If you are interested in scheduling one of these classes for your family, friends or group, please let us know!
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 all around the world. Cooking via rock grills and boils, pit steaming, clay baking, or just right on the coals, unlocks a very specific flavor in the food. Part of this class may include wild harvesting part of our meal. Vegetarians welcome.
Masks MUST be worn and social distancing maintained
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.
Movement & Awareness in the Forest
Join us as we learn how to move silently through the forest, while at the same time, deepening our connection and awareness to the natural world! When we move through a town or city, we move at a certain pace, we pay attention to certain things, and we dress to match our environment. However, when we move in the forest, we need to make some serious adjustments - especially if we want to observe or study wildlife. 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.
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.
Primitive Shelter Building
Shelter is your top priority in a survival situation, and one of the most empowering skills to possess. 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. The debris hut, if built correctly, will keep you warm and dry even on the coldest nights, and cool and protected on the hottest days. Together we'll build a one-person debris hut without any man-made materials. After we are done enjoying it, we'll return the materials back to the Earth, and leave our work area better than we found it.
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. If time permits we will make charcloth, your number one tinder material when working with ferro rods.
Advanced 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.
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.
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.
Meet Our Local Plants
Join us as we explore The New Weis Center's 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 some 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. Suggested to bring a notebook, pencil and a camera/cell phone (for pictures only).
Making Slate Knives and Pendants
Making Pitch Glue and Natural Adhesives
More Primitive Skills classes coming soon. Details and registration coming soon!
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 is a mentor, naturalist, survivalist, and tracker, and is a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR). For the last 5 years, he has been working 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 began to work with other primitive skills programs across the country, such as Twin Eagles Wilderness School, The Children of the Earth Foundation, and the Whidbey Institute.
Over the last several years, Joe has lead 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 ancient 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, please Contact Us.
Earth Living Skills is a collective of experienced instructors who provide hands-on enrichment programs, where they share earth living skills such as awareness and connection in nature, how to build shelter using materials found in nature, how to find and purify water, how to make fire with friction, and how to find food off the landscape.
For more about Earth Living Skills, please visit:
GENERAL CLASS DETAILS
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).
For a full list of 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!
8/1/21 UPDATED COVID-19 GUIDELINES: Masks must be worn indoors.
EARTH LIVING SKILLS
Primitive Skills Classes with Joe Blevis - "reconnecting with ancient ways"