Natural Pathways WoodsThe Family Bushcraft Weekend at Natural Pathways has been designed to give a taste of survival living while increasing your connection to nature. And that’s exactly what it did for 15 Bushcrafters in July. It seems every part of the weekend was enjoyed by the six adults and nine children – everything that is except the toilet!

Ewok VillageThe first step to reconnect with nature – and get your survival knowledge off to a comfortable start – is to build a debris shelter. These home-from-homes in the woods ranged from the smallest one man bivvy type shelter to larger shelters for the whole family. And even though it rained on the Saturday night, most Bushcrafters were warm and dry, snug in their debris shelters.

Debris Shelter BuildingHere’s Hannah explaining how to do it before we all got stuck in.

A shelters all well and good to keep you warm and dry, but for cooking you need a fire.

In a survival situation it’s easy enough to get a fire lit, if you have the right ingredients. After Hannah’s demonstration it wasn’t long before the children had the fire blazing ready for tea!

Camp Fire DinnerAnd what a gorgeous dinner we had, topped off with chocolate bananas and toasted marshmallows.

With the survival basics under our belts, and a comfy debris shelter to curl up in later, the games got under way.

The sun had set; darkness crept silently through the woods as we ate our chocolate bananas. As the light faded and the fire warmed our faces, the children camouflaged theirs with charcoal.

Fire Stalk CamouflageThe aim of the game was simple. Walk out into the dark woods and stalk back to the fire to retrieve the treasure – the treasure being glow sticks.

The youngest child was about six and the oldest about 14. There was a possibility some would be nervous about being in the woods at night, trying to be as quiet as possible with all kinds of creatures in the dark. But no! They took to the game with such gusto it didn’t stop until way past midnight.

The thing is, they loved it! They loved the dark, they loved scaring each other with ever more grisly ghost stories; they ran through the woods with such wildness it was amazing they never ran into a tree!

When asked what the best bits were, the Family Bushcraft participants had this to say:

The shelters were very comfortable and a valuable experience.

…overcoming challenges, learning new skills and being out of the city

…becoming more familiar with nature again

But, overwhelmingly, the younger bushcrafters all agreed – the Fire Stalk was interesting and the most fun. So, it’s truw – children love adventure and adventure in nature is good for the soul.

The next Family Bushcraft Weekend begins on August 14th 2009. See you in the woods!