There’s a certain image that’s been created of the “bushcrafter” or “outdoor expert”. It usually involves a perception of this way of life as something difficult or nearly impossible to obtain for most people. It’s been cultivated by years of “survival” television and “man against nature” films, books and other media. Some of my favorite authors such as Rudyard Kipling and Jack London are guilty of creating this idea of nature “red in tooth and claw”. This isn’t an admonishment of them, but more of the culture they helped create in regards to the outdoors, and what it means to live in constant contact with the natural world. They helped turn the woods into an “other” that only a few very special people can brave and survive.
That’s not what we’re about at School Of The Forest and Jack Mountain. We aren’t keepers of any special knowledge, or going to teach you “the six things you MUST know for surviving in the bush”. That isn’t the point of what we do. What we have on our side is real field-based practical experience in the outdoors, and our curriculums are based around the fact that what we have to teach can be learned by anyone willing to put it in the time and effort to gain that field experience themselves. The truth of the matter, regardless of what the accepted ideal says, is that most of what we teach can, (and up until relatively recently in human history) and was learned by most human beings early in their lives.
This doesn’t mean that learning these skills or gaining a working knowledge of the natural world doesn’t take hard work. It’s tough, and often times physically and mentally exhausting. The point here isn’t to write it off as easy. It’s to know that regardless of how unattainable these skills may be presented as in our modern world, if you have the drive to understand them and put in the hours to master them they are completely accessible to just about anyone. It’s part of why most of our courses are long term. It takes a certain amount of time to develop these skills and see them in a day to day context, and that can’t happen over a weekend.
That’s what makes this way of life so appealing to me I think. These skills are how humanity participated in the natural world for a very long time, and as such are completely open to anyone with the desire to learn them. That’s a much more exciting thought to me than that of a select few having this skillset and knowledge base.