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need some ideas

Discussion in 'Bushcraft Chatter' started by crwydryny, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. crwydryny

    crwydryny Tenderfoot

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    to cut a long story short today I was asked by the people I work with if it would be possible to teach a bushcraft course in the woods we currently work in after a meeting with the funders and partner organisations today where we decided to have lunch in the woods and I ended up teaching them how to light fires with flint and steel.

    the question I want to ask is what kind of skills would be good to teach beginners (of various ages and abilities), I know firelighting and shelter building would be a good start, though teh site we currently work on is within a SSSI (site of special scientific intrest) due to rare geology and flora so anything we do would have to be minimal impact and if possible reversable (such as shelters would probably have to be taken down at the end of an exercise)
    but the list I currently have in my head include:-
    firelighting
    shelter building
    string making
    bowl making (and other such things)
    knot tying (possibly)
    finding and purifying water (possibly)

    I'm kind of reluctant to include things such as trap building and the likes as I'm not 100% on the laws regarding trapping and fishing by means other than a rod and reel so even though it's a useful survival skill it's not something I think would probably be approprate for people who are only going to use the skills while walking in the mountains or during a weekend of camping.
    so any other suggestions? (even for skills I'm not 100% on I have a few of people to draw from including atleast 2 other people with bushcrafting experience and our group's plant expert for plant identification)
     
  2. Mesquite

    Mesquite Anyone for sailing?

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    The ones that spring to my mind that you've not mentioned are:

    Knife skills (essential if you're going to do bowls or spoons or anything else)
    Safe use of saws
    Cooking over a fire
    Hygiene in the wood
     
  3. luckylee

    luckylee On a new Journey

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    good bit of advice.
     
  4. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    First thing I'd do would be to really evaluate your site.

    If it's a SSSi you can't use the plants that are there, you can't introduce human waste in any regular quantity (highest dig in Scotland was 2,000 foot up and a SSSi site; the loo bucket had to be carried up and down that mountain every single day), you're not supposed to have fires and you can't hunt or fish there, and you're not supposed to disturb the reptiles/bats/insects or other mammals either.

    So, either you talk and demo using materials from elsewhere (and again you can't leave (introduce) anything else to the environment) or you bring in and take away all the materials and resources that you need for your courses.

    I think they're giving you a very hard deal tbh.

    Normally I'd have said;
    Water; how to find, quality, conserve, or clean, and disposal.
    Shelter; why and how and with what.
    Plant recognition; seasonality, uses and potential.
    Habitat evaluation (what grows where, what lives/forages/hunts there)
    Fire; why and how and best practice.
    Food; what, where to find, how to prepare.

    Thing is though that most courses start with safe tool use and appropriate site behaviour then they lead into other skills.

    Cordage making is pretty straightforward, but there's a lot to it.
    Basketry is practical and has the advantage of being possible using a myriad of materials.
    Firelighting has so many different techniques that it can keep everyone interested and involved at some point.
    Food prep, game ?, well, everyone likes to eat, but things like bannock and good stew are filling and easier for most, but a hangi type prep/communal meal always goes down well, so long as it's well cooked and not just a half raw something dead.
    Carving would probably be best kept to something like pot hooks or tri sticks unless you have a budget for loads of crook knives and a tremendous amount of patience. A decent spurtle and a basic scoop spoon wouldn't go amiss though.
    Don't overlook the value of making a good, sound, digging stick either.....though a heck of a lot of folks don't even consider the roots as foraging or materials gathering.
    Tracking stick might be a good one.....and totally non damaging, just trying to see what lives in the woods :D
    How about navigation ? both by day and night ? :) again non intrusive.

    Be interesting to hear how you get on with this one :D
    Best of luck with it :cool:

    cheers,
    Toddy
     
  5. crwydryny

    crwydryny Tenderfoot

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    problem with knife skills it means I'll have to try to convince the people running it 1) to buy the knives for the group (I got enough to kit out a sizeable group but I'm not big on lending out my knives lol) especially with the knife laws and the fact that we work with people from all kinds of backgrounds (including mental health paitients, troubled teens and many more) it shouldn't be too much of a problem but would probably result in a lot of paper work and I'd have to work out some kind of log system for each knife. though people are free to bring their own to the group, at the moment it's only in the planning stage so a lot of things have to be worked out before hand.

    safe use of saws - for the most part most of the group will be famaliar with this due to voulenteering with out woodland conservation group but other than that there's no problem with including that among the things I could teach them.

    cooking over a fire - unfortunatly a big no no at the moment. due to the regulations that the charity has to work with to do any thing like that requires a food hygine certificate which I don't have (if it was done outside of the charity I'd have no problem with it but unfortunatly health and saftey laws are a pain). I may be able to see if one of the voulenteers or officers have a certificate so we can do it but at the moment it's going to be tricky.

    hygine in the woods - I could probably work on something for this. at the moment it's just brainstorming about what can and can't be done. but it shouldn't be too much of a problem to work into the project. obviously due to restrictions on what we're allowed to do in the area there won't be any deep trench latrines or anything like that. I may explain the basic working of one and how to go about constructing one however, maybe some soap making or something like that which shouldn't be too much of a problem
    luckly due to the conservation work we do in the area we have a large list of things we can and can't do. for example we have designated areas we're allowed to light fires in (basically places it can easily be contained) we have premission to cut down the larch trees (we're removing them to make way for native species) so can at least use them for for some of the tasks. also part of the area is outside the SSSI so we can use that for some of the stuff. luckly we have a good working relationship with the forrestry commission so getting premmission for stuff shouldn't be too hard (or finding alternitive sites) and if worse comes to worse I can always take materials up to work with (such as birch bark, willow wands, hazel twigs) plus thanks to the conservation work and path clearance we're already doing we got a nice stock of branches and logs to use as we wish (we already use teh logs for making benches and exercise equipment for the green gym)
    the SSSI is mostly to do with the unusual geology of the area, and there's one area with a few rare plants but that is far enough out of teh way that we won't be disturbing that area (in the 9 months I've been doing conservation work there I've only been to that area once, and that was just to look around)

    those a good suggestions toddy, I didn't even think of basket making (strange considering my boss has been going on about willow weaving for a good 2 months now lol). prepping game may be tricky until I find someone with a food hygine certificate (and get time to catch a couple of bunnies or some woodies for them to use).
    navigation could be a good one, I'm sure things like direction finding without a compass, making a compass from everyday materials ect would be fun to play with. not sure I'll be able to get premission for night time navigation unfortunatly due to again regulations and the people we'll be working with. though I may be able to get them to fun a camping trip into breccon if we can get enough people to cover the group (I can think of 2 maybe 3 people I could get onboard with that but finding a sutible time will be tricky. I'll have to what comes)

    thanks. at the moment it's all in the planning and brainstorming stage to see if it's feesable, basically one of the group leaders expressed an intrest in doing the stuff with his group as a change of pace and as something intresting to learn so if things go well it should be fun. we'll just have to wait and see what happens *turns into a human prezel by crossing everything possible*
     
  6. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    That isn't quite as restrictive as it first appeared :approve:

    It sounds as though the people you're likely to be working with are more the kind to benefit from the Forest Schools kind of stuff.

    Instead of sharps they use potato peelers to strip branches for dampers/twists cooking over the campfire, kind of thing.
    It's more about being out and participating than actually crafting stuff the way we do, iimmc.

    Good ideas on their sites though.....somewhere I came across the parents forum for outdoor activities with kids; that was pretty good too.

    Do you have a copy of the SNH Scottish Access Code....the one with the CD and the educcational, kid's, activity sheets ?
    I have a spare; if you want to have a read pm me your address and I'll post it on Monday. I know it's Scottish based but it's full of interesting info that is transferable. Might be something similar your group could compile to make best use of the woods.

    cheers,
    Toddy
     
  7. Mesquite

    Mesquite Anyone for sailing?

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    The cost side of things isn't too bad, I seem to remember Hellie Heinies (Sp?) had some very good hultfors knives that would be ideal for bushcrafting for sale at about £2.50 each. With regards the client base taking the time to show troubled teenagers that knives are a tool and not a weapon would be worth the hassles of a logging system for the safe control.

    As always bloody beauracuracy gets in the way of simple things :rolleyes: Hopefully you can do something simple and get round it :)

    Don't forget the use of natural products for soaps... things like Birch or Sweet chestnut leaves can be used as a soap quite effectively and feel really good on the skin :)
     
  8. crwydryny

    crwydryny Tenderfoot

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    I'll have to check at the office to see if they have a copy of the local equivalant. they probably have an electronic copy on the computer system (we work all over the country and even abroad with all kinds of people so one of the scottish groups may have even placed it on the system) I won't be able to check until monday at the earliest.

    it's not so much the expense persay but rather justifying it with the funders. for example things like pruning saws, bilhooks, shovels, waterproof clothing ect, that's easy to justify given our conservation work, but justifying buying a few knives for a bushcraft course. it would result in a lot of paperwork explaining what we need them for, what we plan to do, how we'd use them, saftey precautions and such all because of the bad press knives have recieved over the last few years.
    as for the troubled teens, we have one that "helps" with our conservation group. I say help actually he usually just sits on his butt. but that's a rant for another time. one time he got ahold of my machette (I use it for path clearence as it's more effective for dealing with brambles than loppers) teh idiot began swinging it around thinking he was conan or something. if it wasn't for the fact that we were on a project and bothe the group leader and his social worker were watching I would have probably clipped him one after I disarmed him.
    but yeah most of the people I would proabably be working with arn't that stupid. what I'm thinking is possibly getting a few cheep folders (the name for which slips my mind right now) that I know they have in the local army surplus. as they have wooden handles I can easily burn a number and the charity name in the handle so theu can be identified if stolen. a simple log with the knife number, date and the name of the person using the knife. that way I can know if someone has taken it and who (basically they can't go "oh I tossed my in the box with the others" instead it'll be "knife 6 is missing, jim bob you're listed as borrowing that one today")

    well I wouldn't make anyone suffer my cooking to be honnest lol. but yeah unfortunatly if someone fact got food poisoning (ignoring the fact that food poisoning can take up to 14 hours to take effect so isn't always the last thing you ate) either myself (or more likely) the charity would cop the blame.

    right now it's in the brainstorming stages so could go either way. hopefully it will go ahead (as it is something that fits with their goals, getting more people to visit the woods, teaching people useful skills, teaching people to work with nature(especially given the high rate of mountain/forrest fires we get) and basically improving the local area)
     

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