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Rabbitstick Primitive Skills Conference

Session 35

September 10-16, 2023

It’s Time To Gather !

What is the difference between a session and conference ?

They are similar, and can mean the same thing.

Both have the same meaning, which is a meeting.

However, 'conference' is a more formal formatted meeting, like for a business conference. Whereas a 'session' can be both formal and informal.


Welcome to Rabbitstick - Session 35


         • Top-fuel drag races are conducted in “sessions”.

         • Surf and skate competitions are contested in 10-12 wave “sessions”.

         • Schools offering a schedule of classes are in “session”.

         • Back in the old days when Larry Olsen would host events at his house to eat and  

                    barter, he called the gatherings “trade sessions.”


By launching our 36th trip around the sun, we want to restate what makes Rabbitstick unique. Every similar event – there are over 40 worldwide now – has it’s own personality, focus, vibe or joie de vivre* if you will. Take a minute to review a few of the suggestions that have been offered (at the end of this letter), and how we plan to respond to concerns about camp as we “Return to The Stone Age”.


• Rabbitstick is festive, but it’s NOT a festival.

• Rabbitstick is family friendly, but we take teaching and learning seriously.

• Rabbitstick is a gathering, but the sum of all of its’ parts make it more than that.

• Rabbitstick is….well, it’s Rabbitstick.


*For those without access to Google - joie de vivre  - exuberant enjoyment of life.


That being said, there is plenty of available information about the history of Rabbitstick, it’s roots, development and attempt to maintain focus on skills that we all share. We need everyone to help keep Rabbitstick what it has come to represent and maybe cache your expectations for a while in an attempt to protect its unique character. We challenge everyone to join us as we create a camp that recaptures an earlier, simpler time, and revel in this opportunity to experience something new.

Last year showed a few wrinkles that we had not seen before – people bringing with them what they may have experienced somewhere else. We need you to help us return to a camp that reflects what we were originally influenced by - keep that in mind as you plan and prepare your camp for Rabbitstick 35.

NOTICE  - New for 2023

• Hopefully, we will return to normal registration patterns. We have moved the early registration deadline to August 1 and increased the cancellation fee to $100 – all events are experiencing unprecedented last-minute cancellations. Plan before you sign-up or it will cost you. If you are returning to Rabbitstick, we encourage you not to wait to register; there is a possibility that we will close registration early again this year. Our goal is to maintain a healthy balance of returning people with those who are attending for the first time. Returning participants are the way that traditions are passed along and not lost over time.


• Update for our Trailer Campers for 2023

Trailers, motorhomes, etc. need to camp on the north side of the entry road.

No noisy external generators in camp please.

Trailer folks need to establish fair rules for when quiet generators can be run and for how long.  We are not a KOA campground.

Try to make trailers self-contained with extra batteries and solar charges if possible.

No external electric lights or bright Coleman lanterns please. Learn to enjoy the dark.


Suggestions  from the Camp

(Go to 2023 Updates at to read some other letters to our camp).


“Hey Dave, I hope all is well with you folks. I wanted to follow up on a suggestion that I had last year - that being; to try and encourage people to create creative, cool, campsites. My first Rabbitstick there were many camps that were amazingly picturesque. I think that was a time of Trench Town with Hawk and Albert and some of those larger than life people.

Today [it seems] that pop-up tents are taking over and huge buses are blocking the view. It would be great to encourage and recognize [traditional] camps.”


“Greetings Everyone. As we gather in the spirit of a by gone era of light during the day and dark at night, we have noticed a gradual and steady influx of bright lanterns, head lamps and flashlights.  These deprive us of some of the unique qualities that nighttime has to offer us.

In the interest of offering each other the gifts of nighttime, we encourage minimal use of modern lights in general, and non-use in the heart of camp/main fire pit, (between road and pond, tipi, Backtracks office and kitchen).  This area is reserved for fire light, candle light and low intensity single flame lanterns only, no porch lights broadcasting light beyond the inside of a shelter.”


“Hello the Camp - What happened to the good old days when people were worried that running a CPAP machine at night would bother other people. Where in the world did those load generators, amplified music and bright lights that have invaded the camp come from?  We come to study the old ways and learn skills from our collective past. Shouldn’t our camp reflect that sort of feeling as well.”


“Dear Dave- Being a knapper and tanner, I have always been fascinated by process and the skills that have been passed down through time. Rabbitstick has always been the one place I can meet friends with common interests and learn something new every time I come.   I have noticed, however, that many people are now choosing classes with quick projects rather than taking deep-dives into the skills that are the reason we all gather. Trends toward ‘prepping’ and ‘SELF-awareness’ have added a new layer to class offerings, but I hope not at a loss of those core skills that have been a part of Rabbitstick from the start.”


Please reflect on why you plan to join us and come with an openness to the total experience.  We’re getting excited. September 10, 2023 is shaping up to be another….



David and Paula and the Backtracks Staff



PS – We will be offering a legacy class in honor of Steve Watts - Aboriginal Tech 101. It will be an event involving a variety of staff presentations - You'll spend the morning in the woods and fields ... emerging by lunchtime with a Lower Paleolithic tool kit: a smasher, a basher, a cutter a slicer, a binder, a holder, a stabber a digger, a snack and a song.

• We are also hosting a Survival Roundtable to hash-out a standard curriculum that anyone can access, following their own path to becoming competent in handling common wilderness emergency episodes. We will review a variety of contemporary strategies and best practices, generating a program that anyone can pursue while attending Rabbitstick or engaging qualified  instructors they meet while here. Come join us for an interesting discussion.


• Stay tuned for more information about The Year of The Hat and Alice Tulloch’s 10 Item Rabbitstick Primitive Challenge as it becomes available.


See ya’ll soon enough!

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