Slickrock Gathering

The Slickrock Gathering is an annual event that brings the best primitive skills specialists to BOSS for one week each spring. During this week, students enroll in a specific course – called a Pathway – to learn that skill from start to finish, in depth, under truly expert guidance. The 2017 gathering will be held from May 14-20.

About the Course

There are a handful of primitive technology or traditional skills gatherings around the world where people come together to teach and learn. At almost all of these, classes are short (usually several hours) and students attend one or two classes per day. This creates a learning experience that, while worthwhile, is by design limited. Short courses must focus on a very narrow aspect of a skill, something that can be taught and learned in only a few hours. At BOSS, we believe students are better served if a class teaches a skill in its entirety and places it within its context in the natural world.

At the Slickrock Gathering, BOSS offers distinct Pathways for students to study a skill in depth under the expert guidance and supervision of a master teacher.  The instructors at Slickrock are the most expert you will find at any gathering.  Many of the instructors at other gatherings are the students of these teachers.  This is a unique opportunity to spend a whole week with these individuals.

About BOSS

Since 1968, BOSS courses have set the standard for low-technology camping and 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.

At the Slickrock Gathering, BOSS offers distinct “Pathways” for learning, giving you the opportunity to focus on a specific interest under the guidance of expert instruction. Our hope is that this makes your time with us more valuable, as you can truly learn something in depth during your week. Pathways are “A to Z” in nature, offering a complete course in each subject from start to finish. Each student is able to collect the raw materials (when feasible), process them into finished materials and then produce usable tools, clothing or food by the end of the Pathway.

For example, on the Pottery Pathway, we don’t just teach you how to shape a piece of clay into a pot… We harvest the clay from the earth together, cleanse it of impurities, add temper, shape it, and then, finally, fire it. The result is more than just a beautifully tanned hide or fired pot but a complete picture of the skill and the ability to achieve mastery.

There are no prerequisites for a Pathway other than the desire to be completely immersed in the process during the Gathering. Pathways will change over the years, offering you the opportunity to refine and build on your skills – so we hope you will keep coming back for this event.

2017 Pathways

There’s more info to come, and we’ll may add more pathways as the gathering approaches, so keep checking back!


Medicine at our feet: embracing plants as allies in health and healing

Instructor: Constance Lynn
Class Limit: TBD

In this class we will connect with plants as allies, teachers and medicine. We have co-evolved with plants…and their medicine offers us a direct relationship with Earth as well as the invisible realms where the mystery of healing begins. Plant medicine provides us with optimum wellness on a daily basis as well as deep healing when illness or disease arises.

In this pathway, each day will include time with desert, mountain and garden environments, communicating with plants through ceremony, meditation and offerings. Direct experience of making remedies from plants will include the art and ethics of collecting, as well as, preparing infusions, decoctions, poultices, tooth powder, salves and tinctures. Students will go home with the remedies they prepare as well as foundational knowledge of relating with plants as allies and medicine.


Or what to do with the fiber from my shorn animal

Instructor: Sara McCourt
Class Limit: 6

Do you have a fiber animal, or a friend has gifted you some fiber after shearing? Now what? How do you get from that dirty mess full of veggie matter to something usable? This class is designed to help you along that journey.

Each day will include hands on spinning and demonstrations about wool and wool processing, including; skirting, washing, flicking, teasing, carding and combing wool. Participants will learn to spin and ply on a drop spindle. They will also learn how to skein and finish yarn for use in future projects. If time allows in class there will also be a natural dye day.


Instructor: John Olsen
Class Limit: TBD

Yucca has been and continues to be an important resource for medicinal and non-medicinal purposes. Its strong fibers have many traditional uses. In this pathway, you’ll learn the properties of yucca and how to work with it – including collection, retting and cordage. Students will use the cordage for projects including traditional sandals and baskets using various warp weaves and plaits. John Olsen has taught at every Slickrock since we started. He has over 40 years in the study of prehistoric pottery and traditional skills.  John’s sandals expertly reproduce the techniques and styles used thousands of years ago.


Instructor: Delmar Williams
Class Limit: TBD

The hunting pathway introduces knowledge and skills necessary for effective hunting.
Delmar Williams is a certified hunt guide who works as a Big Game Hunt Guide in British Columbia. He’s from the Squamish and Lil’wat Nation and combines his knowledge of traditional and primitive techniques with modern hunting methods. The class will include games and exercises to learn how to recognize good hunting areas and how to find and stalk your prey and set up your shot. The class may spend a night in the field. If you have modern or traditional/primitive bow and arrows please bring them.

You may also wish to purchase a hunting license.  Utah residents are $34-$38 and non-residents are $65-$85.

Evening Entertainment

Evenings provide many opportunities for music, storytelling, trade-blankets, games and other activities. We encourage people to bring instruments, trade items, and unique talents to the Gathering.

Meals and Lodging

The tuition for the Slickrock Gathering includes two meals per day (breakfast and dinner) and the freedom to set up a camp on BOSS’s 40 acres of property. Please note that there are some guidelines for where you can and cannot set up your tent and what type of camping is permissible – no RV campers are allowed on the property. For those with RVs, water & electricity hook-ups are available at an RV parking lot just a few minutes walk from the property (additional fee required). If you have questions or concerns not addressed here, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.