Art And Science Of Fire

Course Info
· Max. Size: 8
· Length: 1-Day
· Tuition: $150
· Where: Wolfeboro, NH

Advanced Fire Skills For The North Woods

Course Calendar     Register Now

“When conditions are right, a child can ignite almost any combination of tinder and kindling, but when the chips are down – and wet – this romantic gibberish has a hollow ring and a penchant for failure.” – Bill Riviere, Backcountry Camping

Fire is elemental. It is what allowed our species to spread out across the temperate regions in the mists of prehistory. It continues to push us forward, but has become an industrial process and much of the lore has been lost.

For the person in the forest, fire dries our gear, heats our shelters, sanitizes our water and cooks our food. For the solo traveler it it a fine companion. For the person in a cabin, watching it is the nightly entertainment. I’ve spent countless nights off the grid in the Guide Shack watching the fire through the window of the wood stove, with the cheery light coming through, at the strength of twenty candles, warming my body and soul.

If you have questioned your ability to make a fire at any time under any weather conditions, this one-day class is for you. We spend the entire day learning and practicing practical fire skills.

On our expedition programs we don’t carry a backup stove. If we can’t make a fire, we don’t eat and we can’t sanitize water. But we’ve always been able to make a fire.

We do things differently and a lot more in-depth than what is common in bushcraft circles. These are the same skills we teach in our 9-week Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. Conspicuously absent are all the different firelays you see illustrated in books with bad line drawings. These are the gibberish Bill Riviere refers to in the quotation at the top of the page. You’ll learn the one firelay we use. As 2011 semester student from Denmark, at the end of our yearlong immersion program, put it, “people who write books have dozens of firelays, but people who actually live out in the forest seem to have only one.”

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completing of the course, students should understand:

  • Science: Mechanisms of energy transfer
  • 5 stages of every fire
  • Optimal fuel spacing for small and large fires
  • Tinder bundle construction
  • Coal extenders: finding and using them
  • Modern and primitive ignition strategies, including both flame and ember
  • Twig bundle and feather sticks use: when and why you choose each
  • The one firelay to rule them all
  • How to burn poor quality fuel
  • Wet weather fire considerations
  • What you should always carry with you in the woods
  • Survival considerations for spending the night out
  • How to make a great pot of coffee


Participants will need their own sheath knife. We recommend the Mora Classic #2 from Ben’s Backwoods. For information on choosing a knife check out this blog post and video.

Who this course is for: This course is appropriate for adults and mature teens. It is not open to those younger than 16 years of age. Previous experience using an axe is desirable, but not required.
When: Course runs from 9 am to 4 pm, with a break for lunch. Bring a lunch.
Where: The Jack Mountain Bushcraft Folk School. 267 Camp School Road in Wolfeboro.
What to bring: Knife with a sturdy sheath, axe if you’ve got one, seasonally appropriate clothes, notebook and pen, lunch. Also bring any fire kit you’ve got, including match cases, lighters, ferro rods, bow drill kits, etc. If you don’t have any, no big deal. If the snow is deep you’ll need snowshoes. If you don’t have a pair, we have some for rent ($10).

JMBS Master Calendar
All scheduled programs.
· JMBS Master Calendar
JMBS Sites
· Field School – Professional Training, Semester & Expedition Programs. Masardis, Maine.
· Classic Wilderness Guiding – Canoe, Snowshoe & Sea Kayak Trips
· Folk School – Lodge-Based & Weekend Programs. Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
· School Of The Forest – Teen & Youth Programs
· JMB Web Portal – Guide To All Our Programs & Sites
Private Community Network & Online Courses. Free to join.
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.

JMB Blog & Media Hub
Home to our blog, videos, podcast, photos and updates, going back to 2006.
· JMB Media
Email List
Join our email list and keep up with what we’re doing. More Info.

Featured In:
Jack Mountain Bushcraft Media Appearances Image

Life Member – MPGA
mpga graphic
Life Member – MWGO
mwgo graphic

MWGO Quality Endorsement

Academic Partner – UMPI
UMPI graphic
Academic Partner – WSCU
WSCU graphic