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Buckinghamshire Scouts – Back to Bushcraft

Everyone wants to be doing Bushcraft; an opportunity to learn new Bushcraft skills, sharpen up on old ones and put them all into practice.

Scout leaders relax in their natural shelter

Scout leaders relax in their natural shelter

Starting on a Saturday morning, you will be learning knife skills, fire-by-friction and other methods for lighting fires, building natural and man-made shelters.

In the evening we’ll be back country cooking and sleeping out, experiencing our new shelters. The sleepover will finish after breakfast on Sunday morning.

Real confidence booster for being a new leader

Itinerary:

  • Knife skills; the law, safe and practical use
  • Folding saw; techniques for safe use
  • You’ll be making a craft item using these skills
  • Building successful fires; tinder, kindling and fire lays
  • Fire by friction; using a bow drill to create fire
  • Other methods for fire lighting
  • Building shelters from natural materials
  • Putting up tarps and hammocks
  • Back country cooking

Fantastic experience, learning the basics, sleeping outdoors without tents, cooking on open fires and not relying on gas

Includes: teas and coffees, a light lunch, dinner and breakfast! Just as at camp, everyone will be expected to help with meal preparations, etc. To ensure everyone gets the most from this event, numbers are limited to 10 Leaders

Super location, animated and expert instruction, very useful refresher course for all Scout Leaders

Explorer Scouts Bushcraft Weekend

Setting the scene for the weekend, the Explorer Scouts sat by the campfire, in the outdoor classroom, a big cargo parachute. They listened to the weekend’s itinerary and safety brief. Whilst the camp is located on a Scout site, we were a ten minute walk from the main camp. Based in a small plantation, there is a nice variety of trees and under-story, so we disappear into the woodlands, out of sight of the campers on the main site.

Explorer Scouts learning Bushcraft

Explorer Scouts learning Bushcraft

All the Explorers were keen to be learning and or improving their knife skills. After discussion of knife safety, small groups were shown how to use a Mora knife, an important step up from their penknives. They, practiced cutting techniques and ultimately made tent pegs, to be used later in the day for shelters set up and construction.

Explorer Scouts learn knife skills

Explorer Scouts learn knife skills

Explorer Scouts learnt how to improve their fire lighting skills, covering fire steels, flint and steel and wire wool and batteries (always a favourite – just like a small firework display). Fire-by-friction can be challenge, so to help the Explorers be successful, they worked in teams. By having two Scouts holding the bearing block in place, and another two on the bow, each Scout had one task making the job far easier.

Explorer Scouts learn fire-by-friction

Explorer Scouts learn fire-by-friction

The Explorer Scouts, learnt how to build natural shelters from the materials found in the woods and then went on to learn how to set up a tarp and hammock. Here you can see them setting up the first of many tarps and hammocks. By the time it was getting dark they had a small village set up and enjoyed chilling out in the hammocks.

Explorer Scouts learning how to set up a tarp and hammock

Explorer Scouts learning how to set up a tarp and hammock

Along with ponassing fish and plucking pigeon, the Explorer Scouts helped to prepare a Muntjac deer. The dear had been shot a few days earlier and gutted immediately to ensure the meat was not spoiled. But the Muntjac still needed to be skinned and jointed. The venison joints were cooked in an earth oven / fire pit, with hot rocks cooking the meat, the heat sealed in with the earth dug from the hole.

Explorer Scouts learning game preparation

Explorer Scouts learning game preparation

In all there were 18 Explorer Scouts, from two units based near Aylesbury, with their respective leaders helping. A few of the Leaders had attended the Youth Leader Bushcraft Training course earlier in the year. Everyone had a great time, leaders too, helped no doubt, by the Explorer Scouts enthusiasm throughout the weekend.

Back to Bushcraft for Scout Leaders

Another lovely weekend in the woods at Chalfont Heights Scout Camp teaching Scout Leaders Bushcraft.

Learning how to light fires successfully

Learning how to light fires successfully

Being the first course of the year there was plenty to do; building a new table, setting up benches with timber from the managed plantation, making big tent pegs and cutting timber for the fire. Friday afternoon was spent setting up camp, putting up the parachute, big tarp and or course the on-suite toilet facilities!

Fire-by-friction success!

After a short tour of the woodland site and a safety brief – first subject of the day was knife skills; safety and the law, then on to cutting techniques, demonstrations and then whittling pegs and making kebab sticks ready for lunch!

Excellent instruction – more than worth going for the weekend, highly recommended

Cooking kebabs on the campfire

Cooking kebabs on the campfire

After a cuppa and biscuits, it was on to camp fires or more importantly how to light them successfully using a variety of methods. Whilst we were blessed with good weather, that didn’t go so far as having enough sun for solar ignition, but sparks were all working fire; fire steels and flint against steel, plus batteries and wire wool.

Next up was having some fun with fire-by-friction. After discussion about the components; bow, drill, hearth and bearing block, the technique and a demonstration it was time for the Scout Leaders to have a go. The Scouting motto “be prepared” could have been written just for this task – it’s not always as easy as it first might look, but I was pleased to see some success! And what better way to use those campfires, then to cook lunch – kebabs again; salami, ham, mushrooms, sweet peppers all wrapped up in a tortilla,  yummy!

It was good fun – family will be surprise that ‘bushcraft’ didn’t involve eating anything “weird”

Natural shelter building

Natural shelter building

Where were we going to sleep? The answer natural leafy shelters and in hammocks. Just a few simple knots for the hammocks and advice on checking they are secure and techniques for getting in and out safely. The natural shelters were a success, the most built on these courses so far, great fun and excellent team work meant a few leaders slept out in these cosy camps.

Preparing trout ready to ponass

Preparing trout ready to ponass

After a long day, with lots of tea, coffee and chocolate biscuits, it was time for some dinner and a lesson in fish preparation. Trout was on the menu, many people are put of fish because of the bones, so learning to ponass the fish, meant we could just enjoy the lovely trout with out the bones (well almost).

Ponnassed trout ready for cooking

Ponnassed trout ready for cooking

After gutting, filleting and ponassing it was time to cook them over the fire. Served up with salads, they were rather tasty.

Go on the course, I learnt a lot while having great fun, well worth the time, it’s fantastic, superb value!

Scout Leaders sharpening their practical skills

Scout leaders having fun down in the woods – the Back to Bushcraft – Scout Leaders sleepover provided the opportunity to learn new Bushcraft skills, sharpen up old ones and put them all into practice.

Bushcraft camp, kettle on the go under the parachute

Bushcraft camp, kettle on the go under the parachute

Enthusiasm for practical skills by Scout leaders has been fantastic, I’ve had to add extra dates to meet demand and there is already a keen following for courses in the Spring!

Here is our classroom; early morning sunlight shining through the parachute. Fire lighting included fire steels, batteries and wire wool, flint and steel and here you can see a Scout leader creating an ember by compression using a fire piston!

Fire lighting practice

Fire lighting practice

Putting it all into practice, building a small fire; note a raft to keep the fire above the cold damp ground and stacking the kindling and small sticks in a ‘v’ shape, creating height and allowing the breeze to oxygenate the fire.

Fantastic experience, learning basics for outdoor sleeping without the use of tents, cooking on open fires and not relying on gas

Fire-by-friction - lots of puff!

Fire-by-friction – lots of puff!

Team work certainly pays off, fire-by-friction can be a little bit of a challenge, especially when it’s your first time. Scout leaders worked in pairs, using a bow drill to achieve fire by friction. I was pleased to see Leaders from my Scout Group being the first to get their fire going – well done!

Shelter made with natural resources

Shelter made with natural resources

One of the shelters that were built with natural materials – lovely with the leaves around the door! Scout Leaders slept out in these warm leafy shelters for the night.

Great teacher, great fun, great learning – thanks David