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September to May each Year

When? 2023-24 School Year. One Weekend per Month, September-May. 3 weekends will be Saturday & Sunday, 9am-4pm each day, 4 weekends will be Saturday only 9-4, and there will be 2 Saturday 9am- Sunday ~1pm overnight trips: one in October, one in May. See 2023-24's schedule below.
Where? Parks and Public Lands in Bend, Oregon. See our Locations page for more info.
Who? Teens age 13-15 interested camping, wildcrafting, community, nature games, wilderness survival, nature connection, and getting to know the land and ecosystem around them
How much? $985 for the whole year. See "Enrollment" Section below for details. Payment plan options: We can offer quarterly payment plans and monthly payment plans, or other. All payment plans must be fully paid by the last day of the course, regardless of missed classes.


This program meets one Weekend a month for a 9 month long journey. Together we explore a wide range of skills related to earth skills, wildcrafting, carving,  natural world education, and outdoor leadership. This course is perfect for students looking to gain in depth knowledge, build community, and get a hands-on opportunity at survival skills through play, adventure, and crafts. 

Throughout the year students will: 

  • Learn the rules of survival

  • Build shelters

  • Learn friction fire

  • Hear nature stories 

  • Expand sensory awareness 

  • Track animals and identify birds

  • ID edible and medicinal plants 

  • Take home wilderness crafts

  • Gain confidence, community, and belonging 

  • Cultivate knowing within our landscapes

  • Go on overnight camping excursions

See the monthly schedule below for more topics we will touch on! Students will have an opportunity to challenge their skills throughout the year and work together as a team to complete tasks.

2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR

Instructors: Chelsea Ernst and Tyler Doyle

Locations will vary depending on time of year, weather, and activity, but will be held in the greater Bend area on public lands, including locations on Alfalfa Market Road BLM land, Sisters USFS land, and Tumalo State Park

SEPTEMBER 16 & 17 (9-4 each day)

Introduction, Survival "Rule of Threes", Water Purification

Get to know our group for the year! We’ll play sensory awareness and nature-based games, set goals, learn more about one other, the land we live on and the wilderness in our backyard. We’ll touch on the question: what is the first thing you should do when you realize you're in a survival situation? And practice some skills that would help you in that situation.

October 14-15 (Overnight)

Shelters, Knots, and Tarps

Learn effective and practical shelters. Students will learn different techniques for making shelters that can withstand the weather and provide protection from the elements. The team will all work together to build a survival shelter from the landscape. We will also demonstrate a few handy knots for tarp set up.

NOVEMBER 11 (9-4)

Friction Fire and Knife Carving

With the days getting cooler, we’ll focus on learning  how to make fire from the land through bow drill and hand drill. Students will get dirt time for practicing their fire making skills and gain tips and tricks for harsher conditions. In addition, we’ll do knife safety and students will have the tools necessary to carve out their own personal bow drill kit.

DECEMBER 9 & 10 (9-4 each day)

Toolmaking: Stone and Bone

Diving back into our deep roots of human history, we’ll discuss and learn to craft some of the oldest tools of mankind. We’ll begin with bones and grinding them into practical tools such as: needles, fish hooks, arrowheads, and knives. We’ll then learn the art of making tools from stone.

JANUARY 13 (9-4)

Snowshoeing and Snow Shelters

With winter in full swing we’ll get the chance to go play in the snow while learning cold weather and alpine survival. After snowshoeing to an ideal location, students will get the opportunity to construct a team shelter in the snow and learn of many different “emergency” shelters for these conditions.

FEBRUARY 10 (9-4)

Winter Games and Archery

We’ll test the knowledge we’ve gained so far with an exciting game. This gives the group an opportunity to focus on each other’s strengths and weaknesses and fill in gaps for individuals skills. Students will also learn archery and get to practice shooting bows and arrows.

MARCH 9 (9-4)

Wildlife Tracking, Stalking, and Projectiles

As the beginnings of spring begin to emerge we’ll awaken our senses to the art of animal tracking. Students will learn to identify tracks and trails, look for animal signs, and learn the behaviours of the animals all around. We’ll discuss ethical and practical hunting techniques and have the opportunity to keep practicing archery and learn how to use an atlatl.

APRIL 13 & 14 (9-4 each day)

Foraging, Plant ID, and Prep for May's Trip

To celebrate the days getting longer and the fauna in bloom, we’ll go on a group plant harvest. Students will learn plant families and how to identify common edibles and poisonous plants, as well as rules for ethical harvesting. We'll go over the plan for the next month's survival trip and cover any topics we missed so far this year.

MAY 18-19 (Overnight)

Camping Overnight

Put all the years skills to the test! As a group, the team will be given a survival challenge where all the skills learned thus far will come together. We’ll then celebrate the end of the year with a community potluck and skills show and tell.


Contact for late enrollment and payment plan options. We can offer quarterly payment plans and monthly payment plans, or other. All payment plans must be fully paid by the last day of the course, regardless of missed classes. Subsidy info available for immediate families of Veterans, tribe members, and families with financial need.

  • Option to pay the full tuition up front. One Weekend per month. Septem...

    Started Sep 16
    985 US dollars
  • Quarterly Payment plan Option. $280 down. You'll be billed quarterly f...

    Started Sep 16
    280 US dollars


Locations and Transportation?

Parents/guardians drop off and pick up at the months' location. Locations vary each month. The majority are either at our location in SE Bend, managed by Bureau of Land Management, or at other public lands around Bend. There will be a winter class in the mountains West of Sisters. Info on each month will be emailed to parents/guardians within the weeks before class. Some weekends, drop-off will be at our regular meeting place and Nighthawk will transport students by van to a wilderness location for the class.


We teach through a style that balances inquiry with giving real information and answers. We teach by a curriculum outline, but we also value flexibility and a level of student-led learning. So, we allow for wiggle room on the topics we cover, the activities we do, and the craft projects we take on with the students. Our curriculum for this program, like all of our programs, even those for adults, dovetail with the seasons. So, we let the weather and seasons guide what we do.


This program will be 10 students max, with at least a 5:1 Student:Teacher ratio.

Please follow age range suggestions for your program. Students younger than 13 allowed only if they turn 13 within the first couple months of the program. Within one year older is allowed, as long as they understand the age range and that the camp will be geared mainly towards that age group. Please reach out to if needed for individual student considerations.

Email list requests? Questions? Waitlist Requests?


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