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Green University® LLC Presents...
A Lewis and Clark Experience

Ol' Red the dugout canoe.

Dugout Canoe Magic
with Churchill Clark and the staff of Green University, LLC
River Camp: Cardwell, Montana. March 21 - May 31, 2018

Adze for carving a dugout canoe.

      How would you like to carve a tree into a canoe and paddle it down the river? Now you can! Join Churchill Clark, great-great-great-great grandson of Captain William Clark for this immersive Lewis and Clark experience. Just like the crew of the Corps of Discovery, we'll start with a big, raw tree and chop, chop, chop our way through the layers to create a functional and beautiful dugout canoe.

Portaging the Great Falls of the Missouri - Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center dugout canoe.       The 1804 - 1806 journey of journey of Lewis and Clark helped map the Louisiana Purchase and shaped the destiny of our country. The expedition ascended the lower Missouri in 1804 with a large keelboat and smaller wooden pirogues and overwintered with the Mandan Indians in present-day North Dakota. The keelboat, too large to continue up the Missouri, was sent back downstream in the spring of 1805 with a partial crew, plus journals, stories, and samples of regional flora and fauna for scientific study. Lewis and Clark continued upstream with the pirogues, plus six freshly made dugout canoes carved from cottonwood trees.

      At the Great Falls of the Missouri, the expedition abandoned the larger pirogue and endured a month of backbreaking labor to portage their dugout canoes eighteen miles overland around the falls, as pictured here in a life-size exhibit at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls, Montana.

Paddling a dugout canoe.       They made two more dugout canoes above the falls to replace the pirogue. The expedition reached the Missouri headwaters at the end of July and ascended the Jefferson River in early August, traveling as far upstream as possible with the canoes, before swamping the canoes to hide them underwater. The expedition traded with the Shoshone people for horses to cross the Rocky Mountains. On the Idaho side they carved yet more dugout canoes, this time from ponderosa pine, to follow the Columbia down out to the Pacific Ocean. In the spring of 1806, they turned around and headed back home, picking up their stashed canoes on the way back down the Missouri.

      For this class, we'll be camped on the banks of the Jefferson River at River Camp, on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Construction of the dugout canoe will be directed by Churchill Clark, with the majority of the physical labor provided by Green University students and staff. Immerse in the Lewis and Clark experience through stories, lore, and the hands-on effort to magically transform a tree into a canoe. Afterwards, we'll test out the canoe in the pond and in the river, following the path of Lewis and Clark. We are considering possibly paddling the canoe all the way to St. Louis in 2019. Anyone who joins Dugout Canoe Magic will be offered the opportunity to come paddle the finished canoe for a stretch of the journey.

Churchill Clark.       Dugout Canoe Magic runs concurrently through other classes and events at River Camp, including Traditional Living and Survival Skills, Bison Tanning, and the Outdoor Education and Basic Skills Intensive. Anyone participating in these events will have the opportunity to join the Dugout Canoe Magic in their spare time. The general publc is also invited to stop by to see the project and take turns chopping away at the tree.

About the Instructor: Churchill Clark walked away from conventional life to tour the country as a re-enactor with the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial in 2004 through 2006. He has stayed on the trail ever since, transforming trees into canoes while sharing the magic of dugout canoe love. He has handcrafted dugout canoes all over the country. In 2015 Clark paddled one of his creations down the Missouri all the way to St. Louis. We are privileged to have him come join us at Green University! Read more about Churchill Clark and his canoes at

Fallen cottonwood tree for carving a dugout canoe.

Interested in more classes and events?
See our full schedule!

Looking for an extended immersion experience at a discount price?
Join us for a six-month semester or a full year!

authored by
Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
to Reality
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids

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