Wilderness First Aid at Smokey House

YouthWork & Learn students have been studying  survival skills this season, from fire and shelter building to emergency first aid.  This culminated in the official SOLO Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course, a two-day event resulting in certificates of completion for the students.  We now have four staff members fully certified in WFA, and all our students have experience dealing with emergency care.

WFA IMG_0313

Doing a “chunk check” as part of the ABCDE’s of the primary survey

In reviewing what we did and learned, Dillon wrote:  [On February 27 and 28] “we had a wilderness first aid survival course. It was for 16 hours, 8 hours each on Thursday and Friday. The instructor was named Jeremy, and he is from New Hampshire. I learned about “ABCDE”, which stands for Air (or airflow), breathing, circulation, deformity and environment. This is how we treat a patient and the order we should go in.
WFA IMG_0325

We debriefed after every hands-on practice.

We also did many outside learning practices with fake injured persons. The one that stood out was with Juanita, Jim (science teacher), John (participant), and others. Juanita’s car was in the middle of the parking lot, parked sideways in the middle. Juanita was laying on the car’s hood. It appeared a drunk driver (John) hit her and Jim as well,  as he was walking with his walking stick on the side of the road. People had fake blood/injuries on themselves. I was a part of the team helping Jim. I had to hold his head so it wouldn’t move.


Learning to make good splints

Another thing we learned about was writing/using SOAP notes. It is a document that records all the information you received from the patient if they were conscious. It can also record everything you did for a patient (checked vitals, etc). The course was a little tiring, but it was well worth it.”

When asked what he felt was the most important thing he learned in the course, Lucas replied, “not to panic.”   Being able to stop, think, and assess a situation without reacting impulsively is not only a key skill for first aid but also an important life skill.

As well as running WFA for the students, we offered a second course to the public on Saturday and Sunday, subsidized by The Tutorial Center.  We’re pleased to be able to share this opportunity with others, and we hope to sponsor the course again in the future.IMG_0020

Winter World Camp

Building quinzees

Join  us  for  a  week  of  winter  survival  activities  exploring  the  winter  woodlands.  Learn  how  to  build  snow  shelters  and  campfires.  Track  animals  and  see  how  they  adapt  to  winter  conditions.  Be  a  citizen  scientist  with  probes  and  other  technology.  Have  fun  and  learn  something  new  at  the  same  time.

Dates:  Monday,  February  17  through  Friday,  February  21,  2014

Times:  9:00  AM  to  3:00  PM

Where:  The  Tutorial  Center  at  Smokey  House  Center
426  Danby  Mountain  Road,  Danby,  VT  05739

Activities:  Activities  will  change,  depending  on  the  weather  and  group  interests,  but  may  include  the  following:


  • Snowshoeing  and  hiking
  • Building  snow  shelters  (called  quinzees)  and/or  other  wilderness  shelters
  • Campfires,  including  fire  safety,  and  outdoor  cooking  • Animal  tracking  and  observation
  • Tree  identification
  • Weather  and  water  field  studies  using  scientific  probes  and  software
  • Photography  and  blogging
  • Knots  and  lashing

Requirements:  A  spirit  of  fun  and  adventure!  Willingness  to  try  new  things  and  learn  new  skills!  Plus:

  • Normal  outdoor  clothing  for  winter  –  boots,  warm  jackets,  snow  pants,  hats,  mittens/gloves,  warm  socks,  sweaters  or  fleeces
  • Bag  lunch  each  day
  • (Snacks  provided.)

Staff:  Experienced  teachers  from  TTC  at  Smokey  House

Cost:  $200  for  the  full  week  program  • Full  payment  is  due  upon  registration.  Checks  preferred.  • Make  checks  out  to:  “The  Tutorial  Center”.  • Contact  us  for  information  about  paying  by  credit  card,  invoice,  or  cash.  • Contact  us  for  information  about  partial  scholarships.

 Click to Download the Informational Flier

For  information  and  registration:  Contact  Juanita  Burch-Clay using the form below, or call  802‐293‐9300

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Building Survival Shelters

Reports on  Jan. 8 shelter building at YouthWork&Learn at Smokey House:

Robin Chesnut-Tangerman (instructor):  With the onset of real winter weather we are spending time learning about winter survival and wilderness first aid. We had talked about emergency shelters recently, and the important aspects to consider when planning them. Today we put it into practice – we bundled up warmly and headed into the woods where we split into two teams. Each team selected a site and had about an hour to design and build an emergency shelter. The hardest part for me as a teacher was NOT building or making suggestions!

IMG_7677The students did a great job and came up with very different designs and final results.  We decided not to cover the shelters with pine and hemlock boughs, which we would have done in a real emergency. Since it was not the real deal we didn’t tear the branches off living trees. One of the most reassuring things was that although it was only about 10 degrees, no one got cold until the very end when we stopped moving and conducted peer reviews of the structures.

Kieghan:   Today we learned what it is like to be stuck out in the wilderness and how we can make shelters. A friend and I made this cool looking shelter. It took us about an hour to build and it can fit up to two people in it at a time. It is made entirely out of sticks and all natural resources. I think it’s the best one I have ever constructed out of sticks.

IMG_7689Dillon:  In my group, we used a large rock and put sticks around it. In the middle, we used more taller sticks and on the side, we used smaller sized sticks. We also tried to put sticks outwards on one side to keep warmth in. The shelter is able to fit about 2 people in it. While I was it in, it was quite warm. The other group had sticks facing upward and sticks supporting the shelter. They also had green pine sticks inside as well. In the groups, we went to see the other group’s and had to make a comment on something you liked and a question or suggestion. My question was why was it built so close to a stream? The group had an interesting answer. Today was an interesting day.


Making a Quinzee at Smokey House

Piling up snow to make the quinzee

Piling up snow to make the quinzee

What do you do when the first substantial snowfall turns your world white?  You go outside!  Never mind that it’s 12 degrees outside with a wind chill factor around zero.

Prep for outdoor activities

Prep for outdoor activities



Monday, as part of our study of winter ecology and wilderness survival, we built a “quinzee”, a snow shelter carved out of piled up snow. This kind of shelter can provide well-insulated protection from arctic temperatures.  By mounding the snow and waiting for several hours, the snow has a change to sinter, or firm up, as the snow crystals bond.

Digging out the inside of the quinzee

Digging out the inside of the quinzee

We started digging out the interior Monday afternoon and finished it Wednesday, when the weather was a sultry 25 degrees.

Moving snow is hard work!  Sometimes a break is needed (and a chance to work on your tan?)

Moving snow is hard work! Sometimes a break is needed (and a chance to work on your tan?)

YouthWork and Learn – The Tutorial Center at Smokey House Center, Danby

November Highlights at YouthWork and Learn

November flew by at our high school YouthWork and Learn program at the Smokey House Center.  Highlights include:


* Cooking and eating from the garden throughout the month, starting with pumpkin pie and ending with carrot-corn burritos.

* Co-hosting a workshop on soil for new farmers, sponsored by RAFFL.

* Creating prints from nature with guest educator Barbara Robertson.IMG_7330




*Preparing for a larger garden in the spring, moving more rocks out of the field we scythed and putting in a cover crop.  (Unfortunately, we put it in too late.  The weather suddenly turned cold. Next year we’ll do better.)

* Building our outdoor skills, hiking in the snow, and some practice with campfire.  (We got it going with a single match!)  It takes practice to roast hot dogs and marshmallows…