for earth living skills while living in Montana, and eventually pursued that passion by becoming a student of Tom Brown Jr. and the Tracker School in 2009. After finishing a full-time internship at the Tracker School, he worked with other primitive skills programs across the country, such as Twin Eagles Wilderness School, The Children of the Earth Foundation, and the Whidbey Institute.
Joe leads classes with homeschoolers, private and public schools, and summer camps. He has created programs such as "The Primitive Living Skills" series at the Nature Place Day Camp in NY, and "Forest Fridays" in NJ, to encourage children and adults to develop life long skills and a relationship to the earth. Joe's style of teaching encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to step out of their comfort zone and explore new things, while maintaining a healthy awareness in their everyday lives. As a teacher, his goal is to pass down these skills, accompanied by a sense of wonder, curiosity, reverence, and connection to the Earth.
Schedule a Private Class or Program
If you are interested in scheduling a private program with Joe Blevis at The New Weis Center for your school, homeschool group, Scout troop, private party, family or friends, pleaseContact Us.
For more about Winding Waters Earth Skills, please visit: www.windingwatersearthskills.com
Registration: Please register by clicking the class link above, and complete your registration and payment through Eventbrite.
Payment: Payment is due upon registration and is non-refundable.
Parking: Drive through the outer gate and park near the main brick building.
Age: As noted in the class description. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult (not dropped off), who must also register.
For a list of other classes that Joe teaches, please scroll down. If you'd like to schedule a private class for your group or scout troop, let us know!
Primitive Skills Classes with Joe Blevis, founder of Winding Water Earth Skills