My name is George Aitchison and Kevin has asked me to put up a post or two while he and Teres get to know their new baby daughter.
I was very pleased to hear the news yesterday of the birth of little Kelly. Congratulations to you all: I remember when my kids were born and how chuffed I felt.
I last posted for Kevin back in September of 2009. I am an outdoor pursuits instructor working with the Sea & Marine Cadets in the UK. My main passions in the area of outdoor instruction are bushcraft and mountaineering.
Kevin asked me to write a post about the blog I publish on my activities with the cadets (I have been a follower of Kevin’s blog since the beginning and it inspired me to create one of my own to show what we get up to, bushcraft-wise, in the Sea Cadets) but I thought it might be good to explain to you how my friendship with Kevin came about and how that has directly impacted on what we do today with the cadets.
I first met Kevin in 2005 at one of the BCUK Bushmoots where he was delivering classes on all the different ways of creating fire. Up to that point I had a general interest in bushcraft but was primarily focused on mountaineering.
I have always been fascinated with the art of making fire (very few bushcrafters are not in my experience) and this was one of Kevin’s specialities. I sat in on Kevin’s courses on using firesteels and the bowdrill. It was on the bowdrill course that I helped out a young lass who was very keen but struggling (it was quite a large class) and afterwards Kevin pulled me aside to say thanks for helping and asked if I would work with him at the next Bushmoot.
I was chuffed to be asked as I was very new to this scene and agreed to help, but it was not until after I had watched Kevin delivering his other classes (such as plant ID and pigeon prep) that I really realized this was a guy I could work with (and more importantly learn from). I think it was when he showed us how to make small toy boats out of reed leaves that swung it (must be a Sea Cadet thing).
In 2007 Kevin invited me and some fellow Sea Cadet instructors to his woods in the Fens for a weekend’s training. I was very keen to ‘sell’ this activity to my colleagues. Needless to say it was a complete success and thanks to this weekend I now have a great team of bushcraft-minded outdoor pursuit instructors in the Corps to work with.
I work a lot on military land, and one of the first things the MOD asks me when I book land to do a bushcraft course is what qualifications I hold in the subject. As I had worked with Kevin for a couple of years I felt I had gained enough experience to undertake an instructors’ course with Woodcraft School, and the knowledge I had gained from Kevin made my studies and assessments all the easier.
In the cadets we have run many courses now (including DofE bushcraft courses) for cadets and adults. One particularly memorable course in 2008 was at a site called Danemead (near Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire) where Kevin came along to assist me. I advertised the course saying that Kevin would be coming along – Kevin’s quote in his blog about it was – “Advertised as “one of the UK’s leading bushcraft and outdoor skills instructors” I felt a little nervous on Saturday morning but thankfully I would be working with “one of the UK’s second-best bushcraft instructors”……… ;>)” – I wonder, now that as Kevin is living abroad, does he now think I am the best instructor left in the UK? (me doubts it somehow) ;-)
Up until 2005 I liked to dabble in bushcraft but it was not until I was given the opportunity to work with Kevin that I saw myself as someone who could teach bushcraft to others. Working with Kevin at the Bushmoots and his site in the Fens in those early days gave me the confidence to explore bushcraft in more depth and pass that knowledge onto my cadets and adult colleagues.
One of the favourite pictures that I have of Kevin is the one I took of him and Mors Kochanski when Mors was over at the Bushmoot in 2008. Since then, as you know, Kevin went off to train with Mors and make a new life for himself and his family bushcrafting in Sweden.
One day I would love to take my kids over to Sweden to play and learn bushcraft with Kevin and his children.
Today in the cadets we are looking at the possibility of introducing an NCFE accredited bushcraft qualification for cadets that will map across to other qualifications such as the DofE and the BTEC qualification. That is for the future, but for now many of my cadets have had some great experiences in the world of bushcraft thanks to a chance encounter I had with Kevin many years ago.