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Monday, 20 January 2014

Adapt and Overcome; 58 Pattern shower curtain and other improvisations

It is my opinion that to successfully practice bushcraft you must have a great imagination and be able to press into use all manner of 'junk' to perform a task which you may not have a tool for. Like this 58 pattern British army poncho being pressed into use as a shower curtain when mine broke the other day. There's plenty of improvisations in bushcraft, water filters made out of cans, wire wool for fire lighting, knives made out of old files and saw blades to name a few. Some might say that using these things is not 'traditional' or 'pure' but I would argue that bushcraft is neither traditional nor pure, although it has the potential to be a vehicle for teaching about traditional and/or primitive skills it is a relatively new discipline. Bushcraft is an amalgamation of military survival skills, traditional skills from all around the globe and modern expertise and tools; take the bow drill as an example, there are no examples of the bow drill being used traditionally anywhere, the addition of a bow and string to rotate a drill is a modern invention. When ever I deliver an extended bushcraft course the first session always includes a lesson on improvisation and adaptation. Some of the improvisations projects that they can undertake include;

Survival Tasks
Improvised Equipment
Collect and boil Water
·         plastic bag
·         hat (using hot stones)
·         empty cans
Light Fire
·         battery
·         Magnetised needle
Carry you gear
·         blanket used as a Hudson bay pack
  •  empty cans
  • coke can/hobo stove
 catch food
  •  wire for snares
  • string f or raisin line
  • safety pins for fish hooks

these activities are also an excellent opportunity to teach the principle of 'reuse, recycle, repurpose' popular in environmental education. check out my post from a few months ago on making knives and tools from broken saw blades.

What follows is an example of a lesson plan for one of those 'improvisation' sessions, this particular session is the first or second weekly, hour long session of a 6 month bushcraft course delivered to silver Duke of Edinburghs Award Participants as the 'skill' section of their award;

·         Students will learn to improvise various useful implements from simple everyday items with minimal or no tools.
·         Students will learn by taking part in a number of projects to improvise useful items to look for anything that may be useful in their surroundings and how to think positively in an emergency/survival situation.
5 mins
Intro and setup
Sets the scene, with no equipment how will you survive?
Will role play as 'survivors'
See resource list above
Students will  
5 mins
Creative thinking
Take learners suggestions as to what the items they have at their disposal can be used for
Suggest uses for the items they have
See resource list above
Students must come up with at least one use for each item.
30-40 mins
Improvisation project
Picks one or two projects dependant on time and instructs learners in the improvisation of for example a coke can stove
create a useable item from the available 'junk'
See resource list above
Creation of useful implement from everyday items
10-15 mins

Use the newly created implement to fulfil a survival need
Basic tasks that can be performed are listed below.
Carry out basic survival tasks.
See resource list above
Students will use the items they have created to fulfil a need. 

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