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Course Catalog

Course Catalog

Class Theme: Wilderness Survival & Emergency Fire Making

Wolf Journey Book IV - Trail of the Survival Scout - Artwork by Joanna ColbertQuick Wilderness Survival Skills Class Itinerary:

6:15 PM – Please arrive early in order to complete any registration information, view recommended books, and answer questions. Arrive early so we can teach you to make rope from all-natural materials which is one of the most important survival skills. Wolf College instructors Kim & Chris Chisholm will teach everyone how to “reverse wrap” grasses, cedar bark, stinging nettles, and other materials into strong rope. In a survival situation, it is also important to multi-task, so as you practice your reverse-wrap, everyone will also introduce themselves with their primary interest for the day.

6:30 PM – Essential Gear and the Critical Order of Emergency Survival: As you probably know, beginning hikers should never leave home without the 10 Essentials, but as your wilderness skills grow, that list begins to change. For instance, if you become versed in making fire-by-friction using the “bow-drill” method of “rubbing two sticks together,” you may find that this “primitive” skill is actually the most dependable fire-starting method in our cold, damp Pacific Northwest weather. So although bringing a fire-starting kit is great, it might not be as important as bringing a metal pot. Why? Chris will lead a discussion on this fascinating perspective.

7:00 PM – Water: Now that giardia is pervasive in fresh water throughout North America, if your water filter fails, or you run out of purification tabs, what then? We will bring samples of “burn bowls” and show you how to make them in case you are caught without a metal pot to boil water in, and show you how to “rock boil” water in order to purify it.

7:15 PM – Food: Since next month’s class focuses on wild edible food and medicine, tonight will just be an introduction. We will start with wild edible plants that grow locally as well as out in the wilderness. We will also discuss the Big 5 foods you would seek out right away in a wilderness survival situation, even before resorting to hunting and fishing. Then join us in March for our full class on wild foods!

7:30 PM – Navigating vs Sheltering: We will quickly touch on navigation as an introduction to the next class in our series, and focus more on making the decision as to whether to stay or go during an emergency. We will discuss factors to consider, and then we’ll show you actual materials you might find in the Pacific Northwest wilderness with which you can make shelter in case of emergency. We will demonstrate the lean-to, debris hut, and finding natural shelters, plus discuss the limitations of each structure in the Pacific Northwest. If time and space allows, we will again break into groups, and each group will have 5 minutes to build the best shelter possible for the “model” we provide. This activity is a real eye-opener for understanding actual shelter-building in emergency situations.

7:45 PM – Fire: Of course, if you don’t have a fire source, then you can’t boil water or enjoy comforting external warmth. It is critical to practice making fire with all-natural materials. Unfortunately, few people actually practice this, and it’s hard to do, especially in wet Pacific Northwest climates. We will set up “tipi” and “lean-to” and “log cabin” style fire demonstrations, discuss proper use of matches, lighters and magnesium, and then actually light (but of course immediately put out) a fire by “rubbing two sticks together” using the bow-drill fire-by-friction method. You can also get a jump-start on this lesson by reading our article on fire.

8:00 PM – Fifteen Minute Emergency Drill: We will present a survival scenario, and you can “go it alone” or form a small group to figure out how best to survive the situation based on the order of survival, your level of experience, and other factors.

Participant blows traditional fire by friction coal into flame

8:30 PM – Questions & Review: Please join Chris & Kim after class to review experiences, browse resources, discuss feedback, and brainstorm ideas for the future. Email or Call us at any time with any questions and requests.


– Hats, warm clothes, proper footwear, and rain gear if necessary for the outdoor portion of class.
– Flashlight/Headlamp will make things a lot easier for map reading after sunset.
– Any of the 10 Hiking Essentials to show that you think are necessary for being prepared to survive in the backcountry.

To get a jump-start on the skills we cover in this class click here for our blog post on the subject and to practice these skills in depth, check out our summer kids camps, our overnight youth camps and adult expeditions covering wilderness survival. Available for sale at class will be:

– Bow Drill Fire Kits for $10 (home made)
– Most recommended Fire Steel for $15 (made in Vancouver WA) with tinder.
– Most recommended books and field guides (so you don’t have to waste money on unnecessary ones)
– Used survival knives by Mora of Sweden for $15 (best for anywhere close to price)

Class Locations:

Next Regularly Scheduled Class: February 5, 2016 in Puyallup WA. We will email you directions and the preparatory information upon registration and a couple days before class. Other options include our Wilderness Survival Weekend Workshop and our summer Wilderness Survival Training & Trek week. Questions? Email anytime.

Friday Evening Class Series Fee Options:

Pre-Registration: $20 for one person, plus $15 for additional friends/family members registering together.

At-The-Door: $25 for one person, plus $15 for additional friends/family members attending together.

Registration Options:

PayPal Option: Register securely for our Friday Evening Classes with a credit/debit card or via direct withdrawal from your bank account. Click to Choose Your Deposit Options:
Choose Your Class Theme/Date:
Participant Name; Age if Minor:
Cell Phone Number(s):

Check/Mail Registration Option: Send with a check payable to the Wolf College, 1026 14th St. SW, Puyallup WA 98371 with participant name(s), phone number, email address, age of any minors, and any allergies or health restrictions we should know about.

Credit/Debit Card Registration Option: Just call us at 425-248-0253 or 253-604-4681 and we will run your card securely over the phone. Questions? Email anytime.

Our refund policy: Deposits are not refundable unless your registration is not accepted. You may receive a credit for a future program, minus a 25% administration fee of total payments made, in case of emergency. You will receive a full refund if your program is canceled and not rescheduled at a time that you can attend. No refund (and not necessarily any credit) is given if a participant is inappropriate at the program and asked to leave.

Other Class Topics During the Academic Year:

Jan-Feb: Wilderness Survival Skills including Bow Drill Fire Demo

Feb-Mar: Natural Navigation, Map & Compass, Lostproofing, & Orienteering

Mar-Apr: Local Wild Edible Plants & Backcountry Herbal Medicine

Apr-May: Safety, Tracks & Bird Alarms in Cougar, Wolf & Bear Country

• June: Special Week of Classes at the Wolf Campus in Puyallup

• July: Special Week of Classes at Lake Sammamish in Issaquah

Sep-Oct: Climate Change Training – Lifestyle, Debates, Emergencies & Carbon Sequestration

Oct-Nov: Backcountry Crafts – Making Rope, Berry Collecting Baskets, Sleeping Bag Mats & More

To schedule other morning or afternoon classes for homeschool families, private schools, scouts and other groups, we recommend 3 hour class times for the subjects above, such as 10:30-1:30, and collecting $15-$25 for the first family member, $10-$15 per additional family member, with a minimum of $225 required for most classes in Pierce County, depending on exact location, materials needed, and instructor availability.

To schedule other in-depth workshop level programs we recommend 6-8 hour time periods, collecting $45-$95 per person depending on subject materials, similar to what is shown on our workshops page.