Before coming to Freedom Mountain Academy, I had attended two other schools/programs that were very different: Eckerd Academy in Florida in 2010, and Red Cliff Ascent in Utah in 2013.

At Eckerd I was taught how to start a wood fire, do morning chores such as gathering wood for the next night’s pow-wow, sweeping the boardwalks, cleaning the latrine or tents, and straightening the tents and beds. It wasn’t all that different from morning chores at FMA.

Red Cliff was very different from Eckerd. In the mornings we would wake up, hang our sleeping bags, roll our sleeping mats, cook our oats, clean our pots, and roll our survival packs up using a small blue tarp and nylon rope, placing our sleeping bags inside for padding and transport. Around 4:00 p.m. we would arrive at our next camp after hiking for two to four miles. Before supper was “bow time,” referring to starting our fires with a bow and drill. I bet it’s the most complex fire starting method on the planet.

FMA has given me a mix between Red Cliff and Eckerd. In the mornings we clean the floors, rooms and kitchen, and then have classes. Only once a month do we go out into the woods for six to ten days. I’m grateful that at FMA I get a bed, a tent, hydrated food, matches and a backpack. FMA is definitely my favorite program/school. I’m looking forward to learning in the classroom and in the field. Not every place you go will teach you how to do an emergency rappel and build a stretcher. I can’t wait to see what else is in store.

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