Camping, Bushcraft & Survival

Survival Skills | Why Everyone Should Get Out There And Learn Bushcraft

We headed to the 'Garden of England' to learn a whole new set of survival skills

Bushcraft, for some it’s about learning and deepening their understanding of the natural world, connecting with ancestral practices and ensuring that these traditional methods are maintained. For others, it’s about wilderness survival and how to look after yourself in a tricky situation – either way it’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

But why in the modern world of underfloor heating and smashed avocado on toast do we need to learn, practice and maintain the skills required to live in remote locations? We went to Jack Raven Bushcraft in Kent – one of the UK’s leading bushcraft centres – to find out.

Pictured: Tales around the campfire. Photo: Giles Dean

Escape City Life

By 2050 two thirds of the global population will call the concrete jungle home, an increase from the current fifty-five percent. City life is great in bursts, but after a couple of days of it you can start hearing the outdoors calling you to escape can’t you?

We all know that city living isn’t natural. Nor is it good for us. Terrible air quality, overcrowding on public transport, and a schedule that gives you one night a week to ‘do you’ are just a few of the tribulations city dwellers go through. Get outside, get some oxygen rich air into your lungs and recharge yourself.

Pictured: Knife sharpening lesson. Photo: Giles Dean

Learn New Skills

Becoming a student of bushcraft opens up a whole new world of skills to learn – from building fires and sharpening knives to foraging for wild food and identifying trees and plants – the list is endless.

It’s good for your own development to keep learning new skills and to place yourself outside your comfort zone from time to time. Whether or not you will one day find yourself in a real-life survival situation, the skills you learn in bushcraft will go deeper than the sole act of performing the task at hand.

“Becoming a student of bushcraft opens up a whole new world of skills to learn”

For example, learning how to carve not only allows you to create beautiful handmade utensils such as spoons and spatulas – it more importantly teaches you how to slow down. Modern life is fast paced, fuelled by double espressos as you race from one task to the next rarely allowing yourself to concentrate on what is right in front of you.

Carving is the perfect antidote to this. Time will melt away as you lose yourself in a meditative state, working away at the wood. Before you know it, you will be holding something that is unique and personal to you and that, with a bit of care, will last a long time. Whether you’ll win any design awards for it is, of course, another matter entirely.

Pictured: Tarp and hammock set up. Photo: Giles Dean

Reconnecting With Nature

Getting outside and living in the woods for a couple of days allows you to rewild yourself and to connect with the natural world. After one night under canvas, you will already start to notice the difference in yourself. You will have forgotten about all the things you thought you couldn’t live without, and your internal dialogue will be that much quieter.

Bushcraft has conservation and sustainability right at the centre of its philosophy and you will be taught how to ‘leave no trace’, giving you the skills to move through the environment with no evidence of you being there.

Recently the human race has marched through life with little regard for the natural world; over consuming natural resources and passing on the responsibility of cleaning up for the next generation. Bushcraft gives you the skills to look after the environment, to get up close and personal with nature, and to see what outdoor people are doing to protect and nurture our green spaces. 

Pictured: Gary explaining fire building. Photo: Giles Dean

Gary – Founder of Jack Raven Bushcraft

“Bushcraft is as relevant today as it’s ever been, for at least two reasons.  Firstly, bushcraft is ultimately an exploration of the natural world. For our hunter gatherer ancestors the forest was the supermarket, DIY shop, and chemist all in one – it was simply a case of knowing what to look for, where to look for it and when.

“So a large part of what we do is teaching people about the various trees, plants and animals that we share our countryside with.  And through that learning and understanding comes an appreciation, and with that appreciation a desire to protect, preserve and enhance the fantastic treasures that nature has provided us.

“For our hunter gatherer ancestors the forest was the supermarket, DIY shop, and chemist”

“On a more individual level there is a wealth of research that strongly suggests that exposure to nature is good for us, both physically and mentally.  Our species has been around for 200,000 years and for most of that time we were hunter gatherers, inexorably connected to the land.

“It’s only in the last few centuries that we’ve moved away from that, but you can’t overcome all of that hard wiring, we’re quite literally meant to be outside in the forests.  Bushcraft is a means to stay true to our core being; a few days in the woods is like detoxing your soul and will leave you feeling energised and refreshed in your everyday life.”

Pictured: Making sparks with steel and flint. Photo via JackRavenBushcraft

To find out more about attending a bushcraft course, head to the Jack Raven Bushcraft website

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