Staff Training Camp: Back To Bushcraft Basics

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While we run courses and trips year round, the majority of our open courses take place in Spring, Summer and early Autumn, with this course season really kicking off around Easter.

In preparation for this, every Spring the Frontier Bushcraft team gather together for a pre-season training camp. It’s a time when the old hands can reunite after the winter, sharing tales of recent adventures (which this winter included plenty of hiking, a ski tour in Norway and a minimalist ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro). It’s an opportunity for new members of the team to be welcomed and integrated into the wider team. It’s an important opportunity for me to set development goals and highlight themes for our course delivery for the year.

The main focus is on honing the skill set we need to ensure the wilderness bushcraft skills training provided by Frontier Bushcraft is amongst the finest available.

Developing a cadre of highly capable instructors and course assistants is not just about bushcraft skills, it’s about developing teaching and coaching skills, outdoor leadership, client care, forethought, initiative and communication. It’s about having systems in place, slick logistics and a common understanding of what we do and how we do it. It’s about engraining high standards.

Emergency procedures are practiced, discussed and refreshed. First aid forms a core component of our pre-season training. I’ve written about the first aid training we undertake and why in a separate blog post, which you can read here.

Back To Bushcraft Basics

Whatever the extent of your skills or the depth of your knowledge, there is value in revisiting the basics. This is something I learned through many years of martial arts training; the basics are the foundations on which everything else is built.

Moreover, going back to basics in the light of a broader understanding of a subject often affords new insights, which weren’t available to you when you first approached the subject as a beginner.

As mentioned above, it’s not just about owning the skills. Deconstructing the techniques we teach affords a better understanding of the elements which need to be highlighted when teaching.

Combining this deconstruction with guidance from experienced instructors allows the more junior members of the team to understand why certain elements are emphasised. Discussions around teaching methods extends everyone’s ability to tailor their instruction to the group or the individuals being coached in the skills. This approach better enables the desired outcome of having the course students being as capable and knowledgeable as possible by the end of the course and, in the process, giving them excellent value for money.

A focus on the foundations also allows the newer members of the team to gain an understanding of the standards required.

So it was, following an orientation period of a couple of days for the newcomers to become familiar with the course equipment and the extent of our main course venue (it’s very large and varied), then some intensive and realistic first aid training, we set about examining and honing key foundational bushcraft techniques.

If this were not a great enough reason to be out in the woods, we were also blessed with some fantastic Spring weather.

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Frontier Bushcraft Team Training

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Our enthusiastic and highly motivated team look forward to sharing their skills and knowledge through the 2014 course season and beyond…

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Paul Kirtley is Founder and Chief Instructor of Frontier Bushcraft. He has had a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and gains great satisfaction from helping others enjoy it too. Paul writes the UK's leading bushcraft blog. He is the author of Wilderness Axe Skills and Campcraft, as well as having contributed to several other books. Paul has been involved in teaching bushcraft since 2003. He is also a Canoe Leader, British Canoeing Level 3 Canoe Coach and UK Summer Mountain Leader.

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12 Responses

  1. Liam gadd
    | Reply

    It does show the value of revisiting the basic knowledge, it is important to show that. There are too many stories I’ve heard (some examples I’ve seen elsewhere) about people who have done it once and think they can do it whenever. Ie because they cracked it they think that’s it. I know from personal experience that when you have done something before then fail to do it when it you call on that skill again is very demoralising. Plus it looks like great fun for all the team!

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Liam,

      It’s good to hear from you – it’s been a little while.

      Yes, practice makes permanent (and perfect practice makes perfect).

      All the best,


  2. Paul
    | Reply

    Love the whiteboard with just
    “James rules of feather sticks”

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Can you still remember them Paul? 🙂

      • Paul Shakesby
        | Reply

        Thin necks
        Thin necks
        Thin necks!!

        • Paul Kirtley
          | Reply

          That’s one of the five. It’s certainly one worth repeating though 🙂

  3. Ruud
    | Reply

    Hi Paul

    As a future course-attendant these articles are wanting me to invent a time-machine, fast-forward to August! 🙂

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hey Ruud,

      I’m sure it’ll come around fast enough 🙂

      Looking forward to meeting you.

      Warm regards,


  4. Andre Botha
    | Reply

    Hi Paul, I would like to know if your frontier Bushcraft T-shirts are for sale, or only available when doing a course with you? If they are for sale, could you forward me a pricelist? Thx, and regards, Andre’ Botha in Durban, South Africa.

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      HI Andre,

      Thanks for your comment and your interest in Frontier Bushcraft T-shirts! They are actually only currently available to members of the Frontier Bushcraft team.

      If we make a version available for sale we’ll certainly publicise it. Make sure you’re on our mailing list of updates (if you’re not already).

      Warm regards,


  5. Dave Howard
    | Reply

    Looks like a really good time was had at these revision sessions. i love the fact that your team stay motivated, always well practiced in their bush-crafts and teaching skills and knowledge of first aid.
    Your course attendees are lucky to have such a fantastic team to learn from.
    All the best, Dave.

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