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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Bushcraft Babies; Risk Awareness (Knives)

"Rather than hijacking the blog as she usually does today Sallie is sharing some of her experiences of how our children cope with the risks associated with bushcraft" Geoff  

Me enjoying the outdoors and campfire cake with my children.
As the mother of 'bushcraft babies' I often get asked if I don't think I'm being irresponsible by letting my children handle knives and pick wild food and if I worry about their safety when they are taking part in these activities.

My answer will always be "NO!

In fact I would almost feel irresponsible if I didn't encourage my children to take part in these activities and provide supervision and instruction and help my children learn how to use knives safely and how to find the wonderful free food in our countryside.  

We do not however just hand them a knife and let them run off and play with it, or send them into the woods to find their lunch on their own. My husband and I believe that there are certain things our children must do before we will allow them to take part in bushcraft activities that involve knives and tools or other potentially dangerous/risky activities. 

Starting with knives;
Our oldest son received his first knife when he was three and as this does seem quite young I should clarify that he didn't have unrestricted access to his knife at all times. The first projects he tried all had a lot of input from Geoff or I and before he, or Lillie when she became old enough, were allowed to use a knife on their own.

Working on one of Michael's earliest whittling projects while Lillie looks on. 
Lillie using a knife in the kitchen. 

Before letting our children use knives we have to be entirely satisfied that they would listen to and obey instructions otherwise we couldn't risk giving them knives in the first place. We have a few strategies to make using knives as safe as possible for our children, we try and make sure they stay at a particular work station while they are using knives, something like a log that they can lean on, this means they are less likely to rest what they are working on on their leg or hold it in the palm of their hand while they try and work on it. Even adults need reminding of things this simple from time to time.

We make sure they know that knives are tools and just like other tools, when they are not being used they stay with the other tools in the shed or tool box.    

It will be a while before they graduate on to using the chainsaw's for real. 

We have just added the first Bushcraftbabies episode to the Bushcraft Education Youtube channel  sharing ideas for outdoor, nature and bushcraft related play with children. Check out the first episode here; 

Next time you hear from me it will be about the risks associated with foraging and wild food.


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