Following on from my last post about what we get up to in the Sea Cadets with bushcraft I thought I might go into a bit more detail on some of the areas we cover.
I tend to cover all the basics with the cadets and staff, such as shelter, fire, food, tools and games. Sounds a bit like the survival basics of shelter, water fire and food I know. I have though learned from looking at my pictures that I do not cover the skill of water purification too much with cadets – must be because it rains a lot here :-)
This post focuses on areas we teach the cadets on how to set up some form of shelter.
When I started teaching cadets, campcraft was all about setting up tents, and at most showing cadets all the different types of tent. I felt it could encompass so much more than this, so started to teach cadets about some of the shelters I’d built as a child. One of the things that most struck me about working with Sea Cadets was that they were always taught and shown how sailors slept in hammocks on board ship: to me it was a logical step from this to introducing them to hammocks in the woods. I had never slept in a hammock before I joined the Sea Cadets, but now I will do anything to avoid sleeping on the ground (unless it is on a spruce bough bed).
I always like to teach using only positives. We discuss the need for shelter and look at the resources available to us then I ask the cadets to build something in groups. After they have built their shelters all the cadets discuss each others’ shelters, but they are only allowed to give positive feedback. From these positive learnings we set them off again to build another shelter and I always find the differences amazing.
Weather permitting, I will offer cadets the chance to sleep in a shelter that I think is of a good enough standard. I do love to listen to them in the morning telling their friends of all the noises they heard in the night. If the weather is too bad (for example, heavy rain) the cadets don’t sleep in the shelter but I leave some pots in there instead to see if they leak, and to prove how good they can be.
When we set up camp I like to get the cadets involved as much as possible and one of the tasks that I find a chore but the cadets love is to help put up the parachute under which we have our group fire. It can be fun getting the line up into the trees:
It is a good leadership task to set them and after it is set up I find they do appreciate sitting under the chute more.
All the cadets who come on a bushcraft course now know we have hammocks they can use. Some have even bought their own which is great to see. It was with a heavy heart three weeks ago I had to tell the cadets on a course I was running that because of the high winds that weekend they would not be offered the chance to sleep in hammocks. Sometimes you have to make decisions that not everybody is happy with but luckily that is rare. When they do get the chance I always have more volunteers than hammocks (I have fifteen now).
They have to set up their own hammocks under supervision .
Makes for a great picture.
Quite a few cadets really dislike sleeping in tents now – I wonder why :-)
Snug as a bug in a rug.
Sometimes we experiment. This is a freestanding hammock stand.
We have to raise funds for all the equipment we buy as the Sea Cadets are a registered charity. I ran a charity bushcraft course last year that helped to pay for some of these hammocks. Also I received an award from the Jack Petchey Foundation that went towards the equipment we use.
Once you’ve sorted your shelter, you need a good cup of tea: the next blog will cover what happens when cadets start to play with fire.