The Woodcraft Skills Workshop Series is designed as four daily workshops. The curriculum can be tailored to the needs of the workshop group. The primary topics for the workshop are outlined below, though any woodcraft skill may be explored. Each topic will be interspersed with nature awareness activities that are designed to stretch the senses and energize the body. The schedule for the workshops is flexible, from four or five consecutive days to one day per week over consecutive weeks.
Day 1: Introduction to Woodcraft Skills
The Bare Necessities
What can we learn from Baloo in Disney’s film adaptation of the Jungle Book as it relates to self care in nature? What are our body’s bare necessities that we must be prepared to address on a daily basis. These bare necessities take on a greater importance when we venture away from the comforts and security of home.
The Overnight Daypack
Does your daypack gear work as well for an unexpected overnight as it does for handling the challenges of a day hike? A few minor substitutions of the modern concepts of what to carry in a day pack will provide significant advantages if the day hike turns into an overnight excursion.
Knife Safety, Use and Maintenance
Is a sharp knife really a safe knife? We will look at how to use a knife safely and why a sharp knife is indeed safer to use. Then, we will learn how to make your knife sharp and keep it sharp. We will then explore techniques for using a sharp knife effectively and safely.
The students will have the opportunity to experiment with various methods of making a fire, from the older methods of friction fire all the way to the modern matches and lighters. We will provide the friction fire sets as well as the materials for the more modern methods of generating fire.
Friction Fire Demonstration
The instructors will demonstrate a bow drill Friction fire; from a branch harvested from a tree or bush to the warmth giving campfire. The demonstration will provide an understanding of the knife use techniques that will be necessary for the students to make their own friction fire sets on day three of this workshop series.
All through the experimentations, the students will experience fire safety methods that will keep them from burning themselves or other materials that may create out-of-control situations.
Scout manuals from the 1970’s and earlier made a statement, “Never let it be said, and to your shame that all was better before you came.” We will discuss methods for not only leaving a place as it was found but also methods for improving an area. Appropriate outdoor ethics can benefit all users of the backcountry and gives the users of these ethics a sense of self appreciation for leaving a space such that others will be able to enjoy the area as well.
Day 2: Shelter Craft
The Natural Materials “Fort”
If you use your awareness, nature can often provide all that is needed to stay warm and dry when the weather turns sour. The starting point of this awareness is focused on the weather to know how eminently a shelter will be needed. Then, once it becomes obvious that shelter of some sort is needed, the next step is to creatively use what is available in nature to create that little “fort” the will keep you warm and dry.
When inclement weather looms overhead, a few versatile items from your Overnight Daypack may save the experience. Fast moving weather does not always provide an opportunity to make a cozy home from natural materials, so a well prepared daypack with versatile gear combined with a bit of rope craft and outdoor savvy will provide a quality shelter in a matter of minutes.
Rope craft is a foundation skill of shelter building when using a piece of flat fabric. With seven basic knots, you will be able to manage many of the backcountry needs you may face.
Day 3: Friction Fire
Friction Fire Sets
Friction fire is an incredible confidence builder. This day will be all about fire with a heavy emphasis on friction fire. The students will have had practice time with their knife skills at home. This day, which focuses on friction fire, will allow them to put the knife skills to use in making a fire from sticks. As students gain success, they will have the opportunity to practice further with less coaching from the instructors. The students may also find themselves learn through teaching.
Fire Safety, Use and Maintenance
Throughout this day we will build on the fire safety that was presented on Day 1 – from preparing the area for a fire location, to preparing the fire lay and igniting the fire and then how to act around the fire so that burn injuries are avoided.
The students will learn how to maintain a fire such that it will be as smoke free as possible. Additionally, various fire lays will be presented and discussed based on their particular merits for the various uses of a fire, such as cooking fires or warmth fires.
Optional Campfire Lunch
We have the option of putting our fire craft skills to use by preparing our lunch for the day over the campfire. A bit of advance coordination with the parents is all that will be necessary for this confidence building activity to take place.
Day 4: Plant Craft
Many backcountry camping skills rely heavily on nature and have plant craft as a root skill, since it is the plants that provide most of the resources that make it possible for us to stay comfortable and happy in nature. After three days of practicing skills, the students will have a keen understanding of what the plants provide. With this understanding, the students will be able to see the plant provided resources more easily as we travel through nature.
Optional Campfire Dinner
An amazing finish to this workshop series is to allow the youth to prepare a campfire cooked meal for the parents. It gives them a challenge, that when complete will provide a sense of accomplish. It gives the parents an opportunity to step back and watch as their youngsters gain the ability and confidence to be providers. The benefits provided by this activity – to both the parents and children – allow for a unique family bonding experience.