The following post was written by Woodlore’s Quartermaster and Aspirant Instructor Keith Whitehead:
I’m sometimes asked during the winter months if things at Woodlore are quiet. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s true that our UK season has wound down following the end of the Journeyman Course, but there is still work to do and adventure to plan.
One of my first tasks as Quartermaster is to organise the course equipment so that it is ready for the next season. This, as you might imagine, takes some time and, sometimes, during the process of organising and sorting through the stores, I come across a lost gem that sparks the imagination. One such gem is an old catapult. When I first set eyes on it, there was a glimmer of a memory from years ago and I recognised it as being the same item pictured in The Survival Handbook, written by Raymond Mears in 1990. I received the book as a present soon after its publication and was immediately enthralled by it. This was to be one of the stepping-stones that led me to Woodlore and started my journey with the company.
Some years after reading the book I found myself standing with my brother and fourteen others in a field in East Sussex. We had all signed up to join the Fundamental Bushcraft course and the thrill of nerves and excitement was palpable as we waited to be met by our instructors for the week. Spot on time, the 4-wheel drives came through the gate and several smiling woodsmen alighted. We were transported to site, set up camp and the week that we had looked forward to for so long started.
What a week it was! Thinking back, I still remember the range of emotions that I went through. The pace of learning was fast but not too much so, creating a feeling of energy rather than being overwhelming. The challenges were stretching but never out of reach; the experience inspiring, motivating and thoroughly enjoyable. I was by turns, exhausted and exhilarated, anxious and elated. Each day saw my understanding of both the natural world and myself change. It was truly enlightening and changed my view of the world forever. I knew at the end of the course that I had to be involved with this world and so, to cut a long story short, I now find myself on the other side of the fence.
So do I feel any different now that I lead courses rather than being a student on them? The short answer is no. I still have the same thrill of expectation when each new group arrives and I passionately want them to have the same incredible experience that I had. I still learn with every week that I spend out in the woods and still enjoy watching people change as they start to experience the world through the eyes of Woodlore. I know that these are experiences shared by the rest of the Woodlore team and this is at the core of what drives us to offer the very best training available.
These are unique opportunities for us and the students that we teach. Grasp the moment, start your own journey with us and change your world forever. If not now, then when?
– Keith Whitehead