Each September, hundreds of people gather in a wooded area outside Rexburg, Idaho, to rediscover their "stone age" heritage. They work with primitive tools, learn to build fire by rubbing sticks together, and participate in a rigorous assortment of classes designed to teach them some of the 'lost' arts.
It's called "Rabbitstick," after the aboriginal tool that requires a certain primitive knowledge base to master. The organizer of the week-long event, Dave Wescott, calls it the largest gathering of primitive technologists in the country.
"There's not a lot of look-see. It's a lot of hands-on," says Wescott. "And to me that's critical because you don't own a skill until you've done it; and when you've taught it to someone else, you can really call it your own."
"This totally changes people's lives," says Montana resident Lynx, a regular participant at Rabbitstick. "This is as close to a family reunion as I have. It's a remarkable special thing. People come from all walks of life, but we all have this one thing in common; and it's very powerful and special. Maybe we're all the black sheep of our own families, and this is the safest family we can be ourselves in."
Dave Wescott has spent most of his adult life as a licensed outfitter; and he's not surprised about all the talk of "family." "For some reason this stuff has made them different," he says. "I wanted to be Tarzan and an Indian until I figured out it wasn't going to happen. None of my family did that. I come here and connect with people who had the same experiences and thought processes as me. They are family."
Steve Watts travels from North Carolina each year to attend Rabbitstick. He's the president of the Society of Primitive Technology, an international organization. "To me it's about rediscovering our stone age heritage which we all share," he says. "Otherwise, it's just arts and crafts. Whatever I teach I try to put it into some historical anthropological context. The idea is to try to literally touch your own heritage. There are several other gatherings like this across the country, but this is sort of the Mother Church. This is where you'll get some of the best instructors in one place. It's the place to come."