For thousands of years we have lived connected to the natural world, relying on its resources to sustain our lives, from the food we eat, to the materials we use to build our homes and protect our families to the fuel we burn to keep us warm and dry. Over centuries, and as our populations have grown, we have adapted and advanced our knowledge and skills in how best to utilise these resources.
A group of young people reflecting around a fire sharing stories the same way our ancestors have done for hundreds of generations
But now, in the 21st century, the ancient knowledge, traditional skills and confidence that they give have been lost by so many of us. However, I believe that they are just as important now as they were from the beginning of time. We have certainly moved on in many many areas but at the core we still have the same human needs; shelter, fire, water and food but now we just call them our “Survival Priorities”.
Nomadic Kyrgyz herder passes on his knowledge to an expedition team about the plants and insects that can be found to eat in his environment. A true Bushcrafter of his wilderness!!!
For me, I see that bushcraft is not just a set of skills but a way of life, it’s about being in tune with your environment, not seeing it as a scary place or a blank canvas but confident that the natural world is an abundant place teeming with everything you need to live life. With just a few necessary tools you can not only survive but thrive, you can find food, make shelter, track, hunt, make fire and stay warm.
( 1. Rabbit Snare ) ( 2. Blaeberry bush ) ( 3. Fallow deer track in the snow )
Our world is changing so fast and my generation is facing an unprecedented number of crises, including the decline of our planet's health. I believe we need to reconnect with our natural world and perhaps by becoming more in tune with the ancient skills of our ancestors who were bushcrafters we can build a deeper respect for our planet and a greater will to protect it. As a young person I have personally experienced the power nature, the outdoors and the wild has in changing lives and so I also believe that these skills have the incredible potential to tackle something within us, our own personal mental health.
A group of people engaging with nature and learning to understand their environment through learning bushcraft skills
Learning the skills to thrive in the wild can have such an incredible impact on our mental well being. Nature can throw us out of our comfort zone and challenge us but also teach us things about ourselves and reveal such potential buried deep within us that we didn't even know was there. Being out in the natural world, intentionally connecting to nature, builds up new strengths like resilience, self confidence and positivity.
The wild can often be a reflection of life itself. Once it’s thrown you about a bit and shown you it’s true force and you realise that you came out of it stronger, surviving and thriving, the next time you are faced with a challenge and want to give up you'll think of the time you were being battered by the weather, tried for hours to make fire with a bow drill or your shelter fell down in the middle of the night you’ll remember that you pushed through, dug deep and conquered. You’ll also remember that your knowledge, skill and attitude prevailed. You became unstoppable and it fills your whole body with a magical feeling, something you don’t feel every day, an overwhelming sense of confidence, and also belonging. You just achieved something that your ancestors have been doing for thousands of years, innovating, learning and stepping out of our comfort zones and that shows that you are still connected to them.
A team of young people being battered by rain and icy snow, but not giving up and letting the elements get the better of them & having an exhilarating adventure
Learning to thrive in the wild has changed my mental wellbeing and as a young person I have learnt to take that inner strength and positivity into my everyday life and it’s given me the confidence to tackle the challenges that I face believing that I can overcome them.
There is a Bushcrafter spirit in us all. The knowledge is there, the environments are there, the need for it is there, you've just got to unlock it. Through learning and practicing bushcraft and engaging with the natural world around us we achieve two very important things; firstly we create a respect for the wild and our environment, a personal connection to it and a reason to protect it. And secondly, it helps us really understand who we are, it links us to hundreds of generations that have come before, whose lives have been full of challenges to live in wild environments and it just shows us that we still have their DNA in us, we still are masters of the bush, thrivers, survivors whatever you want to call it and when we put our mind to it we can overcome any challenge that is thrown at us too.
A team of people who just conquered the WILD!!! There’s a Bushcrafter in us all
Written by Evan Chick from Junior Survivor @junior_survivor
Credits for some of the pictures go to my amazing expedition team and fellow bushcraft buddy's