Mors Kochanski’s Grand Syllabus Instructor Trainee Program – A Review

Survival, Wilderness Living Skills, Bushcraft

Mors Kochanski’s enthusiasm for wilderness recreation, his extensive knowledge of the field, and his desire to learn everything there is to know about the wilderness has made him one of the foremost authorities on wilderness skills in the world.

And it’s no wonder, he has been an outdoor educator and survival instructor for over 40 years, twenty three of which as a sessional professor for the University of Alberta; a few months of which were at the Canadian Department of National Defense Survival School at Jarvis Lake, Alberta. For many years Mors instructed courses at the Blue Lake Centre run by the Alberta Department of Culture Youth and Recreation, and finally 17 years for School District 59, at Dawson Creek, British Columbia to the benefit of thousands of elementary school children. All the while, this tireless scholar did copious research, freelanced as an instructor, and wrote numerous magazine articles for Alberta Wilderness Arts and Recreation Magazine, various popular aid-memoir booklets and the instantly classic “Northern Bushcraft” (now known as Bushcraft).

Today, if a course or instructor has any solid foundation in modern survival skills or Bushcraft, the odds are that they are likely based on a teaching, a skill, or idea that Mors had some input in developing – whether they know it or not. I state this and have included just a handful of Mors’ outdoor education accomplishments in the above to preface his new book that is published by Karamat Wilderness Ways, cover below.


syllabus – noun – an outline or other brief statement of the main points of a discourse, the subjects of a course of lectures, the contents of a curriculum, etc.

In a time when much of today’s literature is a regurgitation of skills and repackaging of methodology, The Grand Syllabus is as original as Kochanski’s Bushcraft. Those familiar with that book will corroborate with its tested and matter of fact approach. If one didn’t know better, you would swear Bushcraft was written in the early 20th century by one of the Master Woodsmen of yesteryear as it is so timeless and genuine.

Cut from the same cloth of succinct practical and tested information as Bushcraft, The Grand Syllabus is a compilation derived from the four courses (The Introduction of Outdoor Education, Cold Weather Outdoor Living Skills, Warm Weather Outdoor Living Skills and Primitive Pioneering and Natural Crafting) he taught for the Faculty of Physical Education, The University of Alberta, Edmonton for 23 years. Each course was of 80 hours in duration; being ten-8 hour days, thus the syllabus may cover at least 40 days of instruction given over a two year period.

Truly complimentary to the informative material he has already produced such as his classic book BushcraftThe Basic Safe Travel and Boreal Survival Handbook as an eBook, numerous booklets, DVD’s, and various YouTube videos, this syllabus is what Mors would say is a list of specific skills you would need to become a well-rounded instructor. As a whole, it is a compilation of wilderness knowledge and skills of special interest to instructors (at an advanced level). While not intended for the beginner, should they decide to purchase, they will have a longtime reference in which to grow.

Part One of The Grand Syllabus contains a detailed Instructor Competency Outline and Checklist. Important information and considerations are given to Survival and Exposure, the Tools of Survival, and the Tools of Survival Training.

Part Two, Hints to Competent Instruction, offers pertinent advise and hints of the instructor or leader of a group. This includes specific considerations in adverse environments including Mountain Terrain, Snow, Cross Country Skiing, Canoeing, River Crossings, and Conduct around cooking and clothes drying fires. There is also a section on Mors’ thoughts regarding Survival Instructor Certification.

Part Three concludes the eBook with advice and the importance of keeping a logbook on wilderness experiences.

At just over 19,000 words and many sections divided into checklists, it is not a long read. However, the breadth of wilderness skills knowledge Mors shares from his exhaustive research and 40+ years of experience, the Grand Syllabus provides a lifetime of reference (for the professional) as well as a guide map to instructor competence. A must-have for the instructor, would-be instructor, wilderness group leader, and serious student of wilderness living skills or survival.

Available at Karamat Wilderness Ways and Amazon.

About Christian Noble

Chris Noble is the founder of and Woodsmoke Camping Company. A Master Naturalist, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and has worked as a Registered Forester and Certified Burn Manager in several states. Chris is also a Wilderness First Responder and since the late 90’s has been “practicing primitive” skills and taking lessons from numerous Master Woodsmen throughout North America. An advocate for Conservation, teacher of Wilderness Living Skills, and happily married, he enjoys passing what he has learned thus far to others, especially his 2 children, Emerson and Duncan.

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