Skills Courses





Light My Fire!

(Class limited to 12 students)
April 30 - May 1, 2018
Tuition: $695
Instructors: Cody Lundin and Mark Dorsten

Experience a comprehensive immersion into the most alluring of the four!  A tool that has shaped civilization for millennia, its understanding has all but been lost to modern society. In this two day course students will regain their primal power by exploring modern fire lighting techniques essential for survival scenarios, as well as primitive fire making technologies fostering a greater awareness of how our ancestors did more with less. Unique to ALSS courses, Light My Fire is based “outdoors” yet is not an overnight camping course unless you wish to camp.

Modern Fire

Modern Fire: from flint to Fritos; make fire using cotton, duct tape, toothpaste and a can, paper, wood, metal matches, lighters, magnesium, chemicals, optics, and more. Learn fire physics, techno-tinders, and how to make fool-proof home-made tinder. Create your own flint and steel kit along with char cloth making made simple.

Fire from sticks

Fire from Sticks: create a functional bowdrill and handdrill set from a natural environment, experience using a fire saw, strap drill, pump drill and more. How to make the all powerful tinder bundle, understanding the fire triangle, transporting fire, and recognizing nature’s fire starters.  

Fire as a Tool: for disinfecting water, cooking, hollowing out wood, thermoregulation, and torches for light.

Fire Respect: fire safety, extinguishing, uses for carbon and ash, and leaving no trace of your fire’s presence.

(minimal hiking required / optional overnight) 


Catching Critters: Primitive Hunting and Fishing Techniques

(Class limited to 12 students)
Not offered in 2019...please check back next year!
Instructors: Cody Lundin and Mark Dorsten

Unlike a modern survival scenario where getting rescued is the name of the game, indigenous peoples in days past lived off the land. Depending on the bioregion, once basic needs of shelter, water, cutting edges, and fire are met, procuring food becomes a priority. Catching Critters explores several methods of “making meat” used by indigenous peoples around the world. Expand your hunting and gathering tool box of food gathering know-how from traps and spears to fishing techniques.

Passive Hunting Tools: (procuring food while you sleep.) Learn several trigger mechanisms such as toggle, notched and treadle and lever that can be inter-mixed with deadfall traps, twitch up snares and drag snares. Create a willow fish trap, different styles of fish hooks, and primitive fishing line and tackle.  

Active Hunting Tools: make and use the throwing spear and fishing spear for small game, and practice with the ALSS atlatl sets, bolas, and rabbit sticks.

Hunting Tool Methodologies: how to notch and fletch arrows and spears, practical prongs for the fishing spear, lashing spear tips, recipes for pine pitch glues, making pitch sticks for glue on the go, and using fire to dry and straighten wood shafts.

Wild Life Etiquette: recognizing wildlife sign, de-scenting and camouflage, dealing with animal diseases and the legal ramifications of trapping.

(some cross country hiking required)


Southwestern Primitive Pottery with John Olsen

(Class limited to 12 students)
Not offered in 2019...please check back next year!
Tuition: $695
Instructor: John Olsen

Primitive Pottery
Although pottery was made and used by indigenous peoples around the globe, perhaps nothing personifies the ancient Southwest quite like its world renowned pottery. It’s beautiful line work and shape, and designs that defy description were common all over its desert and mountain regions. Now you can experience what native peoples in the Southwest have known for centuries to create beautiful and functional pottery! 

Learn how to identify and collect native clay and tempers, how to process and age the clay, and how to make clay and temper. Experiment with various construction methods such as coil, scrape, paddling, pinching, and learn how to add attachments to various shapes. Decorate the pottery by learning Southwestern design elements and painting using yucca plant brushes and natural pigments. Learn about the wood firing process with cottonwood and pinyon pine, the how to’s of proper oxidation and reduction, and how to make and use a primitive pottery kiln. Go home with pottery that you’ve made yourself just as it was made thousands of years ago!