Does everything have to be a "thing"?Is this bushcraft, or is this just being outside?

Posted: Wed 27 Oct 2021

A few reflections on a fascinating day of staff training. On Monday Ola and I travelled over to Easter Kinkell on the Black Isle to do a day of bushcraft training with Rob Bashford from Coast & Cairn. We learned lots about how to do safe knifework, firelighting and basic camp cookery.

We also built tarps and learned how to make pegs and fire supports using green wood. This is all stuff which we plan to integrate into the 2022 programme (and indeed Ola's Polish language sessions starting next month). Between us we came at the subject from Danish, Polish and English perspectives, and got our chat started when Rob asked us about our prior experience of 'bushcraft' (let's call it that for now). We all mentioned that we have been doing these kinds of things as part of normal life since we were young, but had never done any formal training in 'bushcraft'. We all agreed it's a good thing that, for the time being at least, this is one corner of the outdoor world which is relatively untouched by regulation and standardisation. If the overarching vision for Àban's work is to enjoy healthy outdoor adventures as a normal part of daily life, then it becomes important to break down some common language barriers. If every outdoor activity is perceived as a distinct discipline, and is usually spelled with a capital letter, then I think we're in trouble. Does a young person have to get special training in order to go "Hillwalking"? The answer of course is no, you should just go outdoors, and if you end up on top of a hill then well done you. This same theme ran through the bikepacking camp too, as exemplified in what's probably my favourite photo from the whole week. Just a bunch of people about to enjoy a really long bike ride. Are the people in this photo 'Mountain Bikers'? Well, maybe yes, maybe no: to me they're just people who have that there needn't be a big leap between the daily humdrum and that very special feeling when you set off into the unknown.

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