Information: bushcraft & survival skills
Information on the theory and practice of bushcraft & survival skills outdoors – from case studies to policies, examples of forms, documents & handouts, research and articles, and much more to support your theoretical explorations into the outdoors.
With your help the information section can grow – can you recommend sample policies, signpost articles or videos, share documents or resources? Please contribute so we can build the knowledge and good practice of all people working with groups outdoors. Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Reports, articles, research etc are, as much as possible, arranged in chronological order, most recent at the top.
What is Bushcraft?
The term bushcraft originally referred to the skills of living/surviving in the Australian or African Bush. In the UK we have taken hold of the word and adapted it, widening its use to encompass the many special aspects of the subject.
For me, it brings together some key/magical ingredients: adventure, creativity, inspiration, survival skills, which are all-in-all good for wellbeing. At the heart of good bushcraft is a philosophy that focuses on “working with our environment,” rather than a focus on disaster survival where you do whatever you need to in order to survive the immediate situation. For me bushcraft should also challenge peoples perceptions/the way they see their environment.
What does it involve?
The sort of skills that bushcraft includes are: effective shelter building, responsible fire lighting, campfire gadgets & cooking, identifying and gathering wild foods, string making, tracking, whittling, flint knapping.
There are a lot more things we could mention but perhaps it is a good idea to get to understand what is at the heart of bushcraft: one of the key elements is that it will heighten your understanding of your surroundings.
Who can get involved?
It really can be for anyone.
At the age of 2 my daughter spent a night in a cave with me. She loved it so much we spent 4 nights in it that year.
Benefits of participation
In the 1970s Richard Graves wrote a book called Bushcraft. In his opening paragraph he wrote this quite prophetic statement.
“The practice of Bushcraft shows many unexpected results. The five senses are sharpened, and consequently the joy of being alive is greater. The individual’s ability to adapt, improvise is developed to a remarkable degree. This in turn leads to increased self confidence. Self confidence and the ability to adapt to a changing environment and to overcome difficulties is followed by a rapid improvement in the individual’s daily work. This in turn leads to advancement and promotion. Bushcraft, by developing adaptability, provides a broadening influence, a necessary counter to offset the narrowing influence of modern specialism. The practice of Bushcraft conserves and does not destroy wildlife.”
Where can we go to do it?
There are a good number of companies who run courses ranging from a family fun session to a full week for adults. Each year many new companies emerge offering exciting looking packages. Some will be excellent, some mediocre and some poor or even dangerous.
Questions to ask: who is the main person behind the business? What is their background? Have they a real passion for what they do or is it just a business venture?
Local Wildlife Trusts and National Parks often offer simple daytime packages or sessions that might include shelter building and fire lighting.
Bushcraft skills are being taught to women recovering from alcohol addiction in Bristol as part of their treatment. Short video from the BBC, 16 October 2015 (2 mins 12).
One of a series of books that ‘outline adult knowledge and skills, case studies of children’s voices, progression in learning, and curriculum links … will give you an insight into the knowledge you need as an adult in order to facilitate learning.’ Available from Muddy Faces.
Forest School Leader’s Guide
A really useful handy-sized book with practical guidance based on recognised good practice and Forest School Training Network recommendations. Deals sensibly with popular misconceptions & sets out the legal position of using & transporting knives for educational purposes. Produced by & available from Muddy Faces.
How to start a fire
Muddy Faces Outdoor Hub
Fire-lighting articles & blogs
We’ve gathered a selection of articles on fire-building and fire-starting techniques.
• Primitive fire building. The five steps to fire-building & lighting, including preparing your area, making a spark & using a flint and steel, from Ridgerunners – ‘for those who take to the woods & fields for work or play.’
Dos & don’ts of knot tying, types of knots, terminology, and how to tie 12 different knots – with a photo, instructions & suggested uses for each. From My Open Country (US)
Our bushcraft & survival skills links page signposts you to the main national bodies, key organisations, initiatives and websites in the world of bushcraft, survival & wilderness skills outdoors.
Have a browse – there are tons of links to loads of interesting, important & inspiring organisations!