"The Machine is everything you have ever known and everything you have ever been told. The Machine is the unconscious collective sum of humanity. It assimilates everything in its path, turning meadows and wildlands into subdivisions and shopping malls. The Machine sucks the life out of children, making them into automatons that work without meaning and consume without purpose."
At Green University® LLC we recognize four distinct levels of experience. Begin as a Hunter-Gatherer, and break free from the Machine to walk your own path. Learn to skin a deer and make your own buckskin clothing. Learn how to travel, camp, and forage in the wilderness of rural and urban landscapes, exploring and living beyond the artificial boundaries of civilization. Experience self-sufficiency on a model scale as you learn to meet your survival needs with little more than your bare hands.
Hunter-Gatherer skills are the heart of the Green University® LLC program. It is about regaining lost freedoms. Rediscover the world of our ancestors, who could often roam hundreds of miles in any direction without encountering artificial boundaries. Real estate was functionally free and mortgage payments nonexistent. A house could be quickly erected from sticks and bark, and paying a utility bill meant gathering free firewood. Meat and vegetables were available for the harvesting, and there were few, if any taxes.
The path of the Hunter-Gatherer is essentially about constructively rebelling against the Machine and walking away from the rules of civilization to reclaim one's independence. Rather than being reduced to working for wages at some fast food joint in exchange for the right to purchase mass-produced clothing and groceries from some big box store, the Hunter-Gatherer path empowers the individual to become self-sufficient.
Join us in the fall and Paddle Back in Time on the Jefferson River to get your feet wet with basic wilderness survival skills such as bow and drill fire-starting, cordage-making, grass ropes, canoeing, and camping. Through our Deer Processing Intensive and Fall Harvest Celebration, learn how to skin and butcher deer, tan hides, and make fashionable clothing to wear uptown, downtown, or out of town. Learn how to provide for yourself, from eating wild plants to foraging fruit from feral trees, and scavenging leftovers from the industrial waste stream. Learn the fundamentals of botany and how to recognize the potential properties and uses of a new plant long before you know its precise identification. Learn to use your hands to craft and create tools, equipment, containers, and hunting weapons. Acquire the skills to think and innovate for yourself.
Follow your passions and develop your primitive wilderness survival skills among a tribe of like-minded individuals. Learn to start fire-by-friction, harvest and process wild foods, and weave willow baskets. Help out as an assistant instructor, sharing survival and nature awareness skills with kids from our local public schools.
Every year is different, based in part, on the interests that students bring to the school. Whatever your interests are, we will coach you to the best of our abilities or steer you towards the resources you need.
In Depth: A Year of Hunter-Gatherer Training
How far do you want to go? It's one thing to take a class and learn a skill. It is quite another to spend an entire year refining your skills as a hunter-gatherer. Systematically build a survival kit of physical skills and know-how for Stone Age living. Immerse yourself in the primitive lifeway, living and working in wickiups, grass huts, and the earthlodge. Become an expert at skinning deer, processing the meat and hides and making jerky. Next, learn how to tan skins in the traditional way, using brains to soften the hides.
This isn't just an academic exercise. Here at Green University® LLC, you have the opportunity to tan enough hides to make an entire head-to-toe buckskin outfit. Learn expert sewing techniques to make clothing that is both functional for wilderness wear and fully fashionable to wear to town. Spend the winter engaged in crafting and practicing hands-on skills, such as bow and drill or handdrill fire-starting. We may even take a break from G.U. to go on a winter walkabout with friends, family members, and students. It is a great opportunity to test out your skills and hand-tailored buckskin clothing.
Take your skills to a whole new level with the coming springtime and the greening of the world. Join the celebration as the grass turns green and the leaves pop out on the trees. Learn how to mentor young people in the outdoors as we host field trips and camping trips for the local school kids. From foraging for wild plants and mushrooms, to cooking, crafting, making weapons, and playing games, you will learn a ton on this fun-filled adventure!
After the school programs, we may take a break from G.U. to do a canoe trip with friends and family on Montana's Canyon Ferry Reservoir to go carp hunting with bows and arrows. This is a great opportunity to test all of your hunter-gatherer skills! A Montana fishing license is required if you wish to participate.
Summer is play time in Montana when the snow melts out of the mountains and wildflowers explode with color in every meadow. Summer is a great time of year to forage for wild foods, practice skills, and get out in the mountains. Practice your skills on campus, or take off on an adventure of your own making.
Recommended Reading: To get the most out of the Hunter-Gatherer experience, be sure to familiarize yourself with Tom's plant identification and wilderness survival books and videos:
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.
Looking for life-changing resources? Check out these books by Thomas J. Elpel: