David Wescott is an outdoor educator who uses skill sets based in primitive technology, survival and traditional camping, as well as a variety of contemporary activities. He has been active in these fields through their teaching and application for over five decades. Although recently retiring from the academic field, David was employed as a department chairman, outdoor program coordinator, and leader of 3-5 week field-based skills classes at three different universities.
Living and teaching mainly in Idaho, USA, he was required to register as an Idaho Guide. Tiring of the paper chase – keeping up with expiring certifications – he dropped out of the high-tech approach to outdoor living for a while and plunged full-time into primitive skills by becoming the owner of Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS). In an effort to assemble the best teachers and practitioners in the field, in 1988 he resurrected the Rabbit Stick Rendezvous, originally created by his long-time mentor Larry Olsen. At the time, BOSS became a highly respected outdoor school, and Rabbitstick continues, after 34 years, to provide a model for over three-dozen other events located around the world.
In 1989, Dave was fortunate to have been involved as a founding board member of the Society of Primitive Technology (SPT). In 1991, the Bulletin of Primitive Technology, the organizations member journal began publication. After sharing the editorial job for the first two issues, he became the full-time editor of this small specialty journal that published for 25 years. Two bulletin compilations resulted, with David editing Primitive Technology I and II – A Book of Earth Skills (1999) and Ancestral Skills (2001). He also edited his friend Steve Watts’ book, Practicing Primitive in 2004.
Risking the slings and arrows of their critics for always finding a way to make a living from teaching “old stuff.” Dave and Steve partnered in an effort to preserve the skills that came from the days of the American frontier, originally called Woodcraft. These skills, along with primitive and contemporary survival skills, are the roots of the modern Bushcraft movement. Camping In The Old Style (2000) was a first attempt to define the field of classic/traditional camping and was updated and expanded with a new edition in 2015.
Dave’s work has taken him far above the artic circle and south to the desert beaches along the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, bringing him contact with the amazing people who live and teach the skills he loves. Through his association with BOSS and the SPT, he has been able to rub shoulders with the best and brightest in his field.
Although no longer actively teaching full-time, Dave currently writes, speaks, teaches the occasional contract course. He tells us he has “an endless list of projects that have piled up over the years” still to pursue. It is our great pleasure to have Dave speak at, and contribute more widely to, the the Global Bushcraft Symposium 2022.