Our Wild Living program is a three-part series of weekend classes designed to help anyone interested in backpacking and spending more time in wild places gain the knowledge and skills to make that a reality. Based out of the Spruce Knob Mountain Center these classes are appropriate for beginners and more experienced adventurers as our expert instructors take you on a deep dive into gear, techniques, navigation, foraging, and so much more.
Join us for one, two, or all three parts of this series exploring the finer points of backpacking and wild living techniques. Each of these weekend excursions will expose you to the backcountry at differing levels. Enjoy the safe space of the wild and open outdoors to build bonds with other like-minded individuals in this shared wilderness experience.
No prerequisite is required to attend any of these weekends. Camping gear will also be available for rental for participants. All cooking stoves will be provided; however, participants will also be able to bring their own if they choose.
- June – We will focus on learning the ins and outs of our gear. We will be testing different backpacks, stoves, water filters, and so much more, as well as learning different cooking styles while base-camping and hiking.
- August – This session is focused on wilderness skills, navigation, wild edibles, and sensory awareness activities while trekking through the forest.
- September: We will take a three-day, two-night backpacking expedition across the Seneca Creek Backcountry to apply lessons from the first two sessions.
- Pre-Trip Meetings: Before each weekend our instructors will be engaging with participants in different ways to ready them for their adventure.
+ Unplug from the rest of the world
+ Experience Spruce Knob and the Seneca Creek Backcountry
+ Coolest summer weather around
+ Multi-day, self-supported backpacking expedition
+ No experience necessary but you should be able to hike 4-5 miles at a time
What’s included: Professional guidance and instruction, all meals, permit and use fees, shuttle services, test gear and group supplies. Certified Wilderness First Responder on trip.
Back to Basics
June 11-13, 2021
In the first installment of the Wild Living series we will get back to basics and take a closer look at each piece gear that is important to every camping trip while base camping in the Monongahela National Forest. You will learn skills like how to best pack a backpack, how to work with different types of camping stoves, understand and practice sustainable self-care in the backcountry, and unplug from your daily routine.
- Backpack Skills – How to choose, pack, and adjust a backpack
- Backcountry Cooking – Learn new ways of cooking while testing out different stoves and cooking strategies
- Campcraft – What makes a great tent site, how to set up a tent, organize camp, and troubleshoot common problems
- Leave No Trace (LNT) – Master the art of learning how to minimize our impacts in a wilderness setting
- Self-Care – We learn how to be more in tune with our bodies and learn to listen to what our muscles are telling us
- Navigation Basics – Reading the intricacies of topographic maps and understanding how to read the landscape around us
We will begin the weekend with a hike to a base camp site. From there, the group will use their new-found navigation skills to reach each day’s destination by working together. As we move through the forest we will work on wilderness survival skills, sensory awareness skills, and notice what wild edibles surround us. We will also touch on backpacking skills and what ultra-light means.
- Navigation – Deepen your navigation skills by learning to use a topographic map and compass. We will then bring these two skills together to navigate off-trail.
- Wilderness Skills – Fire building and debris shelter building. Find kindling and start a fire even if it’s an impossibly wet Appalachian day.
- Water Treatment – Explore different ways to make water safe for drinking
- Backcountry Bathrooms – Learn how to “take care of business” in the woods
- Sensory Awareness Activities – Explore each one of the five senses in different ways
- Wild Edibles – Build your confidence and competence in identifying, gathering, and eating wild edibles
Welcome to your backpacking adventure! Together we will backpack across the Seneca Creek Backcountry where we will encounter all the stunning views, high elevation balds, diverse ecosystems, wild backcountry streams, and cascading waterfalls while the terrain pushes and teaches us.
This is where our summer of instruction and practice is put to the test in a self-supported, three-day expedition. Expect to finish this session with the competence and confidence to plan and take on your next expedition, long trail hike, or guide your family to a successful outdoor experience.
- Packing Skills – Learn to pack the perfect backpack. Our expert instructors will field a pack shakedown with each participant
- Navigation – We will put those navigation skills to use
- Backcountry Skills – Learn and practice our new skills in a backcountry setting
- Camp Craft – Hone your camping and LNT skills
- Leadership Skills – Refine your leadership skills with guidance from our experienced instructors
Dates & Rates
Session 1: June 11-13, 2021
Session 2: August 20-22, 2021 – short program
Session 3: September 17-19, 2021 – all girls/all boys
$350/session or $900 for all three
Arrival, Friday, September 17, location TBA
Departure, Sunday September 19, Spruce Knob Mountain Center
What Folks are Saying:
The staff were terrific helping us coordinate what camp would fit us best. So patient and understanding. My daughter had a wonderful week and learned so much and made memories and friends. Great experience! – Kristin Potts
I learned about who I am as a person and that if I look within myself I can find some of the strength and courage that I’ve felt was missing from me. – Summer Camper, Leadership Camp
In this program I was able to be my own leader, which has allowed me to see the ways in which I can improve myself and the ways in which I am strong. – Summer Camper, Leadership Camp
The mountain stewards camp is a wonderful, fun, confidence and skill building experience every kid should go through! – Sandy Frank
I learned so many interesting facts about the world around us that I will definitely take with me, but I also learned how wonderful it can be to be a part of a group in which everyone gives their all and wants to have a great time no matter the challenging situations or the rainy days. – camp participant
I learned to trust myself more and not be afraid to advocate for myself. – Summer Camper, Leadership Camp
I love the freedom at this camp. It doesn’t feel like a structured camp with strict rules. We are free to have fun and learn in our own ways while still effectively accomplishing the goals of the program. – camper
Mountain Stewards at Experience Learning is a fantastic week-long summer camp for kids who like the outdoors (or who WILL like the outdoors after this wonderful experience!) Stewardship of our natural resources, self-reliance, leadership, and fellowship, are all integral to this program. My daughter LOVES this camp, and that makes me a happy dad. Experience Learning also has great programs for learners of all ages. I recently completed an excellent Wilderness First Aid course at their wonderful Spruce Knob Mountain Center. Check it out! – Mark Wenzler