Primitive Skills

Primitive Skills Week


Program Start Date:


5 DAY COURSE – Come and learn from the experts! We’ll teach primitive skills like hide tanning, building friction fires, and cedar basket weaving.

(Summer Activity Level)

Primitive Skills Week

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Primitive Skills Week
Instructors: Multiple
August 22 at 10 a.m. – August 26 at 4 p.m.

Is it possible for humans to live in a way that actually ensures the health and well-being of the planet? How can we cultivate a resilient self-reliance that meets our daily needs in a sustainable way? Come join us at our Big Creek Outdoor Education Center to learn practical skills based on ancient knowledge. We will spend the week with experts learning, focusing on, and discussing skills that connect us all to a more primitive time.

Feb 24 – June 30: This course will be open to overnight registrants only.
July 1: We will open registration for individual days for the cost of $150 each.

Meeting Location: Big Creek Outdoor Education Center

Itinerary: Courses will be taught in a “clinic-style” throughout the day. Each clinic site will focus on a different skill each day.

Day 1 – Shelter Building

Our first day of Primitive Skills week will teach you the ins and outs of perhaps the most important skill for long-term wilderness survival – shelter building. Having a weather-proof shelter made from the materials found around you is crucial for avoiding the elements. You’ll learn the basics of shelter-building, which materials to utilize and why, as well as traditional methods from indigenous cultures found all over the world.

Day 2 – Plant Fibers

Learn the ancient ways of harvesting and utilizing plant fibers for crafting baskets, clothing, and other useful items. We will discuss the characteristics of each plant fiber and learn why they have been harvested for thousands of years.

Day 3 – Animal Fibers

Animals provide us with a bountiful supply of useful materials. We will teach the basics of primitive hide tanning, as well as discuss the differences in methods used all over the world. We will also teach the technique of harvesting sinew along with numerous ways to utilize this valuable animal fiber.

Day 4 – Fire by Friction

Fire has been utilized by humans for nearly one million years. Come learn the different methods of coercing fire from natural materials. We will discuss how to build your own fire kit and teach which woods make friction fires possible.

Day 5 – Identifying Native Plants

Survival skills center around the ability to recognize and identify the plants around you. Learn which plants are food, which plants are medicines, and which plants can make you sick. We will teach a simple method for accurately classifying plants into family groups.

Food: Lunch and dinner provided for all guests each day. Breakfasts will be for overnight guests only.

Equipment: Day Class Attendees – please bring your own water bottle (1-2 liter), daypack, appropriate layers, hat, and rain gear. Overnight Registrants – please bring all of the above, as well as a headlamp, toiletries (bathrooms and showers on-site), etc. Big Creek is an off-the-grid site, so amenities will be available sparingly. Group bunkhouses are on-site and will be divided by gender.

Physical Requirements: The Big Creek Outdoor Education Center occupies a little under 10 acres of the Flathead National Forest. Physical requirements each day will be somewhat minimal, with some courses staying in one location, while others might require some searching/foraging on-site.


Additional information

Refund Policy

The Glacier Institute has a 24 hour cancellation policy for a full refund with all of our courses.

Did you know Glacier Institute members receive a 10% discount?