Looking at the situation I notice a distubing trend whereby originally people couldn’t help but learning wilderness skills. Then they started to forget. But a few were left who knew the old ways. The greats like Tom Brown and Larry Dean Olsen and others of their generation learned the bulk of their skills from mentors. Then they went and started schools and the next generation learned at least partially by paying to go to school with them, though they may have been mentored also. Then many of these people like Thomas J. Elpel, and dozens of Tracker School graduates up and started their own schools. Now our generation has more and more wilderness schools. Practically everyone in the US can find one within a few hours from where they live. More pop up every year. But how many people on this forum can afford to go? We have either time but no money or money but no time. I’m with Scout and the unschooling crowd. We’ve got enough schools at this point. We need more mentors. And we need to be mentors. Anyone on here engaged in mentoring? Tell us about it.

I would add that it’s not so easy as the “take a kid fishing” commericals suggest these days what with pedophile priests, lawsuits, and child abuse clearances. How do we get around that if we don’t have any young relatives nearby?

not sure if i could call myself a mentor yet but i do work with youth.
for almost 6 years i’ve been working “youth at risk” i hate that term. show me a youth, or anyone for that matter, who is not at risk. anyways i find the most difficult part of mentoring is to convey my passion for the subject as inspiring to the student without coming across as cheesy. but i guess thats another topic.
there are people, young and old, all over who can benefit from what we are doing. most countis have some sort of mentoring/big brother/big sister program. do it. one hour a week is usually all thats required.
these programs are huge and there is nomally a long list of kids waiting for you.
next time you’re at a park or in a touristy wilderness area, talk to some of your elders. those goofy rv’ers got some stuff to teach as well. its hard to be a mentor if you’re not being mentorred.
excellent thread penny

i’m trying to pass my thoughts and learnings along to my friends. i’m fortunate to have people around me that are good thinkers and that are willing to try out-of-the-ordinary things.

i was able to help my best friend bust a coal and blow a flame with my willow bow-drill set. then when another set of friends were in town visiting, luke and i introduced the technology to them. we were also able to get one of them thinking a lot about the impending collapse and what can be done to get ready for it.

i waver between being pissed off at the tracker schools for being so fucking expensive and being jealous at them for being able to make a living doing this kind of stuff. but mostly i get pissed off.

in my heart i believe there should be no locks on knowledge, the same way there should be no locks on food or housing. though it’s great that the elpels and browns and youngs of the world are spreading some knowledge, they’re still playing the civilization game by locking it up. i can’t fault them too much since the civ eats up anything that doesn’t play its game. but i can guaran-goddamn-tee you that if i can drink in any kind of knowledge from them, i’m going to pour it out free of charge for anyone else who’s thirsty.

I’ve got paid for mentoring in the past but lately I just do it volunteerily for free of charge. I think anyone can mentor.

I've got paid for mentoring in the past but lately I just do it volunteerily for free of charge.

If you don’t mind me asking, road runner man, how did you get paid to be a mentor?

Thank you,


I signed up for the job through the Department of Service to Children and Families and got it. I worked until the funds ran out about six months after starting. I don’t remember the name and whole experience exactly. I had to take a criminal historty background check and piss test and mentor a 10 year old. I’d have to go through my records to recall more of the experience but I’d rather not. I hope this answers your question?

To whom it may concern: I made some modification to that last post. They bothered me so bad I had to change’m.

I was mentored by a ruthlessly effective hunter and trapper who I think got a real kick out of killing animals with his bare hands. He was a good tracker too. I never shared this guys dominerring attitude, and dark humor but he played up the role of mentor and taught me a craft- I never would have learned all the tricks on my own.

I would like to mentor a young one. It would be like being a grandparent- you get to impart wisdom and a spiritual center, and you don’t have to deal with the less exciting aspects of parenting! I have small amount of skill and knowledge that I would enjoy sharing. I would love to mentor. Really, is there any higher calling for a man?

I am suspicious of people who preach.-- I’m indifferent towards teachers. – I do my learning from people who share.

Penny Scout is right. There are enough schools. We need good mentors in a bad way.

I’d like to be mentored by a kind old woman who knows secret uses for the stranger things that grow in the forest. I’d like to be mentored by a child who know how to play make believe, and knows how to cry.
…gosh that sounds creepy ;D Don’t say that at your interview to be a mentor!!!

..gosh that sounds creepy Don't say that at your interview to be a mentor!!!

Ha. I didn’t think of it as creepy until you pointed it out. It actually made me think of:

  1. some things Willem has said about the re-childing aspects of re-wilding
  2. the fact that children tend to behave animistically until we train them not to
  3. Martin Prechtel’s comments about how we don’t know how to grieve
I am suspicious of people who preach.-- I'm indifferent towards teachers. -- I do my learning from people who share.

Well put, Luddite. Although, ironically, the concept of ludditism makes me think of preachers–probably from playing too much City of Villains, though.

I find myself–among my group of friends–often walking a fine razor edge that involves prophetic sharing (prophetic in the sense of the guys in the Old Testament who “tell it like it is”–not soothsaying). I know some of my friends consider my thoughts “out there,” but I try to do more sharing and less preaching, and I think that maybe that style indicates why they haven’t run away in terror yet.

What an intriguing story! I’d love to hear more of the story with your mentor.
Spill the beans! How did you meet? What stories pop into mind when you think of him? What happened to him?


This guy worked as a surveyor for my father. I was probably 15 when we met at some function and started talking about our outdoor interests. He was going on and on with these huge lists of all the fish and animals he had bagged in the last year, I thought he was full of it, but decided it would be fun to do his trap line with him.
I was terribly shocked to find that you learn a lot about a creature’s character when you set to snuff out its life without a gun or knife. (he would break the animals neck to preserve the skull and hide). Each species and individual reacts to the situation differently, and you see many of these dramas played out when you run a trap line. He pointed out locality differences in the demeanor of foxes and pointed out that animals are more willing to die on a good day and a full stomach. He was always joking about the killing and the tragedy of it all.
I stuck to it and followed him through the woods regularity for several years, until he died in a snowmobile crash. He wasn’t full of it by the way, we bagged thousands of critters, and processed them for all their worth.
I think about the weird way he would wink at me and how he was a fine citizen among people, but a ruthless scourge to the animal folk.
I still run a trap line but I try to sneak up with a subsonic spinal shot, preferring the quieter and less personal approach.

Rix- yeah, so many people grieve by going shopping, using mind altering substances, or finding a replacement for the thing they’ve lost. Most of us don’t have the kind of relationships where we can just cry and have the people we love offer their support.