Living Earth Teen Apprentice Program

One weekend a month. Eight months.
Hunter-gatherer skills in the modern world.

The Teen Apprentice Program is designed as a multi-year journey, starting with the basics of wilderness survival, tracking, and making, eventually leading to individualized paths of a specialized, self-sufficient lifestyle. The goal, over the course of several years, is to guide participants in a quest to find their niche in life where they can take the skills learned at TAP and practically apply them to real world situations. Participants will leave the course empowered to connect with nature outside of programs, find and build community where they live, and develop the skills to earn a living from their experience.

We see the teens walking down one of three paths eventually: bushcraft/naturalist (outdoor ed), permaculture/homesteading, and craftsmanship. TAP students, with the potential for five years for those who join at 13 years of age, will be exposed to these three topics to varying degrees and eventually begin to lean more to one or the others as they learn where their interests and talents lie in terms of providing for themselves and community. The final year will be their opportunity to provide for the community with their skill of choice.

Students of all levels will camp, cook, and craft together. This will create a community of diverse experience, giving the less experienced individuals a chance to be inspired by their more experienced peers and those with more experience a chance to mentor those who are up and coming. That means a chance to increase leadership and mentoring skills for our second-year students.

Here are some of the skills we will be practicing in their first year (TAP I):

Making your own kit:

  • Bow and arrows and quiver
  • Knife or hatchet
  • Leather shoes
  • Fire-making kit
  • Wooden pack frame
  • Wooden bowl and spoon
  • Oilcloth tarp for shelter
  • Bags for the pack frame

In addition to crafting, there is the survival layer of the program. You will learn how to make fire, set up reliable tarp shelters, to hunt, trap, fish, and forage, process animals, and how to make an herbal first aid kit.

There is also an awareness layer of the program. Through games, martial arts and challenges, you’ll learn how to move your bodies with stealth, agility and strength.

Being in a tight community with other teens and your instructors, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, about conflict and communication, and working together as a cooperative team.

For teens who are looking forward to their second year (TAP II), we are going to increase the difficulty level of bushcraft, food gathering and processing, and making skills. They will be given many challenges that will strengthen their ability to make decisions independently, work together as a community with a little less guidance from the instructors, and delve into some more intense introspection around their interests, talents, and future desires. The skills we will cover in TAP II are:

  • Pack basket/bark pack
  • advanced campfire cooking
  • Food preservation
  • Primitive traps and their ethical use
  • Fire by friction
  • Oil cloth ponchos
  • Hand forged arrowheads
  • Tracking journals
  • Hand forged cooking implements
  • Advanced archery techniques

These ways of being don’t magically appear. The Apprenticeship is not for everyone. Apprenticeships used to be common—a way for a motivated person to commit to more rigorous learning. An apprentice puts their whole heart into their learning and their work. Apprentices need to be up for challenge, failure and trying again. The Apprenticeship is not a program where you’ll just hang out with friends, or be bossed around by your instructors. As individuals and as a community, you will take responsibility, you’ll experiment, you’ll feel sweet successes and you’ll feel natural consequences like hunger or cold or conflict. You’ll be challenged to see the rain and the sun, the tension and the smoothness, all as valuable parts of the human experience. This is what it means to be truly alive—super-living.

Instructors: Peter Yenken, Paul Cipriani, Camille Thionville

Come and join us, one weekend a month. Come and dive into challenge, into connection, into resourcefulness, into learning, into what feels real. Answer “Yes!” to the call to adventure!

Please read our COVID-19 Protocols Document HERE before registering.

Details & Application for the Teen Apprentice Program

  • 2023 Spring Weekends: Mar 25-26, Apr 22-23, May 13-14

    2023 – 24 Weekends: Sep 23-24, Oct 28-29, Nov 11-12, Jan 20-21, Feb 17-18, Mar 16-17, Apr 20-21, May 18-19, Jun 17-21 (camp).

    As we transition to a school year Sept-May model, we have some extra weekends scheduled in spring 2023.

  • Arrival Saturday morning at 9 am. Camping overnight on Saturday. Pick up on Sunday at 4 pm.
  • Ages 13 – 17
  • Afton, VA
  • Teen Apprentice Program Pricing: Payment plans available.

    Spring 2023 only: $675

    Full Year Sept 2023 – June 2024: $2350.

    All Dates Spring 2023 – June 2024: $3025

    Application required. We are accepting applications for the 2023 – 2024 program now until March 1st, 2023.

    Applications will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis so don’t wait to apply. Applicants will be notified within 3 weeks. Accepted students will have the opportunity to review the 2023 -2024 dates before making their final decision to register.

  • All project materials are provided and included in the tuition cost.

    Dinner and breakfast will be provided every weekend.

  • Free T-shirt included