Workshops and Seminars

Axe Skills Workshop
with Curt Isaacson

Topics will include matching or modifying an axe to fit your needs, what tools pair well with the axe, tips and techniques for safely and effectively using axes from the backyard to the backcountry (including on snow and in cold temperatures), various splitting/bucking/limbing techniques, when to acknowledge the limitations of the axe, how to maintain an axe, where to source quality new and used axes, and more. Feel free to bring along an axe or two, especially if you need some input on tuning it to fit your specific needs. Also, come prepared to share you favorite bit of axe advice! (This workshop is sponsored by Hults Bruk of Sweden, who will be giving away one of their axes at the WCS raffle.)

Snowshoe Lacing- Workshop
with Greg Wilcox

The 2022 winter camping snowshoe lacing class is on and will start on Friday October 21 at 9 am in the main hall. To reserve a spot in the class call 612-861-2262
Cost this year for registered WCS attendees is $135.00 We will need to know size and style of snowshoe kit. Bindings will be available for purchase at the event.
Email Greg

Essential Northwoods Bushcraft and Survival
Kelly Harlton, Jason Gustafson, Ben Piersma

Come on out for the day and learn Essential Northwoods Bush skills with the best in the business!

Topics covered (group skill level and time dependent)


Clothing as your main shelter and always dressing for the coldest weather anticipated. The Super shelter concept and building a lightweight emergency Super shelter.

Essential Fire skills with a Ferrocerium rod using natural materials, Twig bundle, Fatwood, Birch bark and Feather sticks.

Boiling water to meet your hydration needs as well as using balsam fir, wintergreen, chaga etc. to make bush tea.

Bucksaw build. Each student will be provided with a 24" saw blade and cordage to build a bucksaw out of a sapling. Safe knife, axe and saw use will be covered throughout the day during the projects.

Student Requirements:

Dressed to be working outdoors all day.

Food and drinks for yourself.

Folding chair if wanted.

Knife and Ferrocerium rod ( Mora knives and Ferrocerium Rods with be available for sale)

Cost 100.00

15 students max. Email to reserve your spot!

Rigging Your Tarp Demo

With Dan Cooke

Does your rainfly flap in the wind? Have you ever wanted to leave the tent behind and sleep in a tarp shelter? Dan Cooke, of Cooke Custom Sewing, will show a variety of ways you can utilize a tarp to better enjoy your wilderness adventure. He’ll demonstrate various rigging methods, suggest some creative ideas to common challenges and show the best knots for setting up a stormproof shelter for winter or summer.

Winter Photography

with Mark Morgen

What do you do when the fish aren't biting, and you are surrounded by miles of wilderness? Why, pull out that camera and start taking pictures! Winter photography can be challenging, humbling, exciting, and great fun. Operating a camera system in the winter can be very frustrating, but you can learn the tricks of the trade on keeping warm, keeping your gear functioning, and taking great photographs during that epic winter camping adventure, or around home.

Winter Camping Stories

With Rhonda Reynolds

Gather around the figurative woodstove and share YOUR stories and experiences winter camping. If you have been doing it for any length of time, you've certainly experienced the amazing, scary, fantastic and maybe even some "Oh sh*t" moments. It can be car camping, base camping or wilderness trekking. Please don't feel as if you have to tell a story that involves a winter solo 5 month unsupported Arctic traverse with only a spoon and a roll of toilet paper. Even if you have no stories of your own, come and listen to a good story. As a teaser I can share some of one of my first solo trips involving falling throught the ice, getting stuck in overflow and saving the life of a XC skier I met on the last night of the trip. As an added attraction, some of the stories might even be true...!

Simple Moravian Chairs Workshop

With Roger Pilsner

I know you young pups might laugh at me, but sometimes I just gotta sit down on a sturdy chair. Those typical folding metal/canvas chairs are the rage, until the second time you use them and they break. No worries, just go buy another one. Now it is my turn to laugh at you. I have been making camp chairs for a long, long time. I am fairly confident they are all still in use today. All that modern engineering and materials have not improved on the simple Moravian chair concept. Usually, they are assembled to be permanent, but with some creative idea, they can also be disassembled for easier transportation. The top is made from 4 boards and no glue or fasteners. Even simpler is the one-piece top of thicker material. 4 Wooden legs with tapered ends. So, this is the project for this year.

I will bring most of the materials necessary, and some of the tools. If you have tools please bring them, hell bring the entire shop. Actually a few simple tools will work just fine.

1. Hand saw – any kind will work

2. Sharp knife for whittling

3. Spoke shave would be excellent but not necessary

4. Draw knife if you got one

5. Pencil

6. Drill with a ¾” and 1” bit. Hand brace actually works better than electric.

7. Sharp hatchet, smaller the better. We are not chopping down trees.

8. Sandpaper, course to fine. Don’t get carried away.

I will bring the materials for the top and legs. If you have any hardwood branches that would work for the legs, please bring them. They must be greater than 1 ½” but not much larger than 2” in diameter. Length 16”-20”. Species: Oak, Ash, Elm, Hickory, Hard Maple, Osage, Hawthorn, etc... Hop-Hornbeam is the best of all, and it grows everywhere in the Midwest like a weed. Loggers will pay you to get rid of it, go figure.

Hop-Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) is the correct name. Not ironwood, musclewood, or what ever you have been calling it. The slang names can be confusing because there is a wood properly identified as Ironwood but it does not grow in USA.

Cost: Free, donations, refreshments, take pictures

Time: All day Friday and Saturday. Come and go as you please.

Where: In the Hanson Lodge, by the fireplace.

Questions: Contact Roger Pilsner, 715-428-2329 or

Insulated Water Bottle Sleeve Workshop
With Jonathan Maruska

Cost: Free

Skill Level: Beginner

Time: Approximately 2 hours

Participants: 8 Max (more can come to watch and copy the patterns)

Provided: Patterns & Instructions

Students Bring: Tested sewing machine & sewing tools

Extension cord

~16” x ~30” Fleece or wool fabric

~16” x 16” light or medium nylon fabric

~24” Cord

1 Cordlock

Paper or Cardboard if you want to copy the pattern

Description: In this workshop students will cut and sew simple, customizable insulated water bottle

sleeves. Even beginner-level sewers should be able to easily complete this project

within two hours. Skills learned can be applied to creating many other stuff sack style

bags. Space is limited so the first 8 people to respond will reserve a spot. If the class

fills up, others are welcome to stop by to watch and copy the patterns.

Register: Email

Screen Print Class
With Leigh and Amy Hunter

Are you tired of mass produced, corporate controlled, elitist trophy t-shirts? Well here’s your chance to screen print like an amature, and impress your friends! We are excited to unveil our unique, and exclusive Winter Camping themed t-shirt design, that you can print on a shirt you bring from home. We’ll have a short presentation on the process, and then get busy making fabric memories.

Come join us for a fun workshop, and leave with the satisfaction of making something that you can someday throw in a laundry hamper. I know what you all must be thinking right now, but no, there will be no charge for this workshop. We are, however, suggesting a $5 donation to cover paint costs (kids print for free). You can drop off your shirt, and we’ll print it for you, if you're busy attending a class with actual camping content!

Each participant needs to bring;

100% cotton T-shirt/Hoodie (cotton blend will work) any color.

A willingness to have fun.

Patience to wait for paint to dry.

Adventures of a Wilderness Guide
Pam Wright

Come hear tales from a female guide who has lead wilderness canoe trips, winter camping adventures as well as numerous backpacking treks throughout the US. Hear about the highs and lows of her adventures as she endeavors to create incredible experiences for those she leads


With Warren Peterson

Making an Antler Handle Knife Participants will learn to assemble a small blade into an antler handle as well as stitch together a sheath that will hang around the neck and will be provided information on sources for knife blades, leather, and tools required to make knives on their own. All materials are provided by the instructor. Cost is $50.00 per person. Contact Warren prior to Symposium if interested in taking this workshop. Warren M. Peterson, cell # 715-314-0797, email:

Winter Camping with Kids:
Ryan Fox

Got kids? Want to bring them out to camp at -20F? WE can help with that. Ryan will discuss how to keep your children warm, entertained and excited for the next adventure. Topics of discussion will include, food, sleeping bags, clothing, games (things to do), places to camp, and more. Teaching the next generation our skills keeps the tradition alive!

Forging Demos by SUBTLE FORGE

Paige and Jamiah will be back as vendors, but will also be running forge demos all weekend.

Traditionally knife makers would work together allowing each maker to perfect their craft. The smith would forge the blade and then pass it on to the handle maker and then on to the sheath sewer, this was not always the case but it was a very effective system. While Jamiah does follow the more modern approach of making the entire knife he also participates in the old tradition with fellow knife maker and close friend Paige May over at Wilderness Effects. Jamiah forges and grinds the blades and then Paige finishes the process by creating excellent traditional scandinavian style handles and sheaths.

Pull Your Own Weight; Toboggan 101:
With Ryan Fox

If you are thinking about moving your Winter Camping experience to the backcountry and want to start pulling a toboggan or pulke, this is the class for you. Ryan will discuss methods, equipment, loading, physical challenges, training, and many other topics. Question and Answer segment at the end of the presentation.

Winter Hammock Camping

Karla “with a k”

If sleeping on the ground doesn't provide you with a solid night's sleep, then you should try hammock camping! Or if you are curious about sleeping in a hammock and how we keep warm, then you should join us!

Come and speak with Karla "with a k" who will have a bridge style hammock and a gathered end hammock on display. There will also be a hammock hot tent available to view.

We'll talk about the four basic components of a hammock sleeping system and answer questions you have about this specific style of camping.

Feel free to bring a chair and a hot drink in hand.

This class will meet under the basketball hoop by the rec field and then proceed into the pines.

Tips and Tricks For Your First Trips
With Joe Stromski

This class will explore techniques to make a beginner's first forays into the field a bit smoother. A wide ranging discussion about how to execute a typical novice weekend trip. While aimed at newbies, even old hands may find something new and useful.

Winter Camping Close to Home
With Duane, Margo and Jonah Lottig

Margot and Duane will focus on camping on county forest land, primarily Douglas County Forest because that is what we know very well. Jonah will focus on state parks and state land. He and his family have been on a multiyear project camping in every WI state park. They are very close to being finished and he’ll be giving insight on what state parks are plowed and open in the winter.

You don’t have to plan a multi day trip to a winter camping destination such as the Boundary Waters but you can also find great week(end) getaways close to home that get you out to enjoy winter camping.

Camp Cookware Materials
With Pete Brautigam

Have you ever wondered why we have titanium, aluminum and steel cookware? In this class we will demonstrate and explain the benefits and drawbacks for each material to cook with. After this class you'll have a better understanding of how each material works and which one to choose for baking, boiling, searing, etc. while winter camping.

Outfitting for an Expedition at 40 Below:
With Nick Gordon

Join Nick Gordon, lead guide and owner of NOW Outdoors

for a talk on outfitting for a winter expedition. In order to fully embrace the cold and deep snow of the north, he uses specialized equipment both traditional and modern. Nick will share insights on clothing and gear considerations necessary for extended winter excursions.

UHMW Toboggan Workshop:
With Nick Gordon

If you want to travel farther and stay longer this season, a trail toboggan is a great tool for hauling the gear necessary for extended treks. Join Nick Gordon of NOW Outdoors on Sunday morning to build your very own 7 or 9 foot UHMW toboggan just in time for winter. We will blend modern materials with traditional design to create a means of moving your winter camp with ease. When class is over, these toboggans can be easily rolled up to fit inside your vehicle. This course includes all materials and hardware.

Fee: (7 Foot $260) (9 Foot $300)

Space is extremely limited. Reserve your spot by emailing us at

Complete Ripoff: Making Outerwear Patterns from Street Clothing With Kevin Kinney

60 minutes. Free. RSVP empirecanvas@charternet

Let's demystify the ancient black arts of pattern making. Instructor Kevin Kinney from Empire Wool and Canvas Company will teach you basic steps for replicating your wardrobe, and tweaking patterns for sewing your own outdoor clothing.

Please bring: Pattern/craft paper, tape rule, markers or pencils, masking tape, ruler or yardstick, and a good-fitting shirt and pants to use as a guide.

Tastes Like the Wild
With Andy Wright

Tastes Like the Wild: Foraging For the Winter Camper

Deepen your wilderness eating experience! In this class you’ll learn about regional wild edibles and how to ID and ethically gather them. We’ll also cover ideas on how to optimize them for winter camp meals… and yeah: There will be [limited] samples—woo hoo! A foraging hike may also follow, conditions permitting.

Let’s talk all things Winter Camping in the BWCA!
With Earl Swenson

Winters coming fast and you want to be ready! Make this the first year you go or the year you go back! We’ll talk when to go, where to go, where to camp, travel tips, tips for staying warm and more. Bring your own experiences and share them as well.

With Michael Neiger

This presentation will cover some tactics and strategies for negotiating river and lake ice more safely on snowshoes and skis in the far north. Included in this high-quality powerpoint will be a discussion of ice thickness, strong v weak ice, always using caution, traveling on ice, self-rescue protocols, ice-rescue picks, how to make and use an ice probe (a long probe with sounder for dangerous hollow ice on one end, and chipper for weak, thin, ice on the other end), roping-up, deicing kit, and partner-assisted rescue protocols.

Crossing The Height of Land Film
With Michael Neiger

This 16-minute film by Chris Ozminski documents a dead-of-winter expedition led by Michael Neiger down the Oba River, an Arctic Watershed River deep in the Canadian bush. Insertion and extraction were via a remote Canadian bush train, and the route included crossing the height of land on the continental divide between the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean watersheds.

With Michael Neiger

This presentation will cover a discussion and hands-on demonstration of extreme-cold-weather kit used by the presenter on his dead-of-winter expeditions to the Arctic Ocean with no auxiliary heat, just body heat. Custom gear demos will include an expedition grade cargo sledge with fixed X-traces for control and steerage in steep, tangled, semi-mountainous terrain (no rollovers, no snagging, no overrunning), deicing kit, over-parkas, over-pants, special forces rip-off polypro pants, wind parka, wind pants, tunnel hoods, fur ruffs, custom mukluks, custom mitten system, mitten retention rig, ice rescue picks, ice probe (sounder and chipper), sledge belay/haul rope rig, on-person survival kit, perpetual alcohol stove, stove/fire pan with snow floats, high-float snowshoes, quick speed-lacing mukluk bindings, snow-block-compatible shovel, etc.

Fur Trapping
With Jerry Ward

Course Itinerary:

-basic survival trapping theory

-trap set location and basic animal signs of the boreal forest

-trapping devices/methods

-wire snare demo and hands-on student participation

-cable snare demo

-#110 Conibear demo

-after the harvest game prep and signs of zoonosis

Backcountry Winter Angling
With James Bishop

This class is for the back country winter angler looking for lake trout, brook trout, walleye and northern pike. Instructor provides suggestions on where to target these fish on a typical boundary waters lake. Emphasis too on light weight gear such as rod-reels, tip ups and augers, clothing and other essentials to catch fish and enjoy doing it while on the trail in temps that can range from 40 above to 40 below. And then a few tips on how to prepare them in camp.

Be a Better Camping Buddy
Karla with a "K"

Learn how to get along better with others in your camping party by getting to know your own personality type. You’ll take the Myers-Briggs personality assessment and learn what really drives, inspires, and worries different personalities helping you build more meaningful relationships.

We’ll discuss the Five Personality Aspects and where you sit on the scale for each aspect. The information in this session is meant to inspire personal growth, an improved understanding of self, and your relationships – not to be taken as gospel. Friends and partners are strongly encouraged to attend together. Bring a writing utensil.

Waxing Poetic on Winter Camping in the BWCAW
With Peta Barrett

Peta Barrett with WOMEN’S WILDERNESS DISCOVERY presents…

‘Waxing Poetic on Winter Camping in the BWCAW’

· Power Point presentation on how WWD does winter camping

· Not just professional wilderness guides…Teachers on trail

· Q & A session: let’s hear from you concerning those unknowns you’ve been pondering, before you can even consider such a unique experience in the frozen wilderness

· Follow up ‘workshop session’ at Peta’s tent on a second day, for one-on-one instruction: 1) map & compass navigation, 2) requisite quick-release knots to make your camping life easier (especially in the cold)

Alone In the Wilderness - Jason's Story
By Jeff Hasse

Learn how an intelligent young man doing relatively reasonable things at the time found himself lost in the wilderness and struggling to survive. His story of survival against incredible odds highlights important lessons for anyone venturing in the wilderness.

Physics of Staying Warm

By Jeff Hasse

The human body has a number of mechanisms it uses to regulate its internal temperature within narrow limits. This course will explore how the body regulates heat and how one can control heat loss and be comfortable in any outdoor environment.