Well, quite simply I enjoy bushcraft, I love my kids, and I figured those two things could go together! I firmly believe that the great outdoors is an inexhaustible playground of interesting, adventurous, beautiful, hilarious and life enriching possibilities. On that basis I try and spend as much time as possible doing fun stuff outside with my kids.
Principally it requires only personal inclination and a reliable way to get out of the house (like a front door). I have enjoyed playing outside since I was a small boy, and it is wonderful to have imaginative energetic playmates in the shape of my own kids to adventure with locally. Sometimes we make it as far as the back garden and maybe construct a miniature bosuns chair between raised beds using pulleys and a bit of paracord, or a zip-line for Teddy to hurtle across the back yard.
We have learned about splitting firewood, and stacking it. Transport logistics between chopping block and woodpile taken care of using a yellow plastic dumper truck. We recently experimented with a Swedish Fire Torch, which kind of worked, but demonstrated that Bushcraft Dad has plenty left to learn!
Often we take to the local common or to Richmond Park, wonderful outdoor spaces on our doorstep with acres of woodland and open space to observe nature and scamper around endless obstacles. Climbing trees or making a temporary rope swing is great fun, and gives an opportunity to help the kids analyse risk and consider safety in a very logical way. As a first aider I always carry a small kit, but rarely have need to use it. The kids are increasingly adept at identifying what is a fun activity and what is too risky, and I am always on hand to clarify!
A tarp and a groundsheet mean that we are prepared for snacking in all weather, and can often be found in some snug hollow enjoying hot chocolate and something to munch.
Making things from natural materials is a favourite pass time, whether it is twisting dry grass into rope, whittling walking sticks, or making mini-shelters from twigs and leaves, there is always something lying around with potential.
Treasure hunts are a cherished way we liven up a stroll, and novel hiding places keep the kids guessing. In the absence of huskies I have also discovered that harnessing the family to the front of a home made Jeep go-kart and taking it for a spin around the park with alternating junior drivers is a comedy way of exercising the young uns’, and does generate some memorable expressions amongst passers-by!
Admittedly many of these activities are not strictly ‘bushcraft’, but are undertaken with an inclination toward engaging with the natural environment, hence wilderness skills are very helpful in enabling us to do more outdoors.
It’s important to know what you can and can’t legally do in public spaces, but there is plenty of scope for fun within the law. For more adventurous activities involving blades, fire, and wild cooking, I run Wild Ventures on a private estate an hour away in Sussex (click here if you’d like to know more).
So, here’s to more outdoor play for children and adults alike! Bushcraft Dads and Bushcraft Mums, the wild is calling …