Donna---The main thing I try and ingrain within the participants brains is to have a legitimate reason for each and every piece of gear. This prinicple alone saves pounds and pounds within the packs of most participants. After the adoption of this principle, we being the replacement of all items in the pack with ligher items. If a replacement requires a new skill to use, then we discuss it and practice until proficient. This takes longer than one would expect, as what I think the hardest skill to learn by far is tarp pitching.
Everyone who finishes my course is capable of carrying a sub 10 pound pack in typical 3 season conditions without extra training. Further refinements will require more research on their own and also have not been firmly established as solid, working ultralight techinques.
Solid Working, Easy to master technique---Pitching 8X10 tarp
Advanced Skill---Poncho tarp camping WITHOUT bivy
The participants bring minimal personal gear. We construct tarps and packs with duct tape and 3 mil plastic at the parking lot. Participants are thrown out of there comfort zone immediately and are forced to use a gear kit that often weighs 30 pounds less than they are used to. The course gives a steep learning curve to ultralight techniques. I try and choose weekends of expected rain(using dryday.com), to maximize participants trust in the system they are using to stay comfortable which was constructed by their own hands out of minimal materials.
Two nights of this sort of activity requires hands on instruction, as some might need to pitch a tarp 20 times before getting the hang of it. I am with the group at all times to assist, and they usually need it. The group is using anywhere from 15-20 completely brandnew techniques that require a huge mental shift. Around evening the second day, we return to the cars to enable the participants to take any items they wish from their old packs. By this time however, the paradigm has been shifted, and very few, if any items, are added to the participants packs.
This single step reiforces the participant's confidence in gear decisions as they now have the option of preparing, with the addition of their old gear, for a night out in the woods.
I may not be around in the future, but the participants have already made the first, and hardest step to an ulralight way of thinking. The course gives me the opportunity to oversee this step, which results in success for the participants and does not allow them to make incorrect decisions that may result in ultralight failure.