Wild Nutrition

Living in the wilderness for 11 months offers many rewards. But as with many things worth having, it takes some work and dedication to reap the benefits of living wild. Those who enter the Wilderness Guide Program are asked to prepare in advance by weaning themselves off of caffeine, starch, sugars, and processed foods. This helps them avoid having to acclimate to living in the wild while going through withdrawal from sugar or other substances, which is not a pleasant experience. By the time the seekers arrive at Teaching Drum, they are expected to have fully embraced a Paleo based diet. The following post was written by Sunny Fox regarding his experience with this new diet and way of living.

Back in Germany, I always thought that I was a very healthy person. I never broke a bone and only became sick maybe 2-3 times in a year. Living immersed in the forest has taught me some surprising things about my health. I knew that participating in the Wilderness Guide Program would include a diet without sugar, milk, and almost no starch, so I was very worried that my body would lose too much energy and that I would get sick or have other problems.

It’s been over a few months since the start of the program and I feel even healthier than before. My skin has cleared, my digestion is better than before, and my sleep is more restful. My energy level is completely different. I no longer feel like a “civilized zombie” who needs to keep myself alive and awake by giving my body sugar, starch, or one caffeine shock after another. Now, whenever I’m working on a project, I have all this energy and I can complete my tasks without any problem.

 

New Names Under a New Sun

After the Seekers finished their week-long trial on May 10, they made the 5-hour trek from Mashkodens (Ojibwe for Little Prairie), to Nishnajida (Ojibwe for Camp Where the Old Ways Return), which is located deep in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. They carried everything they will use while living immersed in the wilds on pack frames that were crafted from sturdy forked branches found in the nearby forest.

Gear includes a tent, sleeping bag, matches, tomahawk, knife, a bowl for eating, as well as three changes of clothing and personal care items. Matches will eventually be replaced by a wooden friction fire making kit, their bowls will be exchanged with those they learn to make by burning out a split section of a log, and they will abandon their tents for wigwams they build from the saplings, bark, and roots gathered from the surrounding woods.

To help the Seekers stay grounded in the present moment, common words for time, distance and direction have been replaced with terms that reflect their immediate environment. For example, time is now measured by how long it takes to cook an egg on the fire or paddle across the lake. A year is now a full turn of the seasons, a day is a sun, a yard could be an arm’s length, and the left side may be called the heart side. This blog will be using these terms as well. To prevent reader confusion, we created a handy page for your reference. You can visit the Glossary of Terms page here.

Before arriving, the Seekers are encouraged to come to this experience as an empty bowl, with curiosity, so they can embrace all the teachings and gifts the forest has to offer. To immerse oneself in the wild with new people and new experiences is a gift, one that offers them an opportunity to let go of the labels and assumptions they’ve been carrying. It is in this space that the Seekers will have an opportunity to see themselves differently, to uncover the gifts and talents that have always been part of them, waiting to be discovered.

To fully embrace this path of discovery, the Seekers drop their given names and receive another from their clan mates, a name that represents a new beginning and a fresh perspective regarding who they currently are within the clan. These names often include physical characteristics or personality traits and strengths. As they get to know themselves and one other better, these names will likely change to reflect their evolving role within their circle.

 

We would like to invite you to accompany Blooming Flower, Sky Lilly, Sunny Fox, Silent Wolf, and Woodpecker on their adventures in the wild as they grow in the ways of honor, respect, and Balance with the Elder Relations (furred, leafed, winged…) of the Northern Woodlands.

 

Living Wild: 6 New Participants begin their Nature Immersion Experience

The 2017/18 Wilderness Guide Program (WGP) began May 1st with 6 participants (Seekers) arriving for their trial week. Acceptance into the WGP is a carefully deliberated process. To be accepted, both the Seeker and the wilderness guides must agree that the program would be a good fit for them. To help determine this, those who are considering participating must live fully immersed in an ongoing program for seven full days (a trial week), in order to determine whether the experience is for them. However, given the expense, especially for those who are coming from overseas, not everyone is able to do this.

This particular year, all 6 Seekers still needed to complete their trial week. After they were fitted for gear, they walked out to a transitional wilderness camp for their one-week trial where they were also introduced to functional tarp shelter set-up, pack-frame remodeling, wilderness first aid, tool safety, lost proofing, weather forecasting, wilderness hygiene, and fire tending.

We are happy to announce that all 6 of the Seekers successfully completed their trial week and are now officially enrolled in Unit One of the program, which lasts until October 15th. Successful completion of Unit One qualifies them to participate in Unit Two, the second half of the Wilderness Guide Program.

Five days ago, full of curiosity, excitement, and energy, they set off on the morning-long trek to their remote green season camp. They are poised to learn from the Ancient Voices of the Elder Trees, Rocks, Furred, Feathered, Finned, and all in the great Circle of Life, who have lived in balance for time immemorial.

 

Stay tuned to hear stories of their adventures in the wild!