The Wilderness Survival Immersion Project (WSIP), an Instuctors Perspective

The range of skills that are taught at ROOTS school is broad and deep.  However, the topic of wilderness survival can be considered to be at the core.  There are many reasons for this, one being that other educational pursuits have no value if you aren’t alive to integrate them.  From the arts of wilderness survival come all other skills. 


 As anyone worth their water would attest, this is a lifelong pursuit.  There are no masters with the exception of wild animals and perhaps what is left of the world’s hunter- gatherer cultures.


Teaching the ancient skills of survival to a small group of committed students over an extended period of time is rewarding and challenging.  I enjoy being an instructor for the WSIP for many of the reasons that I enjoy teaching the Core Skills 1 class: the content is my passion.  Both courses are intensive and experiential immersions in the arts of wilderness survival applied in a modern context.  Both courses emphasis an awareness of our relationship with the living materials of nature.  Where Core Skills 1 is a weeklong crash course, the WSIP occurs over a period of nine months, ending in a 4 day survival trip.  The WSIP demands regular practice and training in order to achieve a functional relationship with the skills.  With each meeting, the group learns and tests new skills in new situations as their collective knowledge of the biotic community expands. 


One summary of the comparison of these two courses is: Core Skills 1 provides the map, and the WSIP takes you orienteering. 


Why I like teaching the WSIP


Commitment:  Educators know that the best students are those who have made a commitment to learn that which is being taught.  With the WSIP, all the students have identified a need to learn how to survive in the wild without pre-manufactured tools.  They have paid money and taken the time out of their regularly scheduled life to be in the woods as a student.


Returning students:  I get to see how students integrate lessons, feedback, and practice from the previous meetings into greater abilities, confidence, and new questions.


Skill development:  I get to watch the skills of the group and individual grow over time.


Integration of practice:  with nine months to teach there is enough time to observe and coach during class practice sessions.


Challenges, natural and contrived:  as an instructor I get to provide potent learning opportunities in the form of problem solving challenges, both nature-made and instructor contrived, in order to test one’s skills and knowledge.  One person’s response to any particular challenge is different from another’s.  As an instructor I get to observe and learn from the problem-solving of others.


Inter-meeting correspondence:  the WSIP course structure creates mentoring check-ins between class sessions.  I get to share in student’s questions, stories, and discoveries with their relationship with the ancient skills and the natural world.


The survival trip:  when the WSIP students come back from their time wild and free they enter the world with a different maturity.  To witness and participate in this true right of passage is always insightful.


One comparison summary of these two courses is: Core Skills 1 provides the map, and the WSIP takes you orienteering.  

By Nick Neddo