Being Part Of The Wilderness; Not Just Surviving It

My friend, author and outdoor educator, Kevin Callan recently added the above film to his YouTube channel.

It’s a little more serious than many of his offerings but I think it’s a great short film which reflects his deep love of wild places and accessing them by canoe.

For me, one of Kevin’s comments really stands out:

“It seems nowadays we have more people trying to survive out here, rather than be part of it.”

I think this is true; it’s in part due to to the largely urban developed-world population’s increasing disconnect from nature and, in part, stems from the media’s portayal as survival as entertainment.

If you stand back and think about the concept of unadulterated nature being completely alien to most people, you realise how far removed from wilderness we, as a society, have become.

It also illustrates why so many crave more nature in their lives.

The wilds are not somewhere to be feared; they are to be embraced.

Let us know what you think of Kevin’s film and message via the comments below…

The following two tabs change content below.
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.

Latest posts by Paul Kirtley (see all)

16 Responses

  1. Karl Colthup
    | Reply

    A very thought provoking piece, it is a sad fact that too many people seem t be going into the bush to “survive” the experience, likewise they see survival and bushcrafting skills as the sole purpose of going into the natural environment, rather than as a set of skills to make life more comfortable.
    They take pride in doing it harder, rather than smarter…
    As a side note, nearly all native languages lack a word for “Wilderness”, they just call it home, wilderness is a construct of an overly urbanised culture.

    Thanks for sharing this one,


    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hey Karl,

      Good to hear from you. I’m glad you found this thought provoking.

      Interesting point about words – or lack of – for wilderness.

      Thanks for your comment.

      All the best,


  2. Alan
    | Reply

    Lovely message in the short film Paul.
    It’s an irony that so many challenge themselves to go out and survive in the wilderness with an us against nature attitude, thus disconnecting themselves from many of the most rewarding reasons to be out there.
    Sure it’s good to have the skills and knowledge to look after yourself and these can certainly bring a deeper understanding of our surroundings but if people take the time to be part of nature they may well find that with the resulting further understanding it’s not so wild after all.
    Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the word wilderness is missing from native languages, because they are part of their surroundings instead of battling it, at home instead of the wild, as Karl says in the previous comment.
    Time has become a huge constraint in our modern western world and time in nature is often limited compared to native peoples but perhaps our biggest challenge is not nature itself but becoming part of it and spending time being at one with it, soaking up all that we miss when taking it on in a battle of survival, and I agree the medias portrayal of survival as entertainment isn’t helping.

  3. Alan Linee
    | Reply

    Ps, Thanks for sharing!

  4. Colette
    | Reply

    Glad that you shared this video! Getting back to Nature means reconnecting with Mother Earth who nurtures us, sustains us and inspires us. After spending time in the bush, I always feel replenished and my connection with my planet deeper and more meaningful. To fall asleep to the cry of the loon, to wake up to the song of warblers (yeah, at 4 a.m.), to canoe on quiet lakes, to smell the scent of pines, and hear nothing but the sound of the breeze in the canopies of the forest, that is paradise. Kevin’s message is profound, and I am glad that his daughter shares his passion. Hopefully, the young generation can carry on this message. As an aside, Gray Owl’s essays on the preservation of our natural environments are as relevant today as it was when he wrote them in 1935. (thank you England for sending him our way!) Cheers, Colette (Canada)

  5. Julian Cresswell
    | Reply


    Thanks for the link, it has a very harmonious quality to it, a partial antidote to Monday morning!

    I like Karl’s very astute gem that only we “civilised” world call the outdoors wilderness, the connotations carried with that word put fear and aggression to survive into everyone’s mind. I’ve named my Scout camps something exciting but not fearful by accident rather than design, but I’ll now be conscious of this perception, perpetuated perhaps by a certain Mr B Grylls and aim to show that working together with nature is more effective than struggling against because that really is a one-sided battle.

    By the way your old colleague Ray Mears was on Radio 2 with Graham Norton (although Radcliffe & Maconie told me it had closed down as I believe you’re a 6music fan too) discussing this very fact on Saturday; its on Radio Player/Iplayer.


  6. Jake Pyett
    | Reply

    What a great message! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing Paul.

  7. Russ
    | Reply

    Hi Paul,

    Been reading your blog for sometime now and wanted to say that I totally agree with your statements above.

    I do hope to attend your Elementary course as soon as I get some time off work.

    All the best to you and have a nice day.

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Russ,

      I’m glad this blog struck a chord with you.

      Hope to see you on a course before too long.

      Warm regards,


  8. Jon
    | Reply

    Hi , very thought provoking …..people today have forgotten what is truly valuable today , they think they need all the latest gadgets , a bigger house or car and no matter how much they earn …..they still seem to struggle and be chasing the next wage packet to pay for a lifestyle that when it boils down to it ……uses up their lives and gives them nothing but stress. As long as you/we/they have a roof over our heads , warmth and a few essentials and those we love around us ….what more does anyone truly need.

    I always feel sorry that as we as a society encroaches on our wild spaces in many cases for profit and greed ….we are losing a little of ourselves , how many in the course of their day rushing around chasing the £ do they notice the parent birds feeding their young , or the new shoots of wild plants growing and the wildlife they support , the sparrow hawk above the roadside Virgo as the speed by in their cars . I never feel more content or alive and happy than when I’m out in the countryside or the mountains ( both here in the UK or in the French Alps) …its a true shame many others never give it a thought

  9. Sam
    | Reply

    Lovely video but I think some of the comments are a little harsh on our fellow humans. I agree there’ll always be those for which the wonders of nature hold very little sway but I think there’s a divergence in modern times with more and more taking wilder paths and seeking fulfilment in being closer to nature’s rhythms. Maybe I’m blessed with a community full of pagans, bushcrafters, conservationists and small holders but I’ve noticed a definite shift. I was speaking to a total stranger about teaching my daughter safe swimming in our local river “Me too! Which spot do you use?” A few years ago I’d have had to search hard for that kind of response and it gives me great hope. As far as the survival element goes, those who try it as a latest fad will either grow to learn and appreciate her ways or give up once the next media avalanche of samey programming comes along. Personally I enjoy it because it compliments my other interests and it’s just a case of eating, sleeping and keeping as dry as humanly possible 😉

  10. Marcel (Buck) Lafond
    | Reply

    Kevin does worry too much. We are responsible to go out there. If no one follows, it’s their loss. These creatures are our brothers and sisters, a part of us, yes, but, we need to realize we are part of them. It’s not about taming them, it’s about being with them. They need to know that too.

    • Marcel (Buck) Lafond
      | Reply

      It’s not about tree hugging either, or joining PETA. It’s about using what they have to share with us, their pelts, their meat, their life if need be; but we need to show them the respect they deserve. It’s not about surviving at all. Survivors hope to find a way out. We are talking about a way in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.