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Ancestral Storytelling

Are you a natural raconteur? Do you enjoy reading stories of Grandfather or other sages who teach lessons through carefully crafted parables? Perhaps you've always admired the art of the well-told tale and hoped to develop that skill within you. BOSS's Ancestral Storytelling course is the perfect place to blend your love of nature and wisdom traditions with the art and science of telling captivating stories.

About the Course

"If you don't know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don't know the stories you may be lost in life."

- Siberian Proverb                           

Many native cultures around the world speak of elder figures and the stories they tell around the campfire. Through these stories, cultural history is passed on. The Chugach Inuit teach their children to respect Nunam-shua, the One Who Lives Within the Earth. The Gunwinggu people of Australia’s West Arnhem Land listen to the Rainbow Serpent as she warns them of bad river conditions and areas subject to monsoon flooding.  Awi Usdi (Little Deer) reminds the Cherokee people to take game only when there is a true need for food and clothing.  For ages, people have used stories to guide them through the land, the spirit world and the human condition.

The BOSS Ancestral Storytelling course explores the world of traditional stories and how they are reflective of a people and the landscape they inhabit. Traditional and non-traditional stories will be shared and students will learn the art of telling their own stories. Using story to identify major geographical landmarks, ancient ruins, and other distinguishing features around them, students will navigate through the land without map or compass. The stories told will also help to identify edible and poisonous plants, and to understand the lessons of the animals that share the landscape. Nights will be filled with the camaraderie of stories told around the campfire and the magic and mystery of star stories. Drawing on the panoramic beauty of the desert environment and the primitive skills experience, students will enter into the powerful world of storytelling.

About BOSS

Since 1968, BOSS Courses have set the standard for low-technology camping and desert hiking techniques, where instruction is conducted with minimal intrusion of modern technology in environments that allow course content to be experienced first-hand. Our commitment to quality and to our core philosophies has earned BOSS its reputation as the survival school to go to when you want to learn from the best in the industry.

Less is More

In line with the BOSS Positive Impact Camping philosophy, the Ancestral Storytelling course has a decided emphasis on using renewable, natural resources. Tents, sleeping bags, stoves, backpacks and many other "required" pieces of outdoor equipment are replaced with their low-tech counterparts: a poncho, a blanket, a campfire. The motto here is "Know more, Carry less" and we'll explore how traditional cultures lived comfortably without all the modern gadgets like watches, radios, cellphones,etc (which are not allowed). Come learn how back-country travel can be a less intrusive and more harmonious experience.

Course Location

This course will travel throughout the Escalante River’s canyon system near Boulder, Utah. Elevations in this region vary from 4,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level.

Learning by Doing

At BOSS, we strongly believe in learning by doing. While at times instruction will be done in lecture format (of course, as this is a storytelling course) it will be done in the field where students can see what they are learning in situ and can practice their skills in a natural environment. BOSS course enrollment is designed to provide each course with a student-teacher ratio conducive to hands-on instruction. Our courses typically have 9-12 students and 3 staff. This ensures that our staff are available to students to help guide them through the lessons as needed or sought.

Course Content


Orientation Welcome to BOSS, gear review & purchase.
Group Expedition Learn some of the BOSS basics: shelter construction, water location, and knife use and safety. Storytelling workshops will be presented throughout this part of the course. The group will travel aided only by the stories of the land.  Students will be hearing and telling stories as well as learning plants, animals, stars, and observing ancestral sites. The Ancestral Story will be told throughout this phase to prepare participants for the next phase.
Ancestral Journey This is where students learn the true importance of oral tradition, when each person will begin the Ancestral Journey – traveling without the instructors. The group will rely totally on memory of the Ancestral Story to guide themselves to their destination.    
Celebration/Graduation You've earned it.


Please note: Because each course is different and will experience different combinations of weather patterns, student abilities, and ground conditions, phases may be adjusted before or during a course.

Health and Safety

BOSS requires that all Explorer course applicants undergo a complete physical examination and receive their physician's approval in writing prior to final acceptance on the course.

Please keep in mind, despite your physician's approval and BOSS's acceptance of you on the course, there are no guarantees.  Health and participation risks (inherent and otherwise) remain. It's up to you and your physician to determine if a BOSS course is an appropriate choice. All participants must be aware of these risks and embrace them. For more information, please select "Learn More" under Health and Safety in the column to the right.


The key to a successful course is a student's maturity and his or her interest in learning in a skills-intensive environment. Students younger than 18 must be physically and mentally mature enough to handle a course of this nature, and must also come with a parent or guardian.

Food and Diet

All students are provided with BOSS food packs that provide a student with approximately 1500-2000 calories per day — enough to keep you healthy and active for the duration of the course. Students who wish to supplement their diet with wild edibles may do so in a responsible manner and only with instructor permission. Students with allergies or dietary restrictions should contact our office. For more information, please select "Learn More" under Food and Diet in the column to the right.

Dates and Prices

Course dates, prices, and availability are listed to the right, at the top of the page.  You can also download our complete course calendar in Adobe Acrobat PDF by clicking here. If you have any questions, please submit them via the Contact BOSS page or call us at 800.335.7404 or 435.335.7404.