The question of how our bushcraft courses are applicable in the modern world comes up from time to time both in email and through discussions, so I wanted to formally address it today.
When examined from a sufficient distance so as to blur the specific skills, our courses teach four things: problem solving, leadership, self-reliance and confidence. These are learned experientially, which means that they are lived all day, every day. Unlike many formal learning programs, they aren’t abstractions discussed on a whim using hypothetical situations
In the classroom, on the field, and later in the business world, these are the building blocks of success. More about each;
Problem Solving: Building shelters, lighting fires, and other common bushcraft tasks are problem solving exercises. Given a few simple tools and the available natural resources, can you make yourself comfortable and build a life for yourself? If so, you have to figure out how. But figuring problems out is where most exercises stop. In bushcraft, it’s less than half the battle. The real learning comes with the execution of the plan. This is where you learn if the solutions arrived at were any good.
Leadership: Leadership is often “taught” in courses where one is the leader for the exercise or the day. I would argue that this is more often management than leadership. Real leadership evolves when working toward an outcome with no direct path to get there. It involves management, but also how to inspire and create a desire for excellence in those being led.
Self-Reliance: Self-reliance is a rare commodity in our world, and becoming rarer still. Many people have difficulty thinking or acting without being told what to do and how to do it. Those who can be self-reliant in their thoughts and actions, while few, are sought after. Bushcraft is an incubator for self-reliance. Beginning with the hands-on and tangible, it facilitates doing and thinking for yourself and results in an independence few experience these days.
Confidence: We start small on our programs, building as we progress. The difficulty of tasks increases proportionally with skill and experience. People who think they can do something occasionally fail. People who know they can rarely do. Our goal is to create people who know they can because they’ve done it before. Developing the “I know I can” attitude can fundamentally change someone’s life.
So while we don’t teach bushcraft as a vehicle for personal growth, these are the transferable consequences of learning it.