Why Bushcraft must become the new national sport
Bushcrafting changes your perspective, creates appreciation and respect, which ultimately transforms into a very unique form of fulfillment.
From Martin Gebhardt. Check out his “About me” page.
👉 The key facts from this guide
- Bushcraft is the good life in nature: You learn to be crafty - in and with nature. You make tools, build a camp, cook outdoors, and start fires.
- Sustainability is a central aspect: You learn to handle natural resources sustainably. You only take as much as nature can recover from without losses.
- Connection to nature: As a Bushcrafter, you live in harmony with nature. You understand that you belong to nature and not the other way around.
- Knowledge and skills: You learn the skills and techniques needed to live well in nature and meet your needs.
- Responsibility: You develop a strong sense of responsibility towards other people, animals, and plants.
- Change of perspective: Bushcraft can change your perspective and bring you appreciation, which ultimately transforms into a very unique form of fulfillment.
With the term Bushcraft, I didn't know what to do with it before.
Until I delved into it and realized:
Hey, you did this as a little kid when you were playing with fire in your grandma and grandpa's garden. Or as a teenager when you built the treehouse over the street with your buddies.
Now I've associated Bushcraft with my way of thinking.
Maybe you feel it too, but couldn't put it into words so far.
Then read my text now, it might help you and you might recognize yourself.
Bushcraft is the good life in nature
Bushcraft means being crafty - in and with nature.
Making tools, building a camp, cooking outdoors, carving furniture, sewing leather bags, starting fires. Just primitive things that any child can grasp immediately.
What our ancestors did hundreds of years ago is now called Bushcraft and is becoming more and more of a hobby. Funny, huh?
Simply put: In the past, everyone was a Bushcrafter.
Even the English, Germans, or French. The Native Americans as well as indigenous peoples around the world.
Whether they were sedentary or hunters and gatherers.
Now, woodland craftsmanship encompasses the complete knowledge of our ancestors and indigenous peoples.
How do I light a fire without a lighter? How do I navigate with only the sun? How do I build shelter in the middle of the wilderness? Where do I find clean water, and how do I prepare it? Which fruits, plants, and roots can I eat (read more here)?
The list goes on and on, as it contains all the skills and techniques for how to live well and fulfill our needs as human beings.
Bushcraft also means that I use natural resources sustainably.
The principle is more than logical: on a limited earth, my resources are limited. I am only allowed to take as much as the balance can recover from without loss.
If I achieve this, I can theoretically benefit from it forever (provided there are no major changes on earth).
As a Bushcrafter, I am a forest ranger who knows how to live well with nature. He lives in harmony with nature. He knows that nature does not belong to him, but he belongs to nature.
For me, a Bushcrafter is also a native who roams the land as a hunter-gatherer in life. But also, one who lives like the last indigenous and bush people, living in a village and must know how to survive together and meet their basic needs.
People who live so closely in harmony with nature know the sense of responsibility they have towards other people, animals, and plants. Otherwise, they would never survive.
A Bushcrafter knows the wilderness, he is an expert in survival. He is also a scout who knows how to navigate in the wilderness. He pays attention to his surroundings and his perception is sharpened.
In nature, the Bushcrafter is at home. Here, he feels safe.
He loves nature, but does not romanticize it. He knows its dangers and encounters them with respect, but not with fear.
A Bushcrafter is not a loner. He values community and sees the tasks that need to be done. He likes to pass on knowledge by being a role model. Learning for him means learning through experience and practice - not through preaching from a pulpit from above.
Living Bushcraft also means accepting the limits of nature.
A Bushcrafter never puts himself above nature and thinks he is better. He knows that he is a part of nature and not an all-knowing creation of a god.
Unlike a survivalist, the Bushcrafter wants to live close to nature. The survivalist is in an emergency and wants to get back to civilization as quickly as possible.
Classical survival skills are not enough for a Bushcrafter. They are only the beginning of perfection and ultimate connection with nature.
You only protect what you know, understand and love
Most people today are just tourists in nature.
They go hiking a few times. They lie by the lake. Furthermore, they climb mountain tops to demonstrate their superiority, or they throw themselves off a bridge with a rope just to feel alive again.
A tourist may leave his usual place of residence, but quickly returns to everyday life. As a tourist, you don't know the real life of a native - even if you accompany him for two weeks or visit him every month.
To really connect with something or someone, you have to get to know them.
Only when you get to know things will you understand their connections.
What you know, you will learn to appreciate. And maybe even love.
What you don't know, you will never be able to love. And what you don't love and appreciate, you will never protect.
A Bushcrafter knows nature, animals and plants.
How things work in the forest is not foreign to him. On the contrary: it is only through his skills and knowledge that he feels truly comfortable.
He lives originally and simply, and therefore happy and content. He carefully chooses his decisions so that they are always in harmony with nature.
Back to the origin
I could breathe a sigh of relief if only a few people lived by these lines.
Thoughts shoot through my head:
What will it be like in 20 years when my children are adults? What earth will they find?
My chest tightens, my stomach cramps when I think more about how most people treat their livelihoods irresponsibly.
Because we are at a turning point in mass extinction.
There is a climate emergency.
This is attributed to human activity. So, if there was ever a time to rethink, it's now.
Fortunately, many people have already understood this, and we are not alone. Many people are no longer just tourists in the forest. They want to restore their forgotten and lost connection to nature.
Sure, Bushcraft and survival are fun, bring adventure and thrills. But that's just the beginning and superficial. It would be great if you take the next step.
If you allow it, Bushcraft will change your perspectives and bring you appreciation, which ultimately transforms into a very unique form of fulfillment.
Your perspective towards nature will change.
When you work with it, your perspective will change, and you will also learn to appreciate the things from nature that you get to know.
When people read my books and articles or watch my videos, I want to convey skills and knowledge.
However, there is another important point.
In truth, I am working on myself.
What is the current state?
Your water comes from a bottle. You turn up your heating. You get your food from the supermarket. You navigate the world with GPS. You can order everything else today.
(The time we save as humans through these "comforts," we used to work for strangers.)
You basically don't need to leave your apartment anymore.
Sound good? No, not at all. You are disempowered.
I cannot imagine a more boring life.
A self-chosen prison.
It's like this: Someone else provides all of this for you.
That sounds good at first, right? But there is nothing fulfilling about it.
It is fantastic to sleep in a shelter that you built next to your fire, where you cook your food that you hunted or gathered and prepared yourself.
This fulfillment can be found again through Bushcraft and survival.
The skills of Bushcrafting connect us in a very close way to our earth. This is something that we really need to learn and pass on. To our children and youth, who we need to convince to rethink humanity.
As the youth grow up, they will occupy important positions and exercise more care for the earth.
It is obvious: Although we only live briefly compared to a mountain, a river, or a tree, we have a massive impact on nature.
And we have the choice to live in beauty or not.
We have the choice to decide HOW we want to live.
There is only one simple question: Do we want to live in harmony with nature and therefore in harmony with ourselves - or do we decide against our livelihood?
And yes, you as a Bushcrafter are called upon to participate.
Teach your knowledge patiently to your children, to adolescents or adults. Cultivate people's interest in nature.
Stand by your love of nature and live with clarity about what you want to communicate with your knowledge.
Be a role model in your actions, and others will follow suit. If necessary, defend your attitude.
If you would like to be an intelligent person, act responsibly towards all beings and yourself.
"We must remember that nature does not belong to us in the end, we belong to it." - Grey Owl
If you are now interested in Bushcrafting, refer to my beginner's article: Bushcraft: How to Start? (The Ultimate Beginner's Guide) or get one of my books right away.
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