Posts Tagged With: wilderness survival skills

The Number One Knife Skill for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

The Number One Knife Skill for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Humans have employed six simple machines throughout history to reduce the amount of work required for tasks. Of these six, my favorite for outdoor self-reliance is the sexy and sleek wedge!

Huh!?

Sleek and Sexy? A wedge sounds rather dull and useless.

Hold on a second. You may change your mind about the humble wedge.

A wedge is an incline plane sharp enough to cut and separate stuff. Stuff like wood, meat, and even metal need to be divided into smaller parts in a civilized manner. No need to gnaw your steak like a caveman.

You see, like all our cutting tools, a knife is a wedge. Hence my love affair with this simple machine!

“I learned how much of what we think to be necessary is superfluous; I learned how few things are essential, and how essential those things really are.” ~ Bernard Ferguson

It’s not just the aesthetics of forged metal that attracts my attention. The wedge may be the most useful tool a person can carry in a pocket or on a belt.

Why?

Knives are designed to do more than spread peanut butter! In skilled hands, stuff can be made. Important survival stuff. Developing knife skills is the best way to replace all those shiny-object-survival kit items. Safely wielding a sharp wedge has always been a top priority for woodsmen and woods-women throughout history.

Survival vs. Self-Reliance

Somewhere along our collective outdoor journey, survival took on the connotation of simply staying alive. I personally don’t get too caught up in the latest terminology… Woodcraft vs. Bushcraft, Survival vs. Self-Reliance, etc., etc. All I know is that spending time in the woods is my passion.

Survival is part of self-reliance. A big part. You can’t develop outdoor self-reliance skills if you’re dead.

Look up a few old “Survival” writers in the 60’s. Survival was much different from how we view it today. These early survivalists taught us more than just making it through a 72 hour scenario. Survival was wilderness living skills back then.

Dial back to the golden age of camping and woodcraft and you’ll find that the knives of Nessmuk, Kephart, Seton, and Miller played an essential role in all their tramping and wilderness adventures. This simple machine (wedge) was a value-adding tool for, not only survival, but for camp comforts and wilderness living skills.

Before addressing skill, let’s begin with safety…

Knife Safety

A sharp knife is a safe knife. Dull knifes take more force for cutting and increase the risk of injury. You want your knife shaving sharp.

Below are a few tips for basic knife safety for outdoor self-reliance…

  • Cut in a direction away from your body. That’s good advice for beginners and seasoned woodsman. However, there are safe methods to cut wood towards your body when carving spoons that can transfer to outdoor self-reliance skills. Experience and band aids will teach more than reading.
  • Work with your knife outside the triangle of death (an imaginary triangle between your knees and crotch).
  • Work within the blood circle when others are nearby (a circle made with your outstretched arms as you turn 360 degrees).
  • Grip and body mechanics ~ standard grip, reverse grip, chest lever, knee lever, and thumb assisted grip for push cuts in fine carving tasks. (These will be covered in detail in a later post.)

#1 Knife Skill ~ Fire

No matter the season or environment, a solid belt knife rides on my hip. If I’m ever separated from my main pack, my knife is on my body. In this case, it is now my one tool option. A good fixed blade knife is your number one tool in a wilderness setting.

Why such a bold statement?

One word… Fire!

Fire covers a multitude of survival sins. That sharp, metal wedge attached to your hip may be your only hope for fire. Campfires are certainly mesmerizing. We build them for much more than to simply stare into the flickering flames. Fire is your best sleep aid. And sleep is the most overlooked skill in outdoor self-reliance.

“The quality of a survival kit is determined by how much it can help you when you need to sleep.  If you can sleep well at night, you have it made.” ~ Mors Kochanski

Which is more important, knife or ax? I totally agree with Mr. Kephart’s statement below.

The thought that a heavy hunting knife can do the work of a hatchet is a delusion. ~ Horace Kephart

However, stuff happens! Situations can relieve you of a fine ax. In that case, you’d be wise to have a knife able to process enough tinder and kindling for fire. In my woodlands, an abundance of small kindling material is available without ever removing my knife from its sheath. However, when it comes to tinder material, a knife really speeds the process.

Processing Wood

Feather sticks are all the rage in bushcraft and an excellent skill to practice. Pretty little curls bunched up on the end of a stick are created by controlled wood removal. Surface area created from these fine curls is what makes them burn so easily.

The classic feather stick

The classic feather stick with a twist

I found a down-n-dirt way to make feather sticks over at Toms Backwoods channel using a spoon knife pictured above. If you have a spoon knife in your kit, use it to process tinder/kindling if you need to do so in a hurry. Here’s a quick video demonstration of the process…

Feather sticks are pretty and all, but my favorite way to make tinder material is using the dull side (spine) of my knife instead of the cutting edge. This technique takes less skill than feather sticks but is a super quick and easy way to produce wood shavings for tinder. Scrape the outer bark of a cedar tree in the same manner to produce a bundle of fine and coarse tinder material. Georgia fat lighter is my all-time favorite, though…

Ax-less, a solid knife can process firewood using the baton method. The baton technique is frowned upon by many in the outdoor community. But as mentioned previously, beating a knife through a piece of wood is my Plan B if I don’t have a proper wood processing wedge (ax). A full-tang knife with a 4 to 5 inch blade should be robust enough to produce tinder, kindling (smalls), and fuel size wood from a single wooden round.

A funny note on smalls: A fellow bushcrafter from across the pond wrote me confused over the term “smalls”. In his part of the world, “smalls” referred to skivvies. I’m not advocating the burning of your underwear. Smalls are pencil lead to pencil size sticks (kindling) used in fire craft from where I come from. 🙂

Knife and Spark Ignition

The steel in your main carry knife is another fire resource. That is, if you carry a high carbon steel blade. The thought of striking the spine of your expensive wedge with a sharp piece of rock to produce sparks is an abomination to knife junkies. However, knowing that your blade can serve as a backup flint and steel ignition source may one day give you fire if that’s all you have available.

I’ve written a few times about using my favorite spark ignition source, flint and steel, here and here. While ferro rods create hotter sparks, they are consumable. A fire steel should last you a lifetime and then be passed down for the next generation to enjoy… like a good knife.

Remember, fire is life out there. How much is your life worth? I’d say way more than an expensive cutting tool!

To further you fire craft skills, I’ve got an entire page dedicated to this outdoor self-reliance skill. Your wedge (knife) is an essential tool for creating fire.

More knife skill articles are on the way. Stay sharp, my friends!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Best Practices for Your Third Most Critical Survival Priority

by Todd Walker

Using the “B” word will automatically rain hell and brimstone on any online discussion. What’s the Best knife, sidearm, rifle, or water filter? Try it for kicks and giggles. Type that four-letter word in front of any piece of gear and watch the internet explode.

Best Practices for Your Third Most Critical Survival Priority - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Photo courtesy of Iris Canterbury

When it comes to survival priorities, the same spirited debate rages.

In the Pathfinder System, Dave Canterbury ranks water as the third wilderness survival priority. Self-Aid and Shelter take the top two spots respectively. Of course, survival priorities are always dependent on the situation and shouldn’t be written in stone.

Here’s Dave’s full list…

  1. Self-aid
  2. Shelter
  3. Water
  4. Fire/heat
  5. Signaling
  6. Food
  7. Navigation

The subject of this article is the third priority – the substance which every system in the human body is dependent. A dehydrated body can not help you do all the stuff needed to keep you alive if you’re day hike turns into a week-long survival scenario.

Water is easy to find in the eastern woodlands. But it may not be fit for consumption.

That crystal clear stream you’re about to sip from may hold a rotting carcass 100 yards upstream. Also keep in mind that, yes, bears (and other critters) do crap in the woods along rivers and streams… which eventually washes into the pristine creek and into your cupped hands.

Introducing waterborne pathogens to your gut is a sure way to decrease your survivability in the wilderness. You need to assume that every water source in the backwoods contains the following invisible nasties (and more)…

  1. Giardia – A single-celled, microscopic parasite which causes a diarrheal illness called giardiasis. The parasite is passed through the feces of infected animals and humans. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, bloating, gas (not your normal campfire baked-bean induced gas), weakness, and stomach cramps. Symptoms show up within 1 to 2 weeks.
  2. Cryptosporidium – Crypto, as it is commonly known, is a parasite responsible for causing the most waterborne illnesses in the U.S. according to the CDC. Symptoms of watery diarrhea, dehydration, stomach pain and cramps, fever, and vomiting begin in 2 to 10 days of infection and may last up to 30 days.
  3. Escherichia coli (E. coli) – Some E. colia bacteria are beneficial to your intestinal tract. Then there’s the pathogenic, diarrhea kind transferred through water and food contaminated from human or animal feces. Remember that bear fact? Unfortunately, s**t happens. And ignorant humans have the bears beat!
  4. Salmonella – Most folks infected by this bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps within 12 to 72 hours. Not good for a 72 hour survival scenario. Oh, and it can spread to other body systems causing more long-term damage.

Bottom line… Don’t drink untreated water! … unless you have no other option in an emergency survival scenario. Dying of dehydration is worse than giardiasis after you’ve been rescued. But we’re talking camping not survival, here. Consider all backwoods water sources contaminated. Period. Even when brushing your teeth at camp, use disinfected water.

We’ve established the fact that the human body needs water to function properly. So what are the best (yeah, I used the B-word) practices to make water safe to drink?

Boiling Water

We took our youth group to a Catholic church in the early 80’s as a cross-cultural field trip. The priest met us at the door and invited us in. One of our really, really country boys asked the priest how holy water was made.

In all seriousness, the priest told us that they pour water in a pot, place it on a hot stove, and…

“boil the hell out of it.”

My Basic Class partner, Dave Williams, boiling 32 ounces of water

My Basic Class partner, Dave Williams, boiling 32 ounces of water in under 5 minutes

Boiling Times

There are lots of confusing, un-scientific info floating in the preparedness pool. So how long should you boil water to make it safe to drink?

a.) 10 minutes, b.) 5 minutes, c.) 1 minute, d.) depends on altitude

Answer: None of the above.

I’m not certain how long priests boil water before it becomes holy, but all you need to do is bring water to a boil to render the parasites, viruses, and bacteria harmless. In fact, 185º F for a few minutes will deliver the damage needed to kill the nasties. We boil in the backwoods because thermometers aren’t convenient to carry. Bubbles tell us when it’s done.

Research from the Wilderness Medical Society states that keeping water temps above 160º F for 30 minutes kills all pathogens through pasteurization. Bet you don’t carry a cooking thermometer in your pack. Even at high altitudes, once your water reaches the boiling point of 212º F,  you’re done. Boiling past zero minutes is a waste of fuel and life-giving water via evaporation.

In a perfect world, you whip out your metal container. Fill it with water and bring it to a boil. Take it off the heat immediately and allow the water to cool. Now you have potable water.

Water boiling challenge

Water boiling

What I carry is the Pathfinder Stainless Steel Cook set. The 32 ounce bottle nests inside the 25 oz. cup for easy storage in my haversack or backpack.

If you’re ever in a situation without a metal container, ask yourself this question…

What would MacGyver do?

Creative Containers

There may be resources in your pack which you’ve never considered could hold water for boiling. These items will help channel your inner MacGyver.

Dave Williams' duct tape water bottle at the Pathfinder School

Dave Williams’ duct tape water bottle at the Pathfinder School

  • Duct tape
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Trash bag
  • Backpack cover
  • Tarp
  • Rain suit or poncho
  • Dry bag
  • Hat

These pieces of kit will melt over a fire quicker than the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. But the important thing is that they hold water and you can make fire… and rocks litter the ground. Now you’re ready to boil water.

Stone Boil Method

Hot rocks from your campfire will boil water. Be sure to not use river rocks in the fire. The trapped moisture inside these stones are prone to explode when heated sending hot, sharp shrapnel flying. Use dry rocks.

Below are a few fellow YouTubers I respect demonstrating the stone boil method with improvised containers.

Hats off to IHatchetJack for this one…

Master Woodsman using a trash bag to boil water with stones…

Larry Roberts using a burn and scrape wooden container…

No-Boil Methods for Clean Water

You can’t boil water without a heat source. This fact places urgency on the need to carry at least 3 different methods to start a fire. We covered my favorite methods here.

However, even without fire, potable water is available in nature.

Water from Trees

Here are 4 trees found in the eastern woodlands that can be tapped in the same manner as our northern neighbors harvest sap for maple syrup. This hydration source is available when the sap is running in early spring.

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

A young Sycamore (Right) and River Birch (Left) growing near the roadside

Sap from the trees contains sugars and clean water that can be consumed without filtering or boiling. Collect the sap by boring a hole or notch about a 1/2 inch into the tree. Insert a 4 inch spigot made from a hollow stick or river cane as a conduit for the sap. Use a container underneath the spigot/spile to catch the runoff.

Use your Possum Mentality and collect any plastic water/soda bottles you come across. They can be used to collect sap without ever tapping the tree with a spigot. Darin from East Woodland Survival has an interesting technique I really like…

Water from Plants

Another great seasonal (spring, summer, and fall) source of clean water is found in wild grape vines. Sever the end of a large diameter vine near the ground over a container. It’ll start slowly dripping water into the container. Speed up the process by reaching as high as possible up the vine and cut a notch in the vine. The notch breaks the vacuum in the vine to increase the water output.

Don’t forget that your mouth is a container. Lay under the vine and drink directly from the plant. Be sure you can accurately identify grape vine from poison ivy and oak!

Rain Water

Rainy weather is a two-edged sword. It makes fire craft difficult but can provide needed emergency hydration.

With access to a tarp or rain gear, configure a “V” shape to collect rain and funnel it to a container.

John McCann of Survival Resources shows you how to do this in a homesteading situation easy enough. The same can be done in a survival scenario with sticks and ingenuity. His contraption collects and amazing amount of rain water!

A more primitive rain catchment technique is to harvest tree bark in half-pipe sections set up like a bicycle rim configuration with a collection device positioned at the axle. Tulip poplar, willow, and other non-resinous tree bark can be used.

Water Filters

Modern water filters are convenient and effective for removing parasites and bacteria but not viruses or chemical contaminants. I personally carried the Sawyer Mini on our recent backpacking trip on Eagle Rock Loop. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and effectively removes 99.9% of pathogens and is rated to clean 100,000 gallons of water.

sawyer squeeze water filter

DRG’s new squeeze! This is the larger Sawyer filter pictured.

Filters can be constructed from natural materials in the backcountry. My friend, Joshua Shuttlesworth, has a tutorial on building a Tripod Water Filter you should check out.

Remember to always assume wilderness water sources are contaminated. Drink without disinfecting water in the woods and you could pay a hefty price. Don’t trust what you read here or watch on YouTube videos. Get out and develop the skills needed to quench your thirst!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Potable Water, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills, Water | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects

by Todd Walker

 

“One of the hallmarks of the veteran woodsman is the way he contrives to make himself comfortable in camp”.

Warren H. Miller, 1915 (Quote from Master Woodsman‘s excellent site)

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ready to rough it in the great outdoors? Nope.

I’ll admit, I do enjoy putting myself through natures gauntlet to test my wilderness survival skills. But there comes a time when you want to pull up a stump, sip on hot cocoa, and simply stare at flickering flames.

Last winter I built a semi-permanent shelter as my personal space in the woods… my wilderness lair, if you will. Nothing too elaborate. Sparse woodland furnishings add a degree of comfort and manliness to its appearance and utility.

My base camp was built for outdoor education, adventure, skills training, and is very rudimentary. It could use a camp makeover for comfort’s sake. To add desired comforts, or ‘smoothing it’ as Nessmuk called it, a work bench for making stuff is in order.

No woodworking bench is complete without a vise. This simple tool holds raw wood to be transformed into something useful besides campfire kindling.

Thanks to Mother Nature, I was able to take advantage of a fallen red oak. With the root ball in tact, the dead tree is at perfect horizontal height. And conveniently located 20 feet downhill from my base camp. Don’t have a fallen tree? No problem. You can use a multipurpose camp stump to craft your vise. Dave Canterbury has some excellent videos on making one.

Tools Needed

Here’s the tools you’ll need to pack into base camp to build your stump vise. Depending on your woodcraft skills, you may get by with less or need more. I had a comment on my video that this project would only take 2 minutes with a chain saw. True. But again, what do you do when chainsaws stop humming? And who wants to hear chainsaws in the woods? I go to escape noise pollution.

Plus, you get to practice building stuff with hand tools. Besides, the reward of creating stuff in pioneer fashion is much more rewarding… to me anyhow.

 

  • Saw – a bucksaw large enough to cut kerfs into large diameter logs
  • Ax
  • Maul
  • Fro – optional, could use your ax, but it’s a cool tool to use
  • Wooden wedges

Step 1: Wood Removal

Make several perpendicular cuts with your saw into the log. Space each cut about an inch apart at the same depth along the top of the log. This cut section should be 9 or 10 inches long with cuts about 2 inches deep.

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Work bench, stump vise, and V notch.

Increasing the distance between cuts may save saw time but will make removing these sections more difficult.

Removing the first kerf cut is where the fro shines. Use a maul to drive the pointed end of the fro into one of the cut sections from the side. Torque the handle to pop the first kerf cut out of the log. Once the first kerf cut is removed, the others pop out easily. Pound the fro into the next kerf and pop it out. Continue until you have a flat work top on the log.

Step 2: Angle the Last Cut

I found through experience that cutting a 10 to 15 degree angle into one end of the newly created workbench indention is essential for split rails. Cut and remove this wood from the end of your flat table top notch. Rails fit nicely into the slot and can be held firmly in place with a series of wooden wedges.

Step 3: Cut Wedges

Use your saw to cut a shallow V notch in the end of a 3 inch diameter log. Use a longer log inside a Y branch like I used in the “Splitting Long Logs” video for stability. Cut the wedge to size (about 3 inches long) after cutting a V notch in the end.

Cut a few other round wedges in various lengths to fill the gap between the V wedge and the end of your vise. You’ll also need to carve a few shims about 1/8 to 1/4 width.

This might make more sense on my video.

Step 4: Test Fit

Lay a split rail into the cleated notch on your workbench. Place the V notch wedge against the opposite side of the rail. Depending on how wide you made your stump vise, you’ll likely need a few more round wedges to fill the gap between the V wedge and the 90 degree side of the table top.

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Wedges shimmed up on the right.

 

Tap a few shims between the round wedges and the edge of your vise to snug up the rail. With both sawing and draw knife work, the rails held fine. I had to tighten the shims a few times after hitting a knot in the rails with the draw knife. That was not too bad considering the amount of pressure exerted on the knots.

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A much needed red cedar camp table crafted this same day.

A stump vise not only holds split rails like a champ, it gives you options. Anything from wooden tool handles, to self-bows, to mortis and tenon furniture can be shaved and carved… with both hands free!

Not only does crafting camp comforts build self-reliance, they could keep you in the woods longer and more often. Here’s to smoothing it!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Tips to Cure Nature Deficit Disorder in Your Child

by Todd Walker

nature-deficit-disorder-cure

I couldn’t believe what my former middle school student told me in Science class!

“You grow meat in the ground.”

Not believing his jaw-dropping ignorance, I fought back the urge to laugh because he was dead serious. Clearly, “No Child Left Behind” wasn’t working. We’re all ignorant on certain subjects, but growing meat in the ground!?

His alienation from the wonders nature was all too evident… and alarming… as he truly believed his description… “They (rancher-farmer) buy meat, like rib eye, unwrap the plastic, and bury the steak in the ground like you would garden seeds. It grows and farmers pick it, re-wrap it in plastic and people buy it in the grocery store.”

I wish it weren’t true, but this conversation happened.

Then the sad OMG! truth crashed into my brain cells like a runaway locomotive…

He’d never been to a farm, let alone, camped in the woods overnight. Ever. The complete lack of experiencing the great outdoors firsthand is at epic levels. How did we fall so quickly from the self-reliance wagon in this country?

Pinpointing the cause is an exhaustive exercise for a later time.

What matters now is one child – your child.

Nature Deficit Disorder

As a whole, our younger generation doesn’t get out much except to hang out at the video store in the mall and show off their virtual skills to impress other pre-pubescent gamers. Our children have lost a vital, primal connection with nature. They suffer from a condition called Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD).

This condition, coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, is a result of our plugged-in culture which keeps kids and adults indoors. The disconnect from nature goes against what human brains are hard-wired to experience… the Great Outdoors!

Research shows that children who learn and play outdoors are enriched personally and academically in many ways:

  • Improved attention spans
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Increased academic success
  • Improved reading comprehension
  • Higher levels of self-discipline, language and social skills

The cure for NDD is simple. Get outside.

“It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.” – HORACE KEPHART, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917 (Quote from Master Woodsman page)

From personal experience with my grandson, introducing him to woodcraft and bushcraft skills created a hunger to get outside. After his first hike to my personal space in the woods, he was noticeably anxious. Within 15 minutes of setting up camp, he turns to me and says, “Ya know, Pops, I don’t feel so scared now.”

nature-deficit-disorder-cure

Max eating his first camp meal and making memories

Today, Max willingly trades video screens for streams. He’s taken a strong interest in the wonders of nature and building outdoor self-reliance skills. So much so that he’s joined a local Boy Scout troop. His wild journey has begun.

“Keep close to nature’s heart and break clear away once in a while and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean” ~John Muir

Won By One: Doing the Wild Stuff 

Kids today need one person in their life to help them connect to their true nature. They’re waiting to be Won by One. Who’s that One person?

You are!

Yep. Even if you have little to no experience outdoors, your child will respond if you lead, initiate, and unplug.

I’m developing a program called “Doing the Wild Stuff” to help students in my school escape their sterile block walls and learn in a natural environment. I’ll update you as it progresses. For now, let’s take this to a personal level – you and your child.

With holidays approaching, hopefully you’ll have extra time to start curing your child’s NDD. The first cure is as close as your backyard. And the good news is that you don’t need any specialized equipment or expensive gear to get started.

Cure #1: Backyard Bushcraft

Carve out a space in your backyard designated for practicing woodcraft/bushcraft skills. Fire craft is an essential skill every child should learn. Build a fire pit or use a charcoal grill. The fire ring will quickly become the ‘operating table’ for your NDD clinic.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Our son’s first bow drill ember at the backyard fire pit

Once you’ve honed your fire skills, plan a backyard campout. That’s the beauty of backyard camping, the backdoor increases the comfort level for newbie campers.

Cure #2: Tools 

Kids love tools. The biggest hurdle may be your own fear of your child using sharp stuff. Knives, axes, and saws are essential tools for building outdoor self-reliance skills.

Only you know the maturity level of you child. She may not be ready to carry her own knife without supervision. Until then, model proper technique and safety rules for him/her.

Emphasize these rules:

  1. Never use a cutting tool inside the triangle of death. When cutting or whittling wood, work with the cutting surface outside the legs, never inside the triangle from the knees to the crotch.
  2. Be aware of the blood circle. Make a wide arch with your outstretched arm in a circular motion. If another person is within that circle, it is not safe to work with the cutting tool.
  3. A dull knife is a dangerous knife. More pressure is required to cut with dull tools. This only increases the chances of accidents when cutting stuff. Sharpening and caring for cutting tools is a can be taught… even to young learners. [for a progression of knife use, see Jack’s video below]
  4. Ax safety when processing wood.

Cure #3: Take a Class

If it’s in your budget, take a wilderness survival class with your child. Money well spent if you choose a reputable instructor or school.

Photo credit ~ Iris Canterbury

Photo credit ~ Iris Canterbury

I smiled when I saw kids attending The Pathfinder School Basic Class last month with their dads and even a few granddads. They learned knife skills, foraging, fire craft, and other wilderness survival skills together and bonding over campfires. The experience is priceless!

Cure #4: Schedule Outdoor Adventures

Make a date with your child on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to get outside. Plan surprise doses of adventure in the city park, backyard, or state/national parks. Where ever nature is available, get out there!

Cure #5: Field Guides

Take a field guide and journal on adventures. Field guides are available covering a variety of outdoor interests like animals, birds, reptiles, plants, and trees. Sit quietly and observe nature and reference the guide to help identify what you’ve seen.

Jot down notes and sketches in your outdoor journal. A journal helps personalize outings, reinforces knowledge, and maps available resources. Can you remember the exact location of that patch of wild edibles you noticed while trekking? Jot it down in your journal.

Though Nature Deficit Disorder isn’t an official medical condition, it describes perfectly the costs of our modern disconnect with nature. When sitting around the Thanksgiving feast with your family in later years, your children and grandchildren won’t remember their best day of television. They will, however, remember the times you spent curing their NDD.

I leave you with a young man I admire for his adventuresome spirit and commitment to Doing the Wild Stuff.

Check out Jack on his YouTube channel Self Reliance Kid.

You won’t find WiFi in the wilderness… but be assured… you’ll be well-connected!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

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Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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