With the upcoming course season celebrating our 35th anniversary, the Woodlore field team assembled to share tales of adventures over the winter and maintain skills and knowledge in preparation for a very exciting year, with Ray leading a selection of time-honoured courses.
The weekend started with a welcome brief, meal and a sharing of experiences from Ray and I regarding the Tracking in Namibia Expedition, Steven Corbyn about team dynamics on the recent trip to Finland for the Winter Bushcraft in the Northern Forest with Ray Mears and Tom’s experience of the Heroes of Telemark Expedition. We then returned to camp to settle and rest for the full day to come.
Saturday was initially classroom-based with discussions on how we continue to provide high-quality instruction to our students, course management and continued development of the outdoor team. After lunch, the team returned to base camp for some practical work. We use pressure lanterns and stoves in our base camp set-ups, this allows us to teach past dark and cook expediently on the busy courses where we won’t have long to grab a brew between lectures and preparation of activities. Use, maintenance and fault finding on this equipment is an important skill that the whole team requires so they took advantage of the need to strip, clean and re-build the lanterns prior to the season start gaining valuable confidence and understanding in working with petroleum under pressure.
The second half of the afternoon was used to survey the very diverse environments found within the boundaries of one of the largest sites we use to run our courses. This was with a view to locating areas of interest and potential for wildlife watching, material gathering and nights out under the stars. This successfully achieved, we had a sumptuous dinner of chilli cooked in the Dutch oven with fresh bread and some of Nick’s wife’s famed fruit cake followed by Wayne’s beautifully made meringue and berry coulis for dessert.
Sunday began with a brew under the parachute around the fire, all fresh-faced and bright. Ray led the morning, teaching new sharpening and fire lighting techniques also demonstrating his routines and equipment used on multi-day journeys. Evolution and innovation at every level is something very important in this subject, we all strive to grow as instructors, always open to learning and applying new knowledge to see if it is practical in the real world as the skills we teach are often taken by ourselves and our students on arduous journeys into the wilderness.
The teaching complete we broke camp, the guys leaving, some to start long journeys home, we are very proud of our team and what they achieve, it is a testament to their drive and dedication that they give their time freely to be ready for the coming season.
With just a few of us left, we sat down to a sausage soup cooked by Ray and a lovely chocolate cake steam baked over the fire by Ruth. With the sun setting we left, refreshed and ready for the year to come.
– David Southey, Quartermaster and Aspirant Instructor
Ah, yes – cleaning the stove and lantern. I have done mine in the last few days. Removal of material fouling the generator tubes makes all the difference for fine control. Unfortunately our early camp starter turned into a long storm damage clearing session this year – still enjoyed the evenings and star-studded skies though!