I’ve written before about the bushcraft and wilderness living skills we teach not existing in a vacuum. During a semester or other long-term course, these are practiced every day out of necessity and that helps students and instructors alike to really “own” them.
What I see happening is that a lot of the time is when students leave our field school, that context for practicing these skills is removed, and they are left with only their own motivation to keep honing their abilities or studying to improve their knowledge base. I think it can be daunting to try and fit in practicing what we’ve learned once we return to our day to day lives.
This doesn’t have to be the case. The beauty of the simple approach we take to a lot of projects is that it can be easily replicated in any setting. Bushcraft skills don’t require much to practice. I don’t just mean tools or materials involved, I’m also talking about time invested. If there’s a particular skill that you really want to get a good handle on, set aside ten minutes a day to work on it.
A BREAK FROM THE MODERN ROUTINE
I start doing this as soon as I leave the field school for the season. It not only keeps me in practice for skills we teach It also forces me to gain a deeper understanding of whatever I’m working on through constant practice and experimentation. I spend the winters far enough south of Northern Maine that I get to try out what I know in a different ecosystem. That means different tinder for friction fires, new plants and animals to interact with and a focus on the principles at play in my projects rather than relying on what materials I already know will work. An added benefit is stepping away from the daily routine and doing something that brings me joy. In these long winters, that’s not something to take lightly.
So take ten minutes a day, where ever you can find them. Carve a new bowdrill kit. Sharpen your tools. Anything you feel is a skill you’d like to improve before you’re back out in the bush is fair game. I think you’ll find that having taken those ten minutes to iron out any issues will be immensely beneficial the next time you’re out on the land.