A high school senior kneels in the forest duff, grasping a handmade bow. He moves his arm back and forth, and a high-pitched squeaking sound ricochets through the woods.

Eight-year-old Asher Wool stands a few feet away. He explains what this teenager is up to.

"So, he's rubbing the string against the spindle to make a coal that can make a fire," Asher says.

No matches. No crumpled newspaper. The teenager has worked for years to develop the skill of building a friction fire here at Earthwork, a wilderness school located in western Massachusetts.

"We work with knives, we work with fire, we work with saws, we fell trees, we build shelters, we track animals," says director Frank Grindrod, who founded Earthwork more than 20 years ago.

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