Mike Ryan

Mike Ryan

Mike Ryan

Mike is one of the few people who has be involved with outdoor education for more than a quarter of a century.  When the world was moving to high tech in the early 80’s Mike recognized the value of nature in one’s life and dedicated his life to sharing nature with others and allowing them to experience this value first hand.

As a young boy Mike was introduced to nature through family camping and fishing trips.  After graduating high school, Mike wanted to see the world and the U.S. Navy provided him this opportunity to broaden his perspective.   His service ended in California where he found a seasonal job working for the Forest Service doing camp ground and trail construction.

As the summer of ’83 wound down, Mike found himself searching for “what next”.  Attracted to the outdoors, he contacted nearly every hunting guide in Montana to see what it would take to become a  hunting guide.  A summer apprenticeship of setting up wall tents for hunting camps, collecting massive amounts of fire wood and scouting the terrain led to a position as a hunting guide for the fall of 1984 and his outdoor education career had begun.

His next step was to write letters to all the outdoor schools listed in the ads of the magazines such as Backpacker and Outside Magazine.  The major schools such as NOLS and Outward bound received inquiry letters as did the newly formed Boulder Outdoor Survival School, also known as BOSS.  BOSS won his attention and dedication and he was introduced to one of the great outdoor educators of those days and still today, Dave Wescot.  Mike had found not only a job he had found a mentor and lifelong friend in Dave Wescott.

Most outdoor education programs of the time were seasonal.  Though Mike’s consistent employment for the next 20 years was with BOSS, he had plenty of opportunity to explore different interests during the offseason and brief hiatuses from BOSS.  Mike has lead a team of youths to Papua New Guinea to build a medical clinic, managed a ranch in Colorado where he drove draft horses for all the haying, instructed at youth wilderness programs – where he and his wife were well known for their camp craft lessons centered around wall tent living and dutch oven cooking – and been camp manager for many primitive skills gatherings and for several film crews shooting documentary type programs in nature.

Mike has also had a few celebrity encounters in his career.  One of the more notable encounters was when he was the head instructor on a course run for the Charlie’s Angels. For three days he led Cameron, Lucy and Drew through the canyons of the Escalante River.  Reports of the excursion indicate that the three had an incredible adventure.  Mike on the other hand had one primary challenge; though quite knowledgable, he is not known for his knowledge of pop culture and had difficulty addressing Drew since he thought her name was Barry Drewmore.

Currently, Mike and his family live year round in their yurt in Boulder, Utah.  Where they have turned a half of an acre of pasture land into the most productive small plot garden and orchard.  They grow a large majority of their produce.  They have become quite expert at bottling food and cold storage methods for preserving food for the winter.    Though they have a small garden and orchard they regularly produce more than their family can consume and they frequently have produce available at the local farmers market.  Mike is active in the local Boy Scouts and frequently leads excursions for the church youth groups.

Mike is a fountain of knowledge in wood craft and outdoor skills.  Desert DAWN is fortunate and honored to include him as part of the instructor team.

Come home to nature, it welcomes you.

Join us at Desert DAWN for a re-awakening of woodcraft skills.    Gain a new perspective and appreciation for the gifts of nature through woodcraft camping skills and a old-school camping experience.

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