I was in western Massachusetts this past weekend working with Frank Grindrod and a group of youngsters for a shelter-building class. They were focusing on debris shelters, building them during the day and sleeping in them that night. It was a warm, overcast day, with the sky foretelling the coming rain. With this type of shelter, the rule of how much leaf litter you need is similar to the rule for how much firewood is necessary to sleep by an open fire in the winter. When you think you have enough, get three times as much, then maybe you’re getting close. At 2 AM the skies opened up and it rained hard until nearly dawn. All but two of the youths retreated to the safe dryness of a tent. For all but the two that stayed in their shelter until dawn, it was the first attempt at building a shelter. As such, the event was a complete success since they learned the process of shelter construction, and the rain showed them where their weak points were. I’m sure the experience will be with them for a long time, and their next time building a similar shelter will be much faster and with few, if any, questions.
In the bush, unlike at school, the test often comes first, with the lesson to follow.