Naked & Afraid, Or Clothed & Comfortable?
The popularity of survival themed television programs often sparks heated debates within the primitive skills community. I have also had these shows come up in dinner conversations with the usual, "Why do this?"
That question was being asked long before the rise of survival television shows. This quote by early survival author Richard Graves gives us a great answer:
"The practice of Bushcraft shows many unexpected results. The five senses are sharpened, and consequently the joy of being alive is greater. The ability to adapt and improvise is developed to a remarkable degree, leading to increased self confidence. The ability to adapt to a changing environment and overcome difficulties, is followed by rapid improvement in the individual's daily work. This leads to advancement and promotion. Bushcraft, by developing adaptability, provides a broadening influence, a necessary counter to offset the narrowing influence of modern specialization."
Today, when most children are consumed with various media, the study of primitive skills is even more necessary. This is why at Occpaleo we rarely criticize these shows. Even the slightest interest in survival issues reminds us who, and what we are. I can't think of a more important topic to contemplate, from any angle! We figure that whether a person wants to try full survival training, or simply wants to try to make a shelter and come back in the house, valuable skills and connections are made and learned.
Recently, we were able to share how to build a shelter with a new generation, bringing pre-history to life. Materials found in a backyard woods created this snug, sturdy hut that could keep a person warm and alive. The principle is simple: first, construct a framework of sticks custom to your own height and size.
Then insulate it with smaller sticks, leaves and debris. The layers of "dead air space"act like a down blanket, keeping your warm body heat in, and the cold out.
These shelters are remarkable in their ability to withstand wind, rain and snow. Another lesson can be learned in the monitoring and fortifying of the shelter to maintain its integrity.
The result of this fun exercise was that three kids got outside on a nice day, and increased that feeling of confidence in nature. Even if they never find themselves in survival situations, they will more greatly appreciate the nights they are in warm houses, and remember what to do if they are not.