Wilderness Survival / Primitive Skills/Prepping a Skeptic


Hello Michael,

This Mother's Day, I want to give my mother things to help her stay safe.

I am constantly frustrated by her lack of preparedness, even directly in the face of an emergency. When Hurricane Sandy was approaching, I had to do all the prep and she didn't take things seriously until that awful wind. We did not experience an emergency and she immediately went back to the way she was before.

In a few months time, I won't live close enough to her to drill sergeant her into preparing for an emergency, much less prepare for the both of us.

So I want to get her a very small kit, perhaps something she can keep in the car? My setup would overwhelm her completely, she needs something minimal. What is the best kit for a suburban skeptic?

I know I want to get her a resqme keychain for escaping from cars, and a small swiss army knife keychain with a light.

She will carry anything I tell her to (for MY peace of mind) but I want to be sure it won't be too complex for her in the height of an emergency. Cost is not an object.

Please help Michael, I'm afraid to move!

Family is hard to reach, primarily because we are so close to them.  My kids have trouble sharing how to program the dvd player with me, but I could learn it from an instructor.  Another piece is that many folks don't want to "surrender" their world view for what they see as a perspective of fear.  When our school made the subtle but powerful shift from a fear based reactionary program, much like the drill instructor piece you mentioned, to one of manifesting "peace of mind" and bounty, we began to flourish, not just "survive".  My recommendation, for what it is worth, is to recruit her friends by giving them simple tools in the context of offering piece of mind and as "thank you" gifts for being there for your mom.   Wisdom often abandons common sense for joy, but we don't have to set aside peace of mind when we abandon the shackles of fear.  Your doing great work and you are a great son .  Sometimes our roles get in the way.  In this case, the "warrior" energy of wanting to protect, even out of love, is a little disconcerting to a wizened matriarch. At the core of it, she may just not want you to "worry so much".  In that case, just come from a place of joy and emphasize everyones "peace of mind" in gifting her "practical things".  Many women, my wife included, have been conditioned to tolerate "practical" gifts each time they hope for thoughtful ones.  Maybe coupling the "resqme key chain" with a stuffed animal or her favorite chocolates would help.  It certainly is a dance my friend.  The best we can do in the end is live the example.  I hope these insights help.  

Wilderness Survival / Primitive Skills

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Michael James Douglas


I can answer questions about wilderness survival, primitive skills, bushcraft, mentoring, outdoor education, nature, awareness and tracking. The subsets of these skill areas are vast and include Shelter Building, dressing for the out of doors, fiber arts, wild crafting, making cordage from plants, trees, and animal parts, flint knapping and stone tools, bone tool making, crafting and using hunting tools from the landscape, tracking, trailing, track interpretation, edible, medicinal, and utilitarian plants, trees, and shrubs, primitive pottery, fermentation, fungi for food and medicine, identifying hazards, movement, camouflage, and concealment, making baskets and containers, water gathering and purification, using bird language to read the landscape for survival needs and the movement/location of other living things on the landscape, primitive/modern navigation, fire making off the landscape, fire by friction, ice lenses, and approaches to survival atttude.


Student of Survival and Primitive Skills since 1980. Founded The Maine Primitive Skills School. Have been sharing and learning skills professionally since August 4, 1989. Studied with Tom Brown jr., Charles Worsham, Paul Rezendes, Jon Young, Mark Elbroch, Arnie Neptune, Ray Rietze, and all of the students, volunteers, interns, instructors, and staff at The Maine Primitive Skills School and the schools that have been started by its community. We go on full survival outings at least twice a year to build community and develop our skill sets. New instructors are allowed to bring a metal knife. These trips usually last between 5 and 10 days. We have also been weaving in permaculture and sustainable land management concepts at our main campus.

New England Environmental Educators Alliance Maine Environmental Educators Alliance

MAMLE-Middle Association of Middle Level Education Ancestral Plants-A Primitive Skills Guide to Important Edible, Medicinal, and Udeful Plants of the Northeast.

B.S. University of Maine, College of Education, Environmental Education USMC-Numerous military Survival Schools (SERE, JWS, Cold Weather) Tracker School (16 courses from 1989-2003) Kamana (Wilderness Awareness School) Paul Resendez (numerous Tracking Workshops)

Awards and Honors
Vigil Honor-BSA-1984 Primitive Skills in the Modern Classroom-1992 Volunteers of America Star Award-2002

Past/Present Clients
U.S. Military Unity College Bowdoin College Colby College Scouting Maine Conservation School 4H

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