How to encourage diversity in bushcraft

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Buckshot

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Following on from the 'how others see us' thread i was struck by the vast majority of replies were (I think) from a fairly narrow demographic (white, male, over a certain age etc.).
Understandable in some ways because on this forum many of us are in the group.

On the basis that encouraging others and increasing popularity is a good way for a lesser known activity to become mainstream and acceptable, I wonder how we can encourage other demographic groups to try bushcraft and get involved?
What do you think?
Is there a reason why we don't see as many other demographic groups in the bushcraft world and is there anything we can do to change it?

I'm referring here to the UK environment only. On the basis this is a cultural thing and different countries will obviously have a different take on things can i ask our friends from over the water(s) to restrict posts to the UK situation please.

Many thanks and i look forward to hearing your views...
 

TeeDee

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Following on from the 'how others see us' thread i was struck by the vast majority of replies were (I think) from a fairly narrow demographic (white, male, over a certain age etc.).
Understandable in some ways because on this forum many of us are in the group.

On the basis that encouraging others and increasing popularity is a good way for a lesser known activity to become mainstream and acceptable, I wonder how we can encourage other demographic groups to try bushcraft and get involved?
What do you think?
Is there a reason why we don't see as many other demographic groups in the bushcraft world and is there anything we can do to change it?

I'm referring here to the UK environment only. On the basis this is a cultural thing and different countries will obviously have a different take on things can i ask our friends from over the water(s) to restrict posts to the UK situation please.

Many thanks and i look forward to hearing your views...


An interesting question.

Difficult in this day and age I think to discuss openly without either causing offence or potentially feel someone is about to cause offence. To much can be misread.
 

Stew

Bushcrafter through and through
Nov 29, 2003
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A very good question!

This is something I struggle with a lot through various activities.
Alastair Humphries has some good conversations about it on his Living Adventurously podcast. I can’t tell you what episodes as I’m on about #60 but if you like a slightly different listen, I would recommend it. Some interesting people and conversations!
 

Wander

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Jan 6, 2017
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These kinds of things always have me in two minds.
On the one hand I think, 'yeah, why not - it's good to reach out to others and share.'
But on the other hand I think, 'bushcraft is, and always has been, open to all. There's no need to try to talk people into it if they aren't into it. It's there for anyone interested. It's best to make it a welcoming experience for those who want to be part of it than it is to have a missionary zeal to convert people.'

To be a proper grump about it, with all the extra people going into the countryside and, frankly, ruining it (whether or not they mean to) during the Covid pandemic, the last bloody thing the countryside needs is more people going into it. The Bushcraft Boom has passed, which is no bad thing - I don't see as many lean-to shelters in the woods as I once did, for which I'm grateful.

So, on balance, I think I'd prefer not to do any outreach work. I think bushcraft is a democratic activity, there for those who want to be part of it no matter who they may be. Positive discrimination to recruit groups under-represented is unnecessary. If people are interested they'll find it. Let's keep it organic and natural and not try to engineer interest. Let the natural world take a break from too many people trampling over it.
 

TeeDee

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Jordan Petersons quote regarding why certain sexes naturally gravitate to certain jobs - STEM groups vs Nursing or Humanitarian studies is " Equal Opportunities doesn't mean Equal Outcomes " - Which I've always taken to mean you can provide everyone to have the ability to access and opportunity to pursue something but you can't then Force the outcome to meet your desires or requirements.

I'm not sure why as you say White , males over a certain age gravitate to Bushcraft more than any other race or sex but as far as I can see there is plenty of availability of opportunity for others in those areas to become involved.
 

Laurentius

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Jordan Petersons quote regarding why certain sexes naturally gravitate to certain jobs - STEM groups vs Nursing or Humanitarian studies is " Equal Opportunities doesn't mean Equal Outcomes " - Which I've always taken to mean you can provide everyone to have the ability to access and opportunity to pursue something but you can't then Force the outcome to meet your desires or requirements.

I'm not sure why as you say White , males over a certain age gravitate to Bushcraft more than any other race or sex but as far as I can see there is plenty of availability of opportunity for others in those areas to become involved.
I saw what looked like it might be an interesting title on YouTube, then saw it was Jordan Peterson, and said to myself "don't go there, you know you can't stand the man and will be spitting your tea all over the screen and thumping the desk" On the other hand without needing to refer to anybody, I do think that some pastimes attract a certain kind of person, and others don't. If you are not too careful you end up in "cultural appropriation" territory if you are seen to be doing something that is not native to your ethnicity, so there is so much tosh being talked about making things appeal to "diversity." Certainly we should not act in any way that discourages or puts off certain minority groups, whether that is gender, age, disability or ethnicity, but insisting that other people do what we like to do because there is not seen to be enough diversity seems a bit like gesture politics, being seen to be doing the right thing and ending up being outright patronising, particularly if you don't really have any understanding of the group you are trying to include. I certainly feel this whenever for example a group of well meaning people get together and say for example "lets include some autistic people in our activity, now who do we know who is autistic, and then press gang some unwilling volunteer into whatever it is, demonstrating along the way all the reasons why that person would never want to be part of that group in the first place. Ok I said no politics, and now I have gone all Groucho Marxist.
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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I think one of the big challenges is that white British men don’t have the answer!

I'm not convinced we either need one or there is one. As has been said there are no barriers to participation. One has to be of a certain age to cherish sitting around doing nothing staring into a campfire :)

I've had a few younger groups for weekends in the wood and there are plenty of kids (girls and boys) in things like the canoeing world that are happy to spend nights out. I don't actually believe in an activity called 'bushcraft'. I believe in applying bushcraft to outdoor activities whether that's camping, canoeing, cycling, fishing .... there's plenty of diversity in those activities.
 

TeeDee

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This link explains some of my concerns regarding discussing anything race related and getting others from different ethnic groups involved more into bushcraft , but equally I'm not a fan of identity politics in the first place as I feel by its nature is divisive in nature.


 
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Stew

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I'm not convinced we either need one or there is one. As has been said there are no barriers to participation. One has to be of a certain age to cherish sitting around doing nothing staring into a campfire :)

I've had a few younger groups for weekends in the wood and there are plenty of kids (girls and boys) in things like the canoeing world that are happy to spend nights out. I don't actually believe in an activity called 'bushcraft'. I believe in applying bushcraft to outdoor activities whether that's camping, canoeing, cycling, fishing .... there's plenty of diversity in those activities.
I’m not too surprised.
 

Souledman

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Nov 14, 2020
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I think a lot of it comes down to time.

From what I’ve learned reading here, listening there, trying to plan a trip in the future, bushcraft takes time, to do and learn and there are certain demographics who have more time on their hands. While others have more pressures on theirs.

I’ll spare you all the ranty bit about certain groups having less access... because as someone above said, there is no way to address it without getting political.
 

Robson Valley

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"Monkey see, monkey do" is universal. The day trippers need wilderness destinations even if just to try to put a hot meal together.
Seeing people relaxing around a campfire in front of a tent.

Can there be more regional and district events like the Moot? If I could get to the UK again, that is on my bucket list of noteworthy things to do. To be entertained by skills developers and tons of outdoor cooking.
 

Tengu

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Ow, you scum, making me click on a Mirror link...

Quote from commenter'

I did read the article & then decided to do a little research. I read a report conducted by Natural England on black, ethnic minorities access to nature. The factors that affect access to the natural environment of ethnic minorities communities include economic circumstances, language barriers, poor access to information & lack of transport. The conclusion of the report was that better links should be established within ethnic minority communities to help promote these areas & to help tackle the factors.

So, it is excuses, more excuses, laziness and yet more excuses?

How do white folk in the city manage?

And the idea that the countryside is racist is objectionable. Our village these days is very diverse, in fact I would say that minorities are very welcome, as they value small communities more.

(We may be biased against townies, though...)
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
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Who is interested in bushcraft and a Brit but younger than 20 years, is surely a member of the boy scout association and can discuss his questions there.

German bushcraft forums usually don't have young members but otherwise there are several thousand German boy scouts. And I guess, it's exactly the same in Britain.

I think the former boy scouts discover other countries when reaching the student age, I guess they haven't so much time to play in internet forums, but already own a good equipment and have a good outdoor education. Even if generally interested in nature, they surely focus on culture in this age.

Who founded a young family hasn't time for anything else than family and career. Such people watch perhaps bushcraft videos or a good old western with John Wayne, but surely can't invest so much time that is needed if one joined such a forum.
Here even photos are pretty rare. We write here some kind of bushcraft book. But the themes are pretty special. I think it is needed to have a lot of knowledge to appreciate the threads in our forum.
What we are doing here is pretty scientific. You can study here bushcraftology, if you have the time to do it.

If I am young, want to go outdoors and haven't so much time but enough money I simply go to a shop and get the equipment there. And to be honest it doesn't really matter what people get exactly as long as they stay in relatively civilised areas.

And that's why we have here old men and a few probably unmarried men in the best years.

It's a good question, why all outdoor forums are dominated male.
The Scouts had always approximately 1/3 girls in the associations.

But I have noticed, that forums that discuss lightweight material have a higher amount of female members. Probably the women are playing in ultra light trekking forums and are less interested in bomb proof army surplus equipment?
I can imagine, that young women have fear about wild camping and prefere camping grounds. If I meet women they usually come by bike to camping grounds. Usual outdoor shops don't offer trekking equipment that's easily portable by smaller women that work in usual office jobs.. I think even if they would try it ones, they pretty soon decide, that this is too exhausting instead of asking in forums for lighter equipment. There are of course examples that show the opposite, and every female member of every Olympic team could easily carry a usual trekking equipment. But I think that any sports aren't so horrible in fashion.

I think, that women are simply less interested in camping and hiking and especially wild camping. I can't tell you if the reason is just the traditional education or if there are biological reasons.

May be that most women don't like to sit alone in the dark forest. As we know even young men ask here about the fear in the dark.

I thought about it since decades and didn't come to any convincing results.

But my impression is that on touristic camping grounds male and female are 50:50. Camping grounds are secure and people usually come by car or bicycle.

White men?

I think, that's just because here the majority is white and the bushcrafters are a very small minority. Perhaps migrants have other problems and interests.
But if I watch French bushcraft videos the makers are by far not all blond with blue eyes. There are Arabs too, or whatever.

But the access to private land isn't limited in France like in Britain. Everybody can walk in France where he wants to. And bivuoacs on state ground aren't interdicted. Perhaps that's a reason.
 
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Toddy

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Without getting political, in the days before local govt was starved of funds for anything 'social', my friends and I got a lot of work demonstrating and teaching at events from craft weekends to days in every park in the city for the local schoolkids. Among us we did hands on everything from blacksmithing to boatbuilding, from basketry to spinning, pottery to glass blowing, bodging to cordages......and the list goes on and on and on.
The sheer volume of people that we saw, of every age and social demographic, was enormous.
Some of these events had 50,000 people.
It never failed to astound and please me just how many bushcrafters quietly made themselves known to us :)
Many of the folks who just visited us, who had no previous real interest, ended up becoming involved though. Make it seem possible, encourage folks to try, and it's surprising sometimes the folks who are hooked.

We had a lot of fun, we taught, we demonstrated, we made it fun, we encouraged and we didn't care for colour, creed, age, ethnicity, he/she/they, able bodied or minded, or not.
They're all just people.

Thing is though, modern society is so entrenched in electronics that actual hands on learning and practice of physical craft skills, come rain, hail, shine or snow, is becoming rarer. Even folks like joiners use nail guns these days and bench saws on site. It's quicker, easier and more economically viable.

Hand tools, and the use thereof, is intrinsic to bushcraft. I could argue that making those tools in the first place is intrinsic to bushcraft too.
So many people though are of the opinion that to be 'hand made' something needs to be crude, when the truth is that machine made was done to copy the best of hand made.
Take fishing for instance, it's easy to buy a reel of line and some hooks, or a net, but it takes a heck of a while to make those from scratch. I'm not saying you need to, but knowing how to, and doing the practice and establishing the skill set; that's bushcraft :)

I think if it interests people they'll drift into places where they will meet others, they will spend the time to just do stuff, practice, learn, pick up bit by bit by bit the knowledge that never ends.
Find like-minded people, chill out, make some great memories, enjoy the company and the chat.
No one knows it all, it's a quiet pleasure to go walkabout with someone else in their area and see it through their eyes. We all learn :)

M
 

Woody girl

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I'm white, female, ride a big motorcycle and love camping and "bushcraft" wear jeans, not dresses, non of that fits what I'm "supposed" to do. Non of my female friends can understand why I might want to spend a week in a hammock in a wood, and cooking on a campfire,
Rather you than me, is the normal reaction.
I also knit, make jam, grow veg, and do all the things "women of my age" do.
That makes me acceptable to other women though only just!
I just dont care, I do what I want to do, but I have discovered it isn't considered "normal" for someone such as myself. It seems that it's a l great laugh to call me Ray Mears, or Bear Gryls, and consider me odd.
There is the problem.
Those that wish to be involved will find their way into it, those that dont, or are to worried about being seen in a way that isn't considered normal in their particular society probably wont.
There are a lot more women involved in bushcraft than you might think. It's not all white and male!

Ps, I've got a disability too!
 

Fadcode

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The biggest threat to anyone becoming involved with "Bushcraft" is not their colour, their religion, their economic status, their location...............it's their Parents, the children of today are too mollycoddled, they can't even walk to school let alone go for a walk in the woods.
We live in an age of protectionism, who would have ever thought we would see the day the Boy Scouts would not be allowed to carry a knife, look at the numbers today in the Scouts/Guides very few, yet they are such wonderful institutions, but they do need parental permission to join, and its the Parents that see it as a bother, taking them etc.
(I have a interest in this as it was one of my long lost relatives that started the Boy Scouts of America in 1910)

When I was a youngster, we didn't have television, we didn't own a car, but what we did have was freedom and the chance to be adventurous, and we all would spend our time in the woods, both boys and girls, didn't matter what your colour was or how tall or fat you were, as long as you could do something useful.
We used to make our own bikes, steeries, (carts with four wheels), bows and arrows, etc, we had the nous to do these things , I think naturally, we used our initiative and learned quickly.

We then see the electronic age, and also the age of protection, where children are no longer free to roam, cant go out on their own, and basically not allowed the freedom to use their inbuilt adventurism(if that is a word), they became more use to being adventurous in watching shows on TV, or movies, Harry Potter etc, which did not really teach them anything about surviving.
Same with the adults of today, look at the shows on TV all about learning, whether its DIY or Cooking, not doing these things for real but by rote.

In todays society its much easier to get other people to do things for you, than to do it yourself, and once you get used to this, then it's hard to get out of the habit. And very hard for people to be enthused about undertaking new tasks, scared of failure, scared of being ridiculed possibly.

Trying to talk or encourage people to do these things is very difficult, most couldn't be bothered, much easier to stay in, watch TV order a meal on the iPhone(other phones are available) this is the modern society of today.

This is why the skills are not being passed on, even in the indigenous people of far away lands are facing the same problem, the youngsters have other things to do, Bushcraft is not cool anymore, it's only done by strange people who like staying out in the cold and the rain, and carry heavy burdens on their backs, it 's not for the youngsters of today. no matter how hard we try to get them to do it.

Even people on here have commented that its better the less people you see when you are out, how long before you see no-one, and how long before the long established walks and paths are gone, because as the saying goes "use them or lose them", yes tourists are plentiful in the summer, but maybe a few of them realise the wellbeing of the open countryside and come back in the fall and the winter, and become involved in Bushcraft after seeing the benefits of a struggled walk or climb up a hill.

There are very few hobbies which you can undertake without a great cost, Bushcrafting involves very little cost, and can be undertaken at no cost at all, so there are no barriers to enjoying the countryside, there are no barriers to learning about wildlife, the only thing you need is the will, it's open to everyone who has the inclination for it.

Now saying all that the only other thing that struck me, is are we odd people?, when ever I am out and about and see someone with a rucksack on, they are usually on their own, are we loners?
Do we crave isolation? like the fisherman on the river bank, sitting in isolation often with their thoughts in another world, peacefull passive, without a care. the lone cyclist breathing heavy in his uphill ride, is it all about getting away from it all?

I would have said a comment about diversity, but I can't even see where that comes into the equation, no barriers then its diverse.
 

BigMonster

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Sep 6, 2011
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Different groups of people (age, gender, height, nationality etc) have different passions, culture and hobbies. Let them do what they want to do.
For example I have no problem with the amount of Polish people in our bushcraft group and see no point in advertising on polish forums. I can't imagine more open group of people then bushcrafters especially in UK, no point force feeding anyone, if they want to join we are easy enough to find.

Let this thing grow, develop and evolve naturally, nothing good comes from artificial stimulation.
 

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