I've just spent a weekend at a festival teaching people about the history of fire lighting skills and it occurred to me how many times families and groups came up to have a go at what I was teaching and how surprised some of them were at how accessible the crafts were and how easy it was to get the grounding in the basics of fire lighting this got me thinking about how I came into bushcraft.
My view from an early age was a single individual walking into the woods and surviving and enjoying the environment and building their skills through repetition and testing themselves. This was based on TV shows, books, films and other media and it was always a man on his own with a rucksack in the wild. What I've come to find as I've started teaching bushcraft is it's so much more fun when you're teaching somebody or a group of people.
As a species homo sapiens got to where we are because of how hypersocial we are, we form extended groups that are broader than our families and we pool resources, knowledge and skills, a unique ability which led to our civilization as it is now. For 350,000 years of our evolution we were and are still optimised to work best when we're in groups, this stands in direct opposition to how a lot of bushcraft used to be shown in the media. Thankfully there is a real shift to more gender parity and inclusion now which is wonderful but there is still an embedded idea of one man being self-sufficient going into the woods on their own which seems to be in the public consciousness.
Being out in the natural environment with other people, enjoying it with them, showing them something they might not see otherwise and spending time together enjoying the crafts and skills is the bushcraft I enjoy most. The sharing of knowledge and sense of common purpose which I think is uniquely human gives me a real kick out of doing what I do.
I think with the modern world the way it is, with most people spending the majority of their time indoors or in an urban environment even the smallest excursion into the natural world can bring huge benefits and there shouldn't be any barriers to that around how much skill or kit you have. Simply taking a walk and stepping off the beaten track can give you some exposure to the environment you might not get otherwise and you don't even have to camp overnight to enjoy a little bit of what is on offer. Simply setting a tent and having a camp stove for a cup of tea in the evening and watching the sun go down gives an enormous sense of well being and when that wellbeing is shared with others its multiplied.
I know a lot of practitioners of bushcraft will absolutely agree with me that sharing the knowledge is what it's all about and that's a wonderful thing but if you're reading this and worried that you don't know anyone to help you get outdoors or don't have the right gear the right rucksack or a wild enough environment around to do it "properly" don't fret, find somewhere with just a little bit of nature still surviving, take something warm to wear and to drink and just sit and enjoy the environment. If you have something more, a tarp, a tent, a camp stove or a little bit of knowledge absolutely bring that along too and maybe bring someone else with you and share what you know, build on that knowledge together and enjoy the environment together. We are a hyper social species, we can't help but get others involved in what we love and that for me is what bushcraft is all about