Bushcraftage – Shelter

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).

Shelter 5

A happy result

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.

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Getting the basics

Shelter 1

Snuggled without a fire

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.

Shelter 2

Snuggled with a fire

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:

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Mereworth missile on an extension pole

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.

Parachute 2

Good teamwork

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 .

Hammock 1

Set up

Makes for a great picture.

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Camp set up

Quite a few cadets really dislike sleeping in tents now – I wonder why :-)

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Hammock or the ground – Which is best – hmmmmmm!!!!

Snug as a bug in a rug.

Hammock 2

Good morning world

Sometimes we experiment. This is a freestanding hammock stand.

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No trees

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.

Cheers

George

Bushcraft Days

Bushcraft the Sea Cadet way

I have been involved in teaching outdoor pursuits to Sea Cadets now for over 10 years, mainly focussed on land-based activities (though I’ve been known from time to time to get a toe or two wet in some sort of boating activities).

I am very keen to bring Bushcraft into the Adventurous Training part of the Sea Cadets. Camping is more than setting up your tent, getting your gas stove on for a brew and studying your map for the next day’s route. It is about these basics but to me it is also about having adventures and explorations where you have fun and learn at the same time.

So here is some evidence of fun and learning taken from recent Sea Cadet weekends.

Note the lovely path

Note the lovely path

Room for anymore

Room for anymore

Jungle prison

Jungle prison

Making up Sisal tinder bundles (its the Navy way)

Making up Sisal tinder bundles (it's the Navy way)

First the instructors need to learn

First the instructors need to learn

Then the cadets

Then the cadets

Eventually

Oops, there goes the drill piece

They always get there when they work together

They always get there when they work together

Happy city kids

Happy Bushcrafters

Even the young ones get in on the act

Even the young ones get in on the act

And don't give up when the flames go out

And don't give up when the flames go out

Kevin the master at work

Kevin the master at work teaching

Well done Chris

Well done Chris

One of kevins toys in action

One of Kevin's toys in action

After fires are lit it is time to cook

After fires are lit it is time to cook

Pudding anyone

Pudding anyone?

Yum

Yum

Back to the adults learning again

Back to the adults learning again

And taking it easy. Perrys first night out in a shelter (my boss)

And taking it easy. Perry's first night out in a shelter (my boss)

All the instructors are taught how to use the Atl atl

All the instructors are taught how to use the Atl atl

Then the kids have a bash

Then the cadets have a bash

Stalking games are always a hit

Stalking games are always a hit

Some serious knife safety lessons

Some serious knife safety lessons

Sometimes not so serious

Sometimes not so serious

Elbows on knees and the cadets have a go

Elbows on knees and the cadets have a go

Whimmy Diddle. One of Mors Kochanski's toys

Whimmy Diddle. One of Mors Kochanski's toys

Grass mat making

Grass mat making for bed time

Not forgetting Marsh Mallows before bed

Not forgetting toasted marshmallows before bed

I hope you enjoyed the Sea Cadet tour?

My next posts will be about making a bone knife, followed by a bark sheath for it.

George