Renegade members, quite literally, go wild.
Our Bushcraft Officer Becci Coombes organises wonderful bushcraft and foraging expeditions along the Arun.
Becci, who came to Bushcraft via experimental archaeology and after creating a survival course for women backpackers, has an absolute fascination in understanding the everyday life of our ancient ancestors.
She is passionate about the importance of getting children away from their screens and out into the wild around them. “There is nothing more joyous than sitting round a campfire at night and I want the children, especially now when they have been shut in for so long, to experience the delight of discovery in nature,” she said.
“There is so much information that we have lost over the generations I want them to go on a walk and be able to identify some of the things they walk past every day but never take the time to actually look at, and understand their history and their uses.”
On the recent expedition, the children played Plant or Poison and learnt to identify things coming into season such as blackberries, hazelnuts, water mint, wild plums and the edible bits of the Hawthorn. They also discovered the poisonous secret of the Cuckoopint (also called lords-and-ladies) berries and the medicinal history of the meadowsweet, so named not because it is grown in meadows but because it was used to flavour mead. This wild flower is used as an antiseptic and, when crushed, smells like Savlon.
The children also picked bulrushes, which are used for making cordage and so they had a go at making their own bulrush bracelets, and played Bushcraft Bingo. They had 20 things to find because they could shout…and the only thing they didn’t find was an ordinary duck!
“While we were sitting round the campfire, I got the children to think about how much we had discovered on our two hour walk, with six of us in total, and how much food that would have given us if we were the hunter-gatherers of ancient times. We would have starved! Instead of just opening a full fridge door to get something if they were hungry, I wanted them to appreciate just how much work went into simply surviving,” says Becci.
“I also challenged them to imagine that we were surrounded by a pack of wolves and snowed in at -4 degrees – what would they need to eat to survive and where would they get it. It opened their eyes.”
Other expeditions included the kids learning campfire cookery…from damper bread to chocolate cake baked in oranges and all cooked on the open coals…what’s not to love?!
Boredom is just not an option.