Jack Mountain Bushcraft Folk School | Traditional Outdoor Skills, Crafts & Guiding

In 2020 we sold our place in New Hampshire. Gone with it is the folk school.

We help people become more skilled, more knowledgeable, more experienced and more confident outdoors by using traditional skills, a few simple tools and field-based experience. Whether you’re looking to go from city slicker to competent outdoor professional, want to experience a remote expedition, or just want to learn a few new outdoor skills, we’ve got you covered.

The Jack Mountain Bushcraft Folk School offers programs in outdoor skills, ecology and nature lore, crafting and building traditional outdoor gear, sustainability and other skills for a simple, handmade life. Unlike our field school programs, camping is not a required part of the experience..

Programs are focused on remembering our connection with the natural world. We use the term remember in two ways. First, it is to recall something that has been forgotten. Second, it is the opposite of dismember – building a connection to a part of the human experience that has been severed. Our goal is to empower people to be more confident, competent and at home in the natural world.

We offer two types of programs at the folk school: courses and lodge-based programs. Regular courses do not include lodging. For a list of regular courses, scroll down. Lodge-based programs include housing and are multiple days in length. For more information on lodge-based programs, click here.

We also offer numerous outings, which we define as short trips that are close to home. For more on these, visit the Outings page on our Classic Wilderness Guiding site.

We’re in the midst of a big web site overhaul, so if things look a little off that’s why.

Tim Smith, M.Ed. Founder & Registered Master Maine Guide


JMB Folk School Courses

· Art & Science Of Fire
· JMBS Axemanship Course
· The Saw
· Cordage, Rope & Knots
· Navigation
· Knife Skills & Sharpening
· Shelter Simplified


· Wilderness Survival Simplified
· Winter Survival In The North Woods
· Summer Survival


· Trees In Winter
· Common Plants & Their Uses
· Stars & The Night Sky
· Becoming Weather Wise
· Mammals & Their Tracks
· Fish For Fishermen
· Winter Ecology


· Camp Crafts
· Pack Baskets
· Half-Round Baskets
· Make Your Own Bow
· Projectiles For Fun
· Making The JMBS Paddle
· Bucksaws
· Fish Nets & Hammocks
· Mocotaugan: Knifemaking Simplified
· Brain Tan Buckskin

· Paddling Clinic
· Safety & Rescue
· Intro To Poling
· Poling In Whitewater


· Intro To Snowshoeing
· DIY Snowshoes
· DIY Snowshoe Moccasins
· Toboggans & Sleds
· Intro To Hot Tent Camping

Sea Kayaking

· Intro To Sea Kayaking
· Safety & Rescue


· Fly Casting
· Fly Fishing
· Spin Fishing
· Ice Fishing
· Spear Fishing

· Campfire Cooking
· Dutch Oven Cooking
· Reflector Oven Baking
· Primitive Cooking
· Thermal Cooking
· Sourdough Workshop
· Home Winemaking


· Skill-Building Workshops For Working Guides
· Navigation Refresher
· Liability Insurance Basics


· The Resilient Home & Homestead
· Humanure Composting
· DIY Rocket Stove For Cooking
· Intro To Solar Power
· Perennial Vegetables You Should Grow


· Starting An Outdoor Business
· Intro To Web Design
· Marketing In The Real World

JMB Folk School Lodge-Based Programs

The 7 Elements Of Jack Mountain Bushcraft School Programs

Drawing on the philosophies of bushcraft we’ve developed over two decades of field courses, the traditions of Maine Guides that go back generations, the Cree concept of miyupimaatisiium (translated as “being alive well”) and the Scandinavian idea of friluftsliv (translated as “open air life”), the following seven elements comprise the components of our semester and yearlong programs.

1. Skill – Learn by doing. Too much of modern education is theoretical, abstract and sedentary, where the head is engaged but the hands are not. We depart from that norm with a tangible, hands-on approach that emphasizes being an active participant in the natural world and in life.

2. Journey – Travel through remote parts of the north woods alongside professional guides, directly experiencing what you’re learning. Live in the bush for extended lengths of time where the focus isn’t simply how-to, but living with efficiency and grace that come with extensive experience.

3. Craft – Explore the world with your hands. Build useful items from materials gathered on the landscape. Man needs tools to live. Making these necessary items from materials gathered from the landscape bonds you to the land and makes you self-reliant.

4. Nature – Learn the language of the world around you. Study the weather, edible/medicinal plants, fungi, mammals and their tracks, birds, fish, mollusks, insects, amphibians, reptiles, rocks, minerals, soil, water, ice, celestial bodies and ecology.

5. Culture – Culture is the human element, or soft skills, which make or break an expedition. Learn management and leadership skills crucial to the professional guide and outdoor leader, as well as how to instruct effectively.

6. Sustainability – Life is different with minimal infrastructure. Learn the techniques of living a simple, low-tech life with minimal inputs by living them every day. Compost everything that will rot, grow food, reuse and repurpose resources, care for the land and leave it healthier for future generations.

7. Self – Learn your specific needs and boundaries. In a world of generalizations, it’s important to know exactly what you need to function well. How much sleep do you need to function? How much water? How much of a bed do you need to make in order to sleep well? This is about intimately knowing yourself and what you need to do to keep your body alive and well. The only way to learn it is to live it.

Our educational philosophy summed up in a single word: Can.

Knowledge is power, but knowledge is constructed, not received. It is built incrementally, over time. If teaching were simply telling, then anyone who excelled in a field would be an effective teacher of it. But this transmission model of teaching isn’t effective for most learners. Standing in front of someone and telling them what they need to know isn’t facilitating learning. Especially when you consider the differences between visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles. We subscribe to the learning model of teaching, where the role of the teacher is to create situations where learning takes place. Students build upon their knowledge daily, and by the end of the experience they’ve accumulated a storehouse of information and experiences. But the instructor must also make it relevant. It’s easy to scoff at friction fire since matches and lighters are so readily available. But remove them from the equation and it’s instantly relevant, and the desire to learn the subtleties of the hand drill takes on renewed importance. Our students are actively learning, immersing themselves in the curriculum by necessity. An example of this is how we teach shelter building. You can learn something about a shelter by making one. You can learn more about it by sleeping in it. But to truly know that specific shelter, you need to spend four consecutive nights in it. In this way you’re forced to deal with the consequences of shoddy construction or not paying attention to details. Maybe the first night is rough, but it teaches you what you need to do before the second night in order to shore it up and get some sleep. The second night is spent learning some of the subtleties that would make it more comfortable. The third night is fine-tuning it to your specifications, and the fourth night is enjoying the fruits of your labor. If you were to build the same shelter again, you could eliminate the learning curve because you’d know what to do from the outset. That’s experiential education.

“Experiential education is the process of actively engaging students in an authentic experience that will have benefits and consequences. Students make discoveries and experiment with knowledge themselves instead of hearing or reading about the experiences of others. Students also reflect on their experiences, thus developing new skills, new attitudes, and new theories or ways of thinking.”  (Kraft & Sakofs, 1988)

We live in the day of the internet expert. Where people have seen tv shows about every imaginable topic, and they know the buzzwords. Nowhere is this more true than with bushcraft and survival. But as people have gotten to know the terminology better over the 25 years we have been running programs, they are generally less experienced than at any time in the past. So keep in mind that having done is more valuable than knowing how. An ounce of experience is worth 100 truckloads of theory.

In addition to passing on traditional skills, we focus on using them to foster critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, curiosity, and a concern with ethical issues.

JMB Blog & Media Hub
Home to our blog, videos, podcast and photos, going back to 2006.

JMBS Calendar
All of our upcoming events.

Typos, Etc.
Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device demonstrating prodigious artistic prowess.

Email List
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Featured In:
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Community Network & Online Learning Academy
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Western Colorado University
Academic Partner

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Maine Wilderness Guides Organization Quality Endorsement Award

Life Member – Maine Professional Guides Association
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Life Member – Maine Wilderness Guides Organization
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