Through adversity comes growth. So far this spring, mother nature has provided great opportunities for growth. The first few weeks of our spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester are the hardest few weeks of our calendar year. The snows are still deep, the streams are swollen, and getting around can be very difficult on deep, slushy snow and ice. This year we’ve been on snowshoes so far, and the temperatures have just started to warm up. The storm raging outside this morning will drop nearly an inch of rain before it heads off to the east, which should knock down some of the deep snows on the road. Maybe we’ll be able to drive in next week with canoe paddle blanks instead of sledding them in from the pavement. All in all, it’s a challenge.
Most modern people don’t have any weather or climate-imposed adversity or hardship to deal with, with the exception of when the heat or air conditioning goes out when it is sorely needed. Having experienced the challenges of the break-up (ie. when the snow melts) in the woods when travel is extremely difficult and inconvenient, I think it provides a perspective seldom seen in our modern, human-dominated world; that we’re not that important. Mother nature doesn’t care about our schedules, appointments, and what we think we have to do. In the modern world, people keep their schedules regardless of the weather. In the woods during the breakup, we adapt our schedules to the whims of mother nature.
This is the last spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester we’ll be running for the foreseeable future. In 2019 we’re running a summer and a fall semester, with a canoe expedition semester in May. I can’t say that I’ll miss it, but I can say that the challenges we’ve faced on spring semesters have taught me a lot about managing a group in bad weather, keeping morale up bad weather, and patience when the weather makes my plans impractical or dangerous.
Weather during a training situation can be a great teacher. During this course so far, students have learned the necessity of a raised bed in their shelter and how to light a wet-weather fire with self-preservation as the motive. Their experience has been radically different than someone who is here in the summer and learns those things as part of the curriculum, but without the nature-imposed self-preservation motive. The challenges faced by our current students will be rewarded with the experience of making it through. The more adversity we face, the more challenging the training, the greater the outcomes.