Socially-distanced bushcraft

Over the coming weeks Wildwood is going to be offering free socially-distanced bushcraft sessions to families and social bubble groups – with a twist.

Bushcraft isn’t simply messing about in the woods; it is a fascinating learning opportunity for all ages with strong links to science and history, in particular. Maybe lock-down home-schooling didn’t go so well? Then again, perhaps it did! Either way, are you a family that likes to have fun outdoors and learn something new at the same time?

A fun form of learning

We’ve put together a programme of bushcraft activities that range from easy to challenging, all of which are chances to learn new skills. When we advertise them we’ll mention some of the learning opportunities and even their links to school curriculum subjects, so that you can see in advance the opportunities on offer. Some activities we will repeat because they are too popular and too much fun to not – like firelighting! Others will be one-offs for now but may return another time – like making a hot-smoker!

Suitable for children and adults together

Some will be suitable for most ages from around 6 and above, others may require more fine-motor skills and a different level of interest. We will let you know what we think. It might even appeal to Mum or Dad. It definitely will be something you can share as a family.

Resources

We will provide resources where we can, but to maintain hygiene and also to enable use of limited materials we will ask you to bring in some things of your own, for example, on different occasions – scissors, a sharp knife, a blunt knife, a jam jar, a clean-washed baked-beans tin. We will state specifically in advance what we will provide and what you need to bring. Intrigued and up for it?

How to get involved

Book your visit to Wildwood to coincide with a particular activity. When you enter the park tell the shop that you want to do bushcraft as a family or social bubble (up to 10 people per session) and they will give you a time slot. The sessions are going to last 25-30 minutes, allowing for a hygienic change-over. Only one family or social group can participate at a time. Don’t forget to bring any materials required for the session that we can’t supply or it won’t be possible to participate.

Where are the sessions?

We have a dedicated outdoor bushcraft area with seating and a pitched roof immediately next to the Reptile House, it’s obvious when you see it. Please wait there at the gate and we will let you in.

When are the sessions?

Sessions will be on a first come, first served basis. Please be there at the time appointed to you by the shop when you turn up at Wildwood. We will wait up to 5 minutes after your session begins but then we will close and you will miss your session, as there needs to be a regular turnaround throughout the day.

Morning/Afternoon:
Session 1: 10.30-11.00 Session 5: 2.00-2.30
Session 2: 11.00-11.30 Session 6: 2.30-3.00
Session 3: 11.30-12.00 Session 7: 3.00-3.30
Session 4: 12.00-12.30 Session 8: 3.30-4.00

Schedule

Week 1

Wednesday August 5th
Firelighting
Materials; cotton pads & firesteels – supplied
Visitors bring; themselves
Learning outcomes – fire-lighting and fire-safety skills – ancient use of a flint and steel (history) – what charcloth (language) is and how made (science) – how natural materials make tinders (nature/fungi/ plant uses (ethnobotany).

Thursday August 6th
Making nettle cordage/string
Materials; dried stinging nettles, wilted stinging nettles, gloves
Visitors bring; themselves
Learning outcomes – how string is made (science/ practical skills/ plant uses (ethnobotany)/ self-resourcing)

Week 2:

Wednesday August 12th
Firelighting
Materials; cotton pads & firesteels – supplied
Visitors bring; themselves
Learning outcomes – fire-lighting and fire-safety skills – ancient use of a flint and steel (history) – what charcloth (language) is and how made (science) – how natural materials make tinders (nature/fungi/ plant uses (ethnobotany).

Thursday August 13th
Making charcloth tinder
Materials; old tin with lid or tin can, storage tin, cotton material, a fire
Visitors bring; clean baked beans type tin no label, old cotton T-shirt, or piece of sheet
Learning outcomes – what charcloth (language) is and how made (science) – how fires were lit in the past (history) – plus (fire-safety and bushcraft skills)

Week 3:

Wednesday August 19th
Firelighting
Materials; cotton pads & firesteels – supplied
Visitors bring; themselves
Learning outcomes – fire-lighting and fire-safety skills – ancient use of a flint and steel (history) – what charcloth (language) is and how made (science) – how natural materials make tinders (nature/fungi/ plant uses (ethnobotany).

Thursday August 20th
Trollen braiding
Materials; Pre-made cardboard disks with 8 slots and central hole, 7 strands of wool of different colours
Visitors bring; coloured wool balls
Learning outcomes – a weaving craft (practical skills) using an ancient technique (history)

Week 4:

Wednesday August 26th
Firelighting
Materials; cotton pads & firesteels – supplied
Visitors bring; themselves
Learning outcomes – fire-lighting and fire-safety skills – ancient use of a flint and steel (history) – what charcloth (language) is and how made (science) – how natural materials make tinders (nature/fungi/ plant uses (ethnobotany).

Thursday August 27th
Dutch/French arrows
Materials; sticks, paper, string
Visitors bring; sharp whittling knife/ penknife to cut into a stick
Learning outcomes – whittling skills – ancient use arrows and atlatls (history) – the purpose of flights and how they work, aerodynamics (science) – how this relates to nature (nature/wild animals).

Week 5:

Wednesday September 2nd
Firelighting
Materials; cotton pads & firesteels – supplied
Visitors bring; themselves
Learning outcomes – fire-lighting and fire-safety skills – ancient use of a flint and steel (history) – what charcloth (language) is and how made (science) – how natural materials make tinders (nature/fungi/ plant uses (ethnobotany).

Thursday September 3rd
Making Oak Gall Ink
Materials; Oak galls, water, white vinegar, honey, rusty items, ferrous sulphate; goose feathers
Visitors bring; small jam jar, some rusty nails or similar, sharp pen knife/ knives
Learning outcomes – How to make ink (science/ practical skills/ resourcefulness) – how ink was made in the past (history) – about how oak galls are made (natural history/ science) – how to make a quill pen (practical skills/ history) – where pen knives come from (history)