Home»Sports & Outdoor»Prepare for the Best: When it Comes to Survival, Go With Earth Gathering Skills

Prepare for the Best: When it Comes to Survival, Go With Earth Gathering Skills

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Rob Grobman of Heartisan Films

A 2016 disaster preparedness survey for the Earth Institute at Columbia University revealed that 65 percent of Americans aren’t prepared for natural disasters, and 41 percent aren’t confident their community has adequate plans in an unlikely event.

Essential resources or outdoor skill programs are not as hard to find as one may think. For its sixth year in a row, the Sharpening Stone will host an Earth Skills Gathering event to educate participants how to live off of the land. The event will take place May 16 through 21 in Rogue River.

Instructor Adam Larue describes the first Earth Skills Gathering as “magic. Since then, our event has grown each year, with a high rate of returning participants. Last year, we began offering an on-going youth wilderness program in Grants Pass and Williams. The program teaches youth how to interact with nature in a way that is fun and educational.”

Larue bought land in Sunny Valley in 2009 that the Sharpening Stone uses today for its nature programs. “I spent a lot of time cleaning up the land, fixing existing infrastructure, and creating more,” he says. “After I attended Saskatoon Circle gathering in Washington, my focus became clear: I decided I would host The Sharpening Stone for the first time. Our instructor pool began as a group of friends who were all passionate about earth skills. Over the years our pool has grown to include many instructors who are renowned nationwide for their skills.

Among those instructors is Geoffrey Fisher, who has spent most of his life educating children as a teacher and outdoor instructor. After serving time under outdoor and primitive skills leadership mentors, he began teaching earth skills in 2011. Instructor Richard Pashu Esquibel’s experience in outdoors skills is as vast as Fisher and Larue’s, specializing in survival skills. All three instructors attended Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School.

This year’s Earth Skills Gathering will include spoon carving, coal burning, soft fiber weaving, bird language, herbal medicine making, and several other outdoor skills. Participants will learn just about everything from porcupine quill work to bone tool making.

Larue adds, “Part of the magic of this type of gathering is that we don’t publish an exact schedule until the first day of the event. We do provide a list of the classes that have been taught in the past, which will closely resemble the classes available this year.” The main focus will be on building participants’ relationships with the outdoors. The goal is to not only learn new skills, but to connect to the earth on a level most participants haven’t before.

“We have created a culture that finds it acceptable to destroy the very web of life that the future generations depend on, in the name of having extreme luxury for our own lifetime,” he says. “I see this overindulgence as stealing the quality of life from the future generations in order to spoil our current children with luxury. We are every bit as dependent on nature being healthy and resilient as we have ever been, and if we destroy the web of life, we go down with it.”

The Sharpening Stone website suggests participants to bring camping gear, eating utensils, a camp chair, first aid kit, and a notebook. Breakfast and dinner are included, and each meal includes organic, mostly plant-based products.

“I think humans have the potential to live in a way that makes the web of life grow stronger,” says Larue. “The very act of feeding and clothing ourselves could be the same act that improves the overall strength and resilience of nature. There is a way, almost completely forgotten, that can build a sustainable future. That is why I have chosen this work. We are inspiring people to become caretakers instead of just takers.”


Earth Gathering Skills

May 16 – May 21




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