Course Information

Ranger School

Read this first: This new event is not a survival class and it is unlike anything else that we offer. This is a fantasy themed weekend based heavily on the ranger characters of Tolkien and D&D. While we teach various interesting skills and offer survival training within the weekend, please understand that this is more about ranger culture than survival skills. We expect EVERY recruit at Ranger School to be dressed in some kind of garb (clothing) that fits into this fantasy world. But listen - we don't expect anyone to buy hundred of dollars of costuming in addition to paying for the class. We do have loaner garb for those who don't have anything that resembles medieval clothing or costuming that would fit into a LOTR, Hobbit, Robin Hood-type world. We'll also recommend some base-layer choices of ordinary clothing that will help with your look. To sum it up, this isn't a survival class with a fantasy theme, this is a LARP weekend that happens to include some survival skills. 

And this: Yes, we know there's a plague upon the land, and most SCA and LARP activity has cancelled for the remainer of 2020. Do not come to Ranger School if you are sick or think you've been exposed to COVID recently. We'll be wearing masks (like rangers do), keeping our distance (like rangers do), and keeping our numbers very small (you know why).    

Now, for the Backstory of Ranger School, told by the founder (Tim MacWelch):

We're moving forward with a dream of mine - a new type of event. This one isn't for everybody. In fact, this isn't for most people, but if this is for you - welcome to the Ranger School!

Let me provide a little backstory to place things in context. Ever since I was a little kid, the realms of fantasy and medieval European history have captivated my imagination. I wanted to be a knight and I even made little castles out of paper, cardboard and tape. Reading books like the Lord of the Rings and watching countless adventure movies only whet my appetite as a teen. Of course, survival skills have been a passion of mine for more than 30 years, and I have never failed to honor and appreciate the ways of my Native American ancestors. When I started hiking and backpacking as a teenager, I really started paying attention the one type of character - the master of the outdoors - and that was the ranger. Here was an individual that combined and embodied so many of the disconnected and incongruent things that I loved. Rangers possessed the woodcraft and outdoor skills of a survival expert. They fought like knights and they knew the forest like a Native. Here was everything I loved, all rolled up in one package!

Now, jump forward 2019. Thanks to the support, encouragment and help of many friends, I have built a "ranger training program" from the wilderness surival and self-reliance topics that I love (and routinely teach at my woodland camp). We ran our very first Ranger School on June 13-14, 2020 and had a great time!        

This event kicked off a series of weekend classes, packed with all the hands-on skills that a ranger would need in the wild.

Course Description:

We currently have four retreats planned per year, matching the four seasons - each one with a unique theme and content. While each retreat will focus on core survival skills (like shelters, fire building, foraging, archery, martial skills and awareness), there will be specialty skills tied into the theme for each season (for example, the "fire and metal" themed retreat in December will include blacksmithing).

But wait, there's more.
In addition to learning survival skills at our private woodland camp, we'll also enjoy a feast on Saturday night and some insanely fun foam weapon combat (we'll provide the weapons and training).

Our September event will have a "Camo and Combat" theme and run like a normal 2-day class for us (starting at 9 am on Saturday, camping over Saturday night and starting again around 8 am on Sunday morning. Class will end around 5 pm on Sunday). And even though there are many extras (and guest instructors), we're offering each Ranger School event at our normal 2-day tuition rate ($267). Here are the skills and activities you'll enjoy throughout the September 5-6th event:

  • Learn how to build hidden wilderness shelters, how to safely procure water & disinfect it (plus how to make a "gypsy well")
  • Fire making and fuel from the wild, the (ancient) history of magnifying glass fires (and tricks for their use)
  • Fall foraging, tree identification and a medicinal plant hike
  • Campfire cooking and a Saturday night feast
  • Perception skills, including awareness practice and man tracking
  • Martial skills, including archery and lessons in self-defense from a professional instructor
  • Special theme content for September will include camouflage and bow making 
  • Last but not least, we will include some fantasy-style fighting throughout the weekend.


To make the retreats feel fully immersive into the world of the ranger, we're requiring "ranger type" clothing and encouraging period camping gear (like lean-tos and canvas tents) to complete the aesthetic. Loaner garb will be available for the first few who need it. Space is limited. Questions are welcome.

Look like a ranger, feast like a ranger, fight like a ranger - be a ranger for the weekend!


Events are currently planned for:

June 13-14, 2020, Summer - Plants and animals theme (animal tracking, snare trapping, animal processing, plant medicines and more)

September 5-6, 2020, Fall - Camo and combat theme (how to make camouflage, bow making, ambush tactics, man tracking and more)

December 12-13, 2020, Winter - Fire and metal theme (blacksmithing, make your own flint & steel fire kit, camp cooking with cast iron and more)

March 27-28, 2021, Spring - Wood and fiber theme (cordage production, fiber arts, wood carving, friction fire, fishing and more)


Each of these events will be our normal 2-day rate of $267. Class size is limited. Contact us for details. 


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