by Mary McKean

My name is Mary McKean, and I am a Massachusetts native. In 2012 I was a student at Ithaca College (IC) when my journey with Primitive Pursuits began. I’ve always felt most alive in the outdoors, so I decided to enroll in Environmental Sentinels, an awesome IC course co-taught with Primitive Pursuits. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

Before I knew it, I was formally challenged to use my senses to question my surroundings, sink my hands (… and feet, and clothes, and face) in the dirt (… and water, and snow), and seriously grapple some big questions that simply don’t have right or wrong answers.

The experience was liberating to say the least and from that winter forward, I was hooked. As an Environmental Studies major the following fall, I was a teaching assistant for the Sentinels course and learned a bit about how the Lead Instructors (Tim and Jed from Primitive Pursuits, and Jason Hamilton from IC) orchestrated paradigm-shifting experiences for their students each day.

The following spring I jumped in with Primitive Pursuits’ Wilderness Skills Instructor course. Some of my most treasured memories from that time include a hilarious “Water Marmot” chase, an insanely epic day-long scavenger hunt, and many delicious foraged meals.

I felt the deeply empowering way this course influenced my peers who came from a wide diversity of professions and lifestyles and would recommend the experience to any and every adult on the planet! During my final year at IC, I joined Primitive Pursuits’ Forest Preschool team as a weekly volunteer teacher. I learned so much from both the spirited little ones and also from the lead instructors – Melissa, Danielle, and Sean, who are all brilliant and patient mentors in their own unique ways.

Primitive Pursuits brings magic into people’s lives by meeting them where they’re at and connecting them to the natural world in ways that push them to be their most imaginative, present, and uninhibited selves. I’ve seen this happen for 3-year-olds and 65-year-olds alike and personally continue to learn from past adventures with Primitive Pursuits from all the way across the country.

I’m currently interning in the Community Programs Department at Hidden Villa, a nonprofit educational farm and wilderness preserve in California. My job here is to coordinate and teach programs for children and families that connect them to animals, gardening, wilderness, and other cultures.

I plan to continue following education, conservation, and environmental equity as a lifestyle and career path, and I know for sure that I wouldn’t be here if Primitive Pursuits hadn’t sent me down its wild rabbit hole. If you read this whole story, I congratulate you.

Now get outside and play!