Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Brushing Up On Bushcraft Skills

This week I've been asked to do a bit of unusual work. 

Carrying some willow for cooking sticks

I've been asked to teach a two hour bush craft lesson to a group of exchange students.

It's pretty short notice but I think it'll be fun so I said yes. Another advantage is I can take my own children along with me so don't need to sort childcare.

One thing I have thought it I should practice some skills as it's been a while since I've done much bushcraft other than things I do day to day that keep certain skills there (axe and knife work for example).

My eldest making damper bread ready for the fire
Before my wife and I had children I used to into bush craft in a big way. Inspired by Ray Mears my brother and I would go out camping on the farm, fishing or hunting and try to practice skills. Then during our 20's and onwards we've been on lots of courses together, one in Scotland was a 5 day "extreme" one in the highlands. I should do a post on it one day as I have some great pictures and memories from it.


My plan for the lesson is to gauge the kids first and see how full of beans they are. If they're hyper then maybe some games to calm them down then go into some fire lighting. I have ferro rods and strikers as some simple fire skills. I'll have some tinder and other bits as well so they can practice getting sparks to catch as well as char cloth to make things easier.


Then I have some willow rods they can strip the bark from and get ready for cooking with. I'll get them all making some damper bread with flour and milk, with a bit of sugar for sweetness. I practised this tonight with my own children, they loved it, although I'm not sure how edible the bread was by the end!


One thing I really want to demonstrate is friction fire lighting. It has been years since  I last did this so I decided to set about getting myself a kit ready to be able to show this skill off. 


I'd forgotten just how tricky it is! It took me ages to find the right wood that was hard and dry enough. It also took me a good few attempts as well. When I finally got a good enough baseboard and drill it all came together and I managed to produce a huge glowing ember. I was super chuffed!

I think doing this will hopefully be really interesting for the children to see and they can have a go as well if they feel up to it.


Then I thought the lesson might end with some simple nettle cordage. Nothing very thick but maybe enough to make some friendship bracelets or string. It will shrink as we're not going to be using dried nettle fibres but that shouldn't matter for the activity and a bit of fun.

What do you think? Would this be fun for a group of children on an afternoon?

What quick and simple "bushcraft" or outside games can you think of that we could play if they finish activities too early?

7 comments:

  1. When you say exchange students does this mean their first language is not English? If so I think you will have to gauge their level of comprehension. Other than that all I can say is I wish I could be one of the participants, sounds a lot of fun.

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    1. Yes, English as their second language. I was wrong though it's not exchange students, more students who are stay for a short while and boarding. It was a great fun evening and I'll have to do a blog post on it soon!

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    1. I'm afraid I'll have to take your word for the behaviour as I watch no sport ever, it's just not something I've ever got into, growing up on a farm dad always had better things for us to be doing.
      But I accept your apology, we currently have plenty of people representing us who I am utterly ashamed of. People turning their back in the EU for one, regardless of their belief this is just plain disrespectful. None of their turn their back on the pay packets they get!

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  3. All of your ideas look like great fun and more than that, good skills to learn. The thought you've put into how you will teach is great testament to your value as instructor. The kids will be most blessed to have you.

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    1. I'm lucky to have a wife who is a teacher, she is great for this lesson planning. I think the trick with anything outside like this is just to take it slow and not rush it, let the kids do stuff at their own pace.

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