Having an extensive background in survival skills has transferred nicely to the classroom as every year the students learn about the indigenous tribes of Maine and North America. We get outside and work on skills like fire by friction and shelter building. We practiced both bow drill and hand drill, two of the most common fire making techniques of the Natives from our area. The kids not only gained a tremendous appreciation for "primitive" technologies, they had such a greater appreciation of the ease with which we use fire in our own lives.
The kids studied Wabanaki culture, but also the Wampanoags of Thanksgiving fame. They gathered grasses, made their own mats and created a wetu shelter in the middle of the schoolhouse. It was the coveted place for reading time, that's for sure.
Studying Natives of any culture is incredibly appealing to children from all walks of life. Rather than only read about it and look at pictures in a textbook, it is an easy way to work outdoors and do hands-on skills. Over the years we have done skin sewing, rawhide rattle making, soapstone carving, shelter building, basket weaving and fire making. The kids have such a deeper understanding of what life was like for early peoples and a much better retention of the details often lost through rote memorization or pencil and paper testing.