Our Blog : Living off the land

Welcome to the Medomak Camp blog, a place for us to share with you, our campers, all sorts of goodies that you might be interested in.  From food and living off the land , to what Medomak looks like in the off-season and a behind the scenes look at our winter office, check back often for all new posts.

“Hi, I’m Mike, the Nature Guy.”

December 6, 2011

Hi everyone, and thanks for reading. My name is Mike and I worked at Medomak Family Camp this previous summer as the “Nature Guy”, connecting campers to the beautiful 300 acre landscape here in Washington, ME. Through interactive games and experiences, campers were guided all summer long on adventures which heightened their awareness of the happenings in nature and increased their appreciation towards it.

Since I have decided to live in the “Yellow House” on the camp property this winter, the camp director has asked me to write weekly blog entries describing my experiences and activities.

Some of the blog entries will be taken from my personal journal describing local happenings and experiences I encounter while interacting with the landscape here at camp. This may include local wildlife sightings, wild edible, medicinal, or useful plant findings, the changing of the seasons, new weather patterns, ect.

Other blog entries will describe in detail my recent activities, along with instructions to follow along, if any readers should choose to do so. These entries may include how to process bread from acorns, how to make winter health tonics from plants in your backyard, how to make healthful teas from common, easy to identify trees, how to better attract and observe wildlife through your kitchen window, ect.

I have many ideas, I am excited about this blog, and am definetly open to suggestion! But first a little background on who I am and how I got into this nature stuff.

I was born and raised in suburban New Jersey, where I went to high school and college. Nearing college graduation, the idea of being an accountant in an office for the next 30 years made me feel increasingly claustrophobic. And upon graduation I decided I’d take some time to figure out what it was that I really wanted to do.

So, I turned away from a path that promised to include a high paying job in a suburban town and all that comes along with that, and I moved to New England in search of another option. I worked and volunteered for several months on different farms in an attempt to learn how to “live off the land”. I learned first hand where our food comes from and the work involved in cultivating vegetables and caring for livestock. I learned the life of a farmer includes long hours and hard, often thankless work. However, I was finding that working outside and connecting myself to the soil, the plants, the weather, ect. expanded my awareness and gave me a sense of fulfillment, or connection. Rather than walking from the house to the car with my head racing with thoughts, I noticed myself stopping to check out what the sky was doing, or observing how much rain had fallen last night. And I began to really appreciate this connection.

During this time I met many great people, and among these people was a community of folks teaching skills which pre-dated the agricultural “living off the land” model. This community is also known as the Maine Primitive Skills School. This school teaches connection to the natural world which, though practice, can reach levels of awareness nearly forgotten by our modern society. I was hooked.

I went back to New Jersey for the winter to work and saved up all the money I could so I could return to Maine the next spring and take workshops at the Maine Primitive Skills School. And so I did, and by midsummer I had embarked on a 2 month camping trip in the Maine wilderness far from civilization, with only bare essentials.

In a little over a year I went from a interview office at a well respected accounting firm in NJ to the farm fields of New England to the wilderness of Maine.

When I returned from the woods the following autumn I had realized how deep the connection goes, and how shallow mine was in comparison. Sure, I knew a few edible plants, but I wanted to know ALL of them. I could see a deer track in the mud, but I wanted to see ALL the deer tracks, be able to tell how old it was, where the animal was going , even what it was thinking. And so was my way of thinking, and it still is. A deep sense of curiosity, child-like. Following my 2 month wilderness excursion, I decided to become an apprentice at the Maine Primitive Skills School and lived there for 2 years. I continue to have  strong relationships with its community members.

In this blog I hope to pass along some of the skills that have been shared with me during the past few years and to help those out there who want to build a stronger relationship with the beautiful world of nature. Thanks again for reading!

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