Class Theme: Wilderness Survival including Bow Drill Fire Demo

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

Before Class: Please arrive early in order to complete any registration information, view recommended books, and answer questions.

15 Minutes on Rope Making: 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.

30 Minutes on 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.

30 Minutes on Shelter vs. Navigation: To get a jump-start on this discussion, check out our article on shelter. We will discuss the decisions made during your Five Minute Emergency Drill, 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.

15 Minutes on 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.

30 Minutes on 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.

30 Minutes on Food: The depth to which we will discuss food will be entirely time dependent. 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!

30 Minutes for the Five 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

After Class - Feedback & Planning: 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: January 23, 2015 at the Tacoma Branch Mountaineers Building in Old Town Tacoma, WA. Other options include our Wilderness Survival Weekend Workshop and our summer Wilderness Survival Training & Trek week. Other available venues also include:

Bellingham & Sumas at the Sumas Community Center & City Park, Village Books in Old Fairhaven, Western Washington University, and other venues by request with instructors Charlie Borrowman, Bill Baroch, Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Snohomish & Skagit Valley at Deception Pass, Edgewater Park, Shambala Farm, Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater, Sultan City Park, and other venues by request with instructors Charlie Borrowman, Bill Baroch, Jason Patterson, Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Seattle and the East Side at the UW Burke Museum, Center for Urban Horticulture, Good Shepherd Center, Bellevue Community Centers, Lewis Park Environmental Center, Lake Sammamish State Park, North Rose Hill Woodlands Park Shelter and other venues by request with instructors Charlie Borrowman, Megan Damofle, Jason Patterson, Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Silverdale, Kitsap & OlyPen at the Clear Creek Interpretive Center in Silverdale, Fort Townsend State Park near Chimacum, and other venues by request with instructors Charlie Borrowman, Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Olympia & Chehalis at Stan Hedwell Park, Centralia Community College, Millersylvania State Park, Burfoot County Park, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Evergreen State College, Grayland State Park, and other venues by request with instructors Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Cle Elum – Ellensburg – Wenatchee – Yakima – Tri-Cities at Central Washington University, Irene Rhinehart Park, Umtanum Canyon, Gigkgo State Park, the Yakima Museum in Toppinish, Columbia Basin College, Whitman College and other venues by request with instructors Nicco Minutoli, Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Spokane & Couer D’Alene – Pullman & Lewiston at Riverside State Park, WSU and other venues by request with instructors Nicco Minutoli, Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Portland, The Dalles & Vancouver WA at the Columbia Springs Environmental Center in Vancouver, at the Oregon Sierra Club, Peninsula Park Community Center, Tryon Creek Natural Area, and other venues by request with instructors Charlie Borrowman, Patrick Wiley, Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Eugene, Salem, Corvallis, Albany and the Oregon Coast on campus at the University of Oregon, on the coast in Florence, and by request in other venues with instructors Charlie Borrowman, Patrick Wiley, Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Medford, Ashland, Klamath Falls, Madras & Bend, Oregon by request with instructors Charlie Borrowman, Patrick Wiley, Kim & Chris Chisholm.

Northern California, Central Valley, Bay Area & SoCal by request with instructors Charlie Borrowman, Patrick Wiley, Kim & Chris Chisholm

Other Class Topics During the Academic Year:

January: Wilderness Survival Skills including Bow Drill Fire Demo

February: Natural Navigation, Map & Compass, Lostproofing, & Orienteering

March: Local Wild Edible Plants & Backcountry Herbal Medicine

April: Safety, Tracks & Bird Alarms in Cougar, Wolf & Bear Country

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

October: Climate Change Training – Lifestyle, Debates, Emergencies & Carbon Sequestration

November: Backcountry Crafts – Making Rope, Berry Collecting Baskets, Sleeping Bag Mats & More


Call 253-604-4681 with a credit card to register for any of these semi-monthly classes. Start anytime. No prerequisite. Questions? Email anytime.