Getting Back to the Basics with Ancestral Knowledge and Learning Survival Skills
As an adult and a parent it is not often that I find myself with an opportunity to push myself far outside of my comfort zone. When a dear friend invited me to attend the Mid Atlantic Primitive Skills (MAPS) gathering, I had some serious second thoughts, but I knew it would be an ideal way to show my daughter that it is okay to try new things and okay to be nervous about it. Throughout the 4 day long gathering we stepped back in time—to create containers and baskets from bark, sew pouches from deer hide, create fire, and carve spoons. We had the privilege to learn from renowned instructors in primitive arts, hunting and tracking, medicine making, primitive weaponry, as well as master naturalists and shamanic healers. My daughter and I had never attended an event like this before, and I had no idea what to expect, but what an empowering weekend it turned out to be.
While my daughter explored the rolling forests and clear streams in Harpers Ferry, WV with her early childhood class, I had the opportunity to sign up for a variety of primitive skills courses, such as birch bark basket weaving, making bamboo containers, spinning twine from plant fibers, carving soapstone pendants, and, lastly, creating fire using a bow drill. Evenings were spent enjoy acoustic music and storytelling around the campfire. It was both therapeutic and liberating to spend a weekend unplugged and unattached to my phone, iPad and television.
Families set up camp in a clearing, allowing children to mingle and play throughout the day. Many children practiced fire-building techniques and spent their free time whittling sticks and hunting for snakes and insects. In the age of technology, it was a privilege to work alongside craftsmen to learn long-forgotten and rarely used skills. My daughter spent a morning with her new friends extracting pigment from stones and then painting each other’s arms and faces. While I may not be ready to carve my own bow and hunt a deer for dinner, the gathering gave me the self confidence that even though I am quickly approaching middle-age, I am still able to learn new skills and at the same time take a moment to pay homage to those distant ancestors who blazed the path to my life of convenience.
Ancestral Knowledge, the non-profit that hosts the annual MAPS gathering, offers an array of adult classes, homeschool classes and camps throughout the DMV and West Virginia area. The instructors are eager to share their passions and are invested in their students’ successes. Whether your interests lie in primitive pottery, tanning hide, survival skills or just becoming more aware and living more closely with nature, Ancestral Knowledge has an instructor for you. For more information about all that Ancestral Knowledge has to offer visit their website or Facebook page for the upcoming events.
For the first time, I pitched our tent completely by myself. I started a fire. More importantly, I showed my daughter that she and I both could overcome our nerves, step outside of our comfort zone, and accomplish anything we set our minds to. While primitive living may not be your cup of tea, I encourage you to allow your children to see you challenging yourself and learning new skills—even stumbling a few times before you grasp it well. You may even surprise yourself and find that you or your children have discovered a hidden talent! As for myself, I cannot wait to attend the MAPS gathering in 2018 and try my hand at some archery and crafting gourd bowls!
This post was written by Moms with Tots Contributor, Piper S.