Chicken of the woods
Welcome to The Bushcraft Way

Many of you will, of course, recognise the title being a direct take from Basil Rawson’s seminal educational programme that was for decades the basis of the Woodcraft Folk’s badge work. Over the years the Folk has constantly evolved, to the point where “woodcraft” plays a limited role in our educational programme. We hope that this programme, available to all our members from Woodchips to DFs and Kinsfolk, will reverse this regrettable trend.

I bought my first bushcraft book in 1988- the same year I became a Pioneer leader. The book was Ray Mears’ “The Survival Handbook” and I recall trying to persuade the Sussex Area Council to fund me to attend a course run by Mears (before he was famous). Unlike today, there was no funding available and I had to wait another 14 years before I was able to take advantage of an educational opportunity in bushcraft. My tutor was John Rhyder, a quietly spoken man of enormous talent yet modest to boot. I liked him straight away. The week long course was truly fantastic, and when I was able to create fire by friction, blowing an ember into life in the tinder bundle, I experienced exhilaration greater than when my tutor told me I had obtained an upper second class honours degree. This was an emotion I wanted other members to have the opportunity to share. In talking to John and Brighthelmstone leaders we decided to try to “update Seton”. And thus was born the initiative that led to seeking and obtaining grant funding from “Awards for All”, that in turn enabled the production of this website and educational programme.

The curriculum is intended to plot a course for an intimate knowledge of woodcraft/bushcraft starting at pre-school and continuing through to adulthood. Woodcraft, or to give it its more recognisable modern name “bushcraft” can be described thusly:

Bushcraft is about surviving and thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include; firecraft, tracking, hunting, shelter building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, rope and twine-making, and many others.

This modern form of Bushcraft encompasses much more than just a collection of survival skills though. Primitive skills and technologies which are often thought of as crude or backward in the modern world can be of great importance and are seen in Bushcraft as great achievements.

The respect gained for our unknown ancestors in the acquisition of these skills can be an important part of Bushcraft. With regards to respect and understanding, one thread of Bushcraft is also concerned with respect and understanding of the natural world, its flora and fauna and the way these elements interact.

So bushcraft is a lifeskill. But it must be holistic by its very application. Its component skill of campcraft rests upon naturecraft- you might be able to build a fire, but what wood is best for warmth, or for cooking? Which are the best woods to make a fire set from? What plants can be used to create a tinder bundle?

Bushcraft is also a lifecraft. By that I mean that one never stops learning, because there are always new skills to master, new knowledge to embrace, new environments to live within. In setting up this programme we have attempted to instil a woodcraft ethos into the fabric of the learning. From Woodchips to Venturers, we hope that groups and districts will embrace this programme. And many educators are finally returning to the potential of the outdoors as a theatre of learning. The Forest Education Initiative is one example, were the scheme’s strapline is “the classroom outdoors”.

This educational tool intends to create building blocks to span the totality of bushcraft in a British context. It is not intended that a whole age specific programme should be completed in one term- although if that’s your preferred modus operandi, then so be it. Rather, we see these modules as gently building skills and knowledge that will become embedded through use over years of practice.

The scheme is supported by online handbooks, hard copy versions of the same, certificates and badges. But at the same time the programme is flexible and we hope adaptable to local needs. Hence, you’ll find little in the way of prescription here.

The website will not be static. In the secure area you’ll find a section for uploading and downloading programming ideas and a discussion board that will allow registered members to ask questions and seek solutions from each other. We hope you’ll use to site to deepen your own and your group’s knowledge of bushcraft- the oldest craft humanity possesses.

 

Blue skies and smooth trailing.

Beni

 
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