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2. Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School, NJ
Survival Spirit: Unlock the Landscape

If you think the Native American slant of Tom Brown, Jr.’s pedagogy means New Age drum circles and "First Aid With Crystals" seminars, consider this: As a boy in rural New Jersey, Brown apprenticed with Lipan Apache elder Stalking Wolf (aka Grandfather). He went on to track missing people for law enforcement and gained national prominence with his 1978 book The Tracker (the first of 16 editions). Now 58, Brown has been teaching students of his own for over 30 years and is considered a guru of wilderness skills and spirituality. His Standard Class in the Jersey Pine Barrens is something of an homage to Grandfather ($899; Oneness with nature gets equal billing with building a debris shelter; stoking the "fire within" is as important as starting a bow-and-spindle friction fire. Stalking, foraging, tanning, toolmaking, collecting water with a solar still, and an intro to tracking are some of the ground covered on each six-and-a-half-day journey. "Tom can track and tell you if a person is left-handed or right-handed," says former pupil Pamela Averack. "And he’ll show you how to tell if roadkill is still edible." When might that skill be useful? Let’s hope never. But with Brown, learning to read the landscape like the back of your hand—and by the firelight within—is the outdoor equivalent of an Ivy League education.

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