So the aim of the course was to Immerse us all into the Forest and get us as close to wildlife as possible. This included learning some field-craft, basic tracking and some bushcraft skills.
Before learning a new skill the basis for learning that particular skill was explained, this enabled a clear understanding of why and how the skill worked and what it was to be used for.
Next you were given an exercise to put your newly learnt skill to the test.
It was then back to camp for a debrief, a quick brew and then bed.
Some of the skills that we were taught included, adapting your eyes to night vision, the 8 S’s, Spore and signs, trails and runs, field craft skills to name but a few. All of this was in preparation for the evenings experience to come.
The idea was at the end of the day after learning the skills taught to us by JP and Pablo we would pick our own spot to layup, setup camp and really Immerse our selves individually into the Forest.
I have been too many Bushcraft meets and done my fair share of wild camping but this was different. Usually you have the social aspect, a few beers and you’re always within a few meters of someone else. In this case you were on your own, no beer, just you and the forest inhabitants. Whilst cooking tea a couple of small rodents moved through the leaves and up on to a branch just a couple of meters away from me where they had a little Gnaw on the branch then disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. On reflection I think that once you have been in the forest some time and slowed right down I believe you are in a semi zoned in state by default, the little rodents really didn’t care that I was sat there cooking tea. After zoning in and Immersing yourself into the surroundings for the evening, when darkness fell it was off to bed.
(Its worth mentioning that although you were camping on your own you were always within whistle distance from the instructors or another student, sound travels a long way in the forest at night. The instructor also GPS marked everyone’s location and of course you had the good old mobile phone at hand if needed).
From these findings you can plot animal movements along with possible cause and effect for these movements.For the rest of the day we put into practice some of the skills that we had learnt as well as some sensory exercises. One of these involved being taken into the middle of the woods, taking your shoes and socks off, being blind folded, disorientated and then told to listen for a sound that you must make your way too. In-case you wish to try this yourself I won’t go into details of what I experienced but needless to say I didn’t walk into any trees… After this particular exercise we were sent off to zone in for 20 minutes, Wow did I feel relaxed after that.