"In high-school the teachers were always telling us that we had to study hard so that we could find good-paying careers as adults. I found it irritating that they would paint such a dismal picture of the future. I did not realize at the time that most of my classmates considered it normal. I had a lot of Dreams in life, and the idea of getting a job and working for the next forty years just scared the heck out of me. Thus I was highly motivated to find a no-job path to success."
--Thomas J. Elpel
Building a House on Limited Means
Green University® LLC Campus
Live, Work, and Play in Montana!
River Camp - Cardwell, Montana
Green University® LLC is pleased to announce the acquisition of our new twenty-one acre "River Camp" as the primary campus for our growing internship program. Located on the Jefferson River in southwest Montana, this riverfront property is amazingly diverse, with a trout pond, a backwater slough, willow thickets, open fields, and abundant wildlife. Participants can expect to encounter deer, moose, beaver, raccoons, and any other wildlife while out stalking or doing a sit spot. Even bears and wolves have been seen along the Jefferson River!
After years of searching, we identified this property as the ideal site for Green University® LLC due to its centralized location and low elevation. Located in the heart of the Jefferson Valley at 4,300 feet in elevation, River Camp is warmer and drier than the surrounding mountain properties, greatly facilitating activities all year long. This is an excellent school campus for developing proficiency at hunter-gatherer and wilderness survival skills.
Winter snows are infrequent and quickly melt away, enabling outdoor activities in regular clothes and shoes even in the middle of winter. Moreover, the property is effectively bigger than its boundaries, with the buffer of a semi-wild fishing access site along one side and the sandbars of the river expanding another side. The combined area includes at least 45 acres of prime habitat to explore, learn, and play. We are also surrounded by range after range of beautiful mountains and hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands to go exploring and camping--which is one thing we like to do a lot of!
In addition, the Jefferson River is part of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, and with riverfront access, it is easy to launch a canoe in the water and paddle up the slough or down the river.
River Camp has electricity and water on site, as well as an eighteen-foot felted wool Mongolian yurt for initial accommodations. A small shed and barn provide additional storage and working space, and we have built three wickiups and a grass hut. We also plan to build a modernized Mandan-style earthlodge for use as an all-weather, all-season classroom. It is our goal, however, to maintain the property in as much as an undeveloped state as possible. We purchased this property in part to prevent it from being developed into a home site, and we intend to eventually place an easement on it, dedicating the land in perpetuity as an outdoor education center, to preserve the integrity of the riverfront long after we are gone.
Our campus is located halfway between the communities of Cardwell and Whitehall, Montana, offering easy access to town amenities, including gas, groceries, a library and internet access, hardware store, restaurants, and even a $4 per-ticket movie theater. The site has great cell phone coverage, and with the right hardware, you can even do internet on the property. It is, however, primarily intended as an outdoor skills camp, and we plan to keep it as primitive as possible in the years to come. Fitting within that context, we do plan to permaculture the property. We planted our first one hundred trees on the property in 2013, and we anticipate planting that many more every year.
At present, we are shuttling people up to Tom's house in Pony (seen at the top of this page), twenty-five miles away, for showers. His passive solar stone and log home and five-acre property was the original home for the internship program, and many people have come to stay there over the years. In 2012 Green University® LLC participants built a small castle guest house on the property, using mostly recycled materials. Many of our activities are based out of Pony. When working or visiting the home base, interns camp in the castle, in tents, or in the house.
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It's been such an adventure getting to know you and your family, creativity runs thick in the Elpel blood. Looking forward to working more with you in the future and of course the plant walk. I've been really enjoying your foraging book.
I can't thank you enough for the knowledge. Never have I had a more patient and humble teacher. That in itself was an invaluable lesson. I also appreciate your way of communication, most people talk a lot and say little, however, I learned you speak volumes with great efficiency. This makes listening much more enjoyable for those who hear every word. These thoughts needed to be expressed and they come out so much better written than said.