Outdoor Summer School with the Adirondack Woodsmen's School
When I think of summer school, thoughts of algebra, grammar, and chemistry spring to the front of my mind. I would never think of learning traditional lumberjack skills, such as carving a canoe, throwing an ax, or building a fire without using matches or a lighter. But if I went to Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondack Mountains, these skills are exactly what I would be learning this summer.
Paul Smith’s College is a small private college in New York. The school is one of the very few schools in the U.S. that offers degree programs in Forestry Surveying, Fish & Wildlife Recreation, and Arboriculture.
This summer, the school began to offer a new long course called the Adirondack Woodsmen’s School. Two-dozen students signed up for the program and spent two weeks of their summer sleeping under the stars and living their own adventures, lumberjack style.
“They’re a very anachronistic group,” said Brett McLeod, an assistant professor at Paul Smith’s who now directs the summer program. “They should have been born in the 1800s. They really like working with, and learning with, their hands.”
This year, only a few students were able to attend the program. New year, McLeod hopes to add more sessions if there is sufficient demand. McLeod also hopes to reach a more diverse group of students, including those whose main experience with lumberjacks has occurred on television programs.
The students who participate in Adirondack Woodsmen’s School get to use some pretty awesome hand-tools and power-tools. These tools are also very expensive; by the end of the summer, the students have used $10,000 worth of hand tools and $5,00o of power tools.
Fortunately, Stihl, a power tools company, offered to pay the salaries of three instructors involved with the program. Carhartt, a company that specializes in outdoor wear, also donated work clothes for students and teachers to use during the program.
So, if spending a few weeks making Paul Bunyan proud next summer sounds like something you would be interested in, then maybe this is the summer school for you.
Via The New York Times