Last weekend saw the Woodlore outdoor team gather together for their annual staff training. This year, the team took an in-depth view of some of the essential professional skills required to run successful courses safely in any environment. We were joined by Jamie Cooke, a world leader in resuscitation practice and Specialist Instructor on our First Aid courses, who gave the team their regular top-up of knowledge and training. Ray led the team in looking at the complications and hazards of leading overseas expeditions and how we can use our experiences to improve and inform our teaching on Woodlore’s exceptional range of UK training courses.
Between times, the team had the opportunity to come together and enjoy the warmth of the Woodlore camp fire, sharing food and stories of what has happened since the last season together. On the final day, Ray once again led the team and demonstrated a rich diversity of skills which will be embedded into our courses over the coming year. Woodlore is constantly moving forward in terms of equipment, knowledge and technique so these times spent together in the woods are essential. It means that our clients in the coming year will have a learning experience that is current, relevant and absolutely second to none.
Our UK course dates for 2017 are now available to book on the website. In addition to our usual selection of courses based in East Sussex and Scotland we have an exciting new Cooking course added to the calendar for this year. We have also extended the reach of the Fundamental Bushcraft course to Gloucestershire with the Fundamental Severnside course. Book soon to avoid disappointment.
It was a pleasure to hear from one of our regular clients about his experience of the Carving Master Class with Ray Mears. Charles made contact with us after attending his course and gave us this lovely feedback:
Wood carving – an activity that is practical, calming, skilful and quite often entertaining all at the same time.
I recently had the privilege of spending a day improving my carving ability whilst on the Carving Master Class with Ray Mears, a course bought for me (as I expect many people’s courses are) by my wife.
A stroll down into the woods with a course assistant brought us to a clearing with Ray already hard at work splitting a large sweet chestnut log into foot and a half long planks. Logs for seats, the trusty old camp kettle suspended over a open fire and a beautiful sunny day – what could be better!
Since Woodlore’s inception many decades ago, our aim has always been to offer the most prestigious level of training in bushcraft and wilderness survival skills. As such, we pride ourselves on our dedicated team of instructors, whose passion for the subject shines through in their teaching.
And so it is with great pleasure that we introduce a new series of blog posts today focusing on individual members of our team. If you’ve been thinking about booking a course with Woodlore, here is your chance to get to know the instructors who may be guiding you this year.
The following post was written by Woodlore’s Head of Operations, Dan Hume, with regard to this year’s annual staff training in East Sussex:
This week saw another successful passing of the annual field staff training at Woodlore, and our dedicated team of instructors are now poised and ready for the exciting course season ahead which begins with the first British courses early next month.
As our clients will attest, many of the bush skills Woodlore teaches are perishable and so even the fundamentals of bushcraft must be practiced regularly to avoid deterioration. Every year the team gets together to both catch up with each other after the winter and to maintain, refresh and extend their knowledge of a selection of crucial skills. And this year was no different.
This time we concentrated on a small but important selection of subjects; cordage making was the first, being much more of a challenge outside of the summer months due to the availability of suitable materials. Nevertheless, we went out into the forest to collect natural fibres before turning them into beautiful and functional cord.
We then looked at several trapping techniques gathered from around the world, from Africa to Scandinavia and of course here in Britain too. Travelling in the wilderness is made far safer if knowledge of how to feed a party is possessed by those involved. It is similar to first aid knowledge; you hope you never have to use it but it is there if you need to rely on it. It also breeds confidence as you relax in the knowledge that you can look after yourself and those accompanying you in a crisis.
Earlier this week we invited you to send us your questions for an interview with one of Woodlore’s Fundamental Instructors, Keith Whitehead, about our courses. Many of you kindly took the time to submit your excellent questions, and yesterday Keith sat down to answer them:
Question: After just completing the last course of the season I finally understand what you and the other instructors have been saying when quizzed about the Journeyman. “The more you put in, the more you get out.” I put a lot into the course, physically and mentally, but I got a lot more out of the Journeyman, including good friends and an unforgettable but tough and rewarding experience. Dan, Keith and Rob, thanks for all your help, encouragement, support and sense of humour.My question to you, Keith – After the Journeyman and the obvious positive experience and impact it had on you, what course/adventure/challenge did you undertake next and why?I’m really interested to know how the Journeyman experience contributed to what you did next, plus I’m looking for something else to do after next year and you haven’t steered me wrong yet. 😜 – Chris G (WINNER OF KEITH’S FAVOURITE QUESTION)
Answer: Hi Chris, I’m glad that you enjoyed the Journeyman; you and your team did very well! Just like you, the course set me thinking very deeply about my approach to the outdoors and about what I would like to do next. I think that it is the subtle differences that really show through: you have a better idea of priority, you realize the importance of looking out for others and taking in the slack when you need to and you have a much better understanding of how to prepare for future trips.As far as what I decided to do next, I made the decision to make teaching and working in the outdoors a full time occupation. This in turn led me on to learning more advanced skills in the Arctic and here in the UK. I think the key is to use the skills that you have learned to pursue what you are passionate about. Once you have identified what that is, you can move forward better prepared and continue the learning. That’s something that never stops!
“Scotland is the perfect location in which to host the final courses of Woodlore’s 2015 UK course season. The stunning woodland of Perthshire has a very different feel to our usual forest home in the Weald, and certainly puts an edge on the courses that we run there. There is a sense of urgency as the red squirrels scamper about, making ready for the winter, and the fallow begin to rut, occasionally bellowing their presence through the mists that hang low in the trees.
There is urgency too in the students who build their homes and begin to gather the essentials that will sustain them through the coming week on our Journeyman course. All those who attended our Fundamental Lochside and Journeyman courses this year had a taste of this beautiful place, and some even enjoyed an unseasonal spell of very warm weather! Well done to all, but especially to those who attended the Journeyman course – it is an achievement to be proud of.”
– Keith Whitehead
Keith Whitehead, one of our Fundamental Instructors, has very kindly offered to participate in an interview this week, in between his busy quartermaster duties, preparing for our winter expedition in Canada, and taking some time off for a well-earned rest. So, if you have any questions you would like to put to Keith for a short interview about the Woodlore course season, or anything else relating to our courses, please post it in the comments section at the bottom of this article. Alternatively, you can post your questions on facebook or twitter using the hashtag #AskWoodlore.
The interview will take place on Thursday 29th October, so please get your questions to us by Wednesday 28th October at 5pm and a selection of them will be answered by Keith. We look forward to hearing from you.
The person who asks the best question, as chosen by Keith, will receive a £20 Woodlore voucher.