Our Story

The story of Maine Local Living School is wrapped up in an older and larger story: 

In the 1950's in Buxton, Maine, living on the back acreage of the Reitze family farm, was a close friend, Joseph Muse, an elder from the Mi'Kmaq nation.  The Reitze's young son, Raymond, used any spare time he had to study with "Grandfather Joe." Much of Raymond's childhood was spent with the old man, learning the physical and spiritual life of a people whose life-ways were fast unraveling.

In the 1980's, Chris Knapp was rambling the woods and fields of nearby Gorham, Maine, and escaping to the mountains of western Maine whenever he was permitted. By age 13 he was embarking on eight- and ten-day solo journeys. 

At age 17, Chris returned from a year of wilderness skills and handcraft education in Norway. He caught word of a man named Raymond Reitze teaching wilderness living skills, and volunteered to help him build a traditional Cree lodge near the Canadian border. This was the start of Chris’s six-year apprenticeship with Ray.

Around the same time, a family from Ohio contracted with "Ray Reitze’s Guide Service" to go on a canoe trip in northern Maine. When their guide, Ray, made fire with a bow-drill, a cooler with sphagnum moss, and spoke with tears in his eyes about hunting his first deer, they knew they had found someone special. After the trip, the eldest daughter, Ashirah, received an invitation to spend the summer with Ray and his wife, Nancy. Thus began another multi-year apprenticeship.

Both Chris and Ashirah saw in Ray a teacher and a spiritual guide. He was a man who not only knew how to live from the land, but how to listen to the earth, enter the silence, and live from the heart.

Chris and Ashirah’s time with Ray culminated in a 150-day fall/winter expedition, during which they spent their time trapping, hunting, and living with the forest of northern Maine. They came out of the woods to guide high school students on an upstart semester program created by Kroka Expeditions. Then, shortly thereafter, they began settling on a piece of land in Temple, Maine that would become the teaching homestead of Maine Local Living School. Today, almost 20 years later, the Knapps continue to share skills and life-ways that are an extension of the teachings of Grandfather Ray, Grandfather Joe, and countless others. The homestead, along with the Knapp family, is always growing and changing, and now their two children climb apple and chestnut trees that were planted when the kids were infants.