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Rabbitstick Primitive Skills Conference

BYU-Idaho Radio · Rabbitstick Primitive Skills Conference

The Rabbitstick Primitive Skills Conference just finished its 35th year.   

Located near Warm Slough in Rexburg, Rabbitstick is an annual camp where people travel from all over the world to learn ancient skills from each other.  

“We bring in some of the top primitive technologists and survival instructors from all over the country and we put on a workshop that lasts for five days,” said David Wescott, founder of Rabbitstick.  

According to, the conference is based on four tenets of primitive skills technology:  

-Teaching technologies common to all cultures 

-Basing their teaching on primitive technologies with roots in the stone age 

-Honoring the traditions of contemporary keepers of ancient ways 

-Celebrating common roots and shared inheritance.  

Joseph Mangiamele is from southwestern Montana, and has been attending Rabbitstick for 18 years.  

“It’s reaching back to our earliest past of humankind and it’s studying cultures of the whole world,” Mangiemele said. “We’re all descendants of hunter gatherers, it’s in all of us, all these skills that people practice here.” 

Throughout camp, attendees visit different tents to learn from instructors as they teach blacksmithing, pottery, hide tanning, you name it.  

Barb Peterson traveled from Alberta, Canada to Rabbitstick for her second year.  

“My first craft was a pair of boots made out of bison hide,” Peterson said. “At this gathering my first craft was making a belt and hand tooling it and that was amazing and since then I’ve made a silver ring and yesterday I made an Appalachian-style broom and we wove our dreams into our broom.” 

Besides practicing ancient skills, people keep coming back for the sense of community.  

“You have some pretty serious bush hippies living from day to day hand and mouth, you have wall street investors,” said Mangiemele. “You have the whole spectrum of the American culture that come here and meet for a week. Everybody gets along, it’s just one big family.” 

To stay up to date for next year’s registration, visit