To my mind, the key to emphasizing skills over kit in bushcraft (or woodcraft/woodsmanship as I knew it growing up in the 60s) is to put kit items in a “make do” category. As in, “You can make do with a plastic tarp,” You can make do with a decent fixed blade knife,” “You can make do with a disposable lighter and/or a mishmetal rod,” “You can make do with a cheap, inexpensive flashlight/torch,” “You can make do with a decent mid-sized backpack,” etc. As a kid, I just wanted and needed whatever kit would work so that I could get into the jungles and explore, forage, and learn how to get along in the wilds, whether alone or with friends. Only AFTER I was exposed as a young adult to the social “value” of acquiring kit as a status totem and mark of “sophistication” did the weight and unwieldiness of my pack reach proportions that made my wilderness forays truly painful and counter productive to the easy passage I enjoyed as a teen. Fascination with kit is just the natural outcome of the consumer mentality that is destroying our environment and planet, and doesn’t belong in true bushcraft and the love and respect for nature. It is the skills you teach that open our hearts and minds to the wildness and beauty of our natural world.
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Excellent Paul. It’s hard to top off your article as it is comprehensive a plenty. I used tin cans to cook in when I was young and have survived to tell the tale, although nowadays, the cans are mostly coated with plastics and vinyls, yuk. But a cheap container bought at a dollar store (or thrift shoppe) will serve well to start. I do have a suggestion, and it’s not really bushcrafty, but perhaps a sharp whistle in case of emergency? And it cannot be overstated that correct seasonal clothing is essential as your first shelter. The trick is to use what equipment you got and use it well. Enjoy the outdoors, it’s not a competition, it’s an experience. Work with nature, never against it. Keep it simple. Keep it safe.
The Merry Christmas, everyone! Your gifts are waiting for you under the tree in the gingerbread houses. Enjoy new clothes, new sweets and a new weapon. Now you can enjoy the fresh air of the day as ghouls die in the sunlight! Have fun! New lamps are now available. Perhaps you will dare to decorate your gardens to celebrate the apocalyptic Christmas coming up!
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