Do you dream of being able to survive in the bush? Wilderness survival courses are becoming more popular, but many of these militarised courses treat the bush as the enemy.
WAE contributor Yasmin Maher was recently invited by Nature Philosophy to participate in their course. Here’s what she experienced…
Humans are all descended from a long line of people who once knew how to survive and thrive on the land. For some, the memory is closer to the surface, for others, it’s hidden under a few centuries of ‘civilised living’.
In the last few hundred years, Western culture and society has firmly cemented in place the shackles of domesticity. Some people are so cut off from nature, they don’t know where their food comes from or how it grows (e.g. Pineapples do not grow on trees. Pineapples are the fruiting bodies of the flower spike of a tropical Bromeliad). The rise in the number of people exploring the outdoors is an attempt to rebel against our domestic chains and regain a sense of harmony. But, like a dog on its retractable leash, we can only go so far. We are still bound by our need for gear, our ‘backpack full of provisions, a sort of lifeline back to society’.
As more people are heeding the call to reconnect with the outdoors, there has been a rise in the number of people offering courses in ‘wilderness survival’. A vast majority of these offer military style training that focuses on what to do should you become lost or separated from your gear. The focus is on how to get through your experience to be rescued. Nature becomes an opponent, an unfriendly entity to be manipulated and survived.
Learning hardcore skills is fine but it’s one dimensional at best and lacks the holistic teachings that many of us don’t realise we need. It’s a westernised form of survival.
“Survival (should be) more than just an insurance policy. With the practice of survival one begins to relax into the earth, to learn its rhythms, to blend in balance and harmony with all things.” Tom Brown Jnr
For those of us seeking a new way of experiencing the outdoors, a survival course might just be the thing we need. Try to find a course that will offer more than just the hard skills; wilderness survival is a way of thinking and living, not just a set of physical tasks and processes for emergency situations.
When you are taught to observe and be aware of your surroundings, you begin to see the landscape in a different way. You begin to realise the complexity and diversity of different plant and animal communities, to become aware of the different seasons and flora and fauna life cycles. You begin to get a sense of what to use, how to use it and when to use it. A good survival course will teach you skills to survive, a proper program will give you knowledge to thrive.
My week spent with the crew at Nature Philosophy changed the way I think in a fundamental way. The more I learnt, the more I realised I was like Jake in Avatar, ‘like a baby, making noise, don’t know what to do.’ My experiences humbled me, taught me to slow down, to listen and observe.
Like the tiny glowing coal we sweated into crackling flames using nothing but a hand drill, the number of people learning wilderness survival skills is on the rise. We don’t want to be a babe in the woods any longer.
Kate Rydge and Sam Robertson of Nature Philosophy offer holistic programs in a gorgeous setting. Their courses attract incredible people from all over Australia who have a passion for being outside in the wild, learning to live from the land.
To perfect a skill takes time, practice and commitment and Kate and Sam are both masters of their craft. They were taught by the legendary Tom Brown Jr, American author and famed tracker and they spend considerable time in the bush honing and maintaining their skills. They live what they teach. This is what makes Nature Philosophy unique as Kate and Sam have expert knowledge honed locally in Australia and have an extensive understanding of our flora and fauna, a must for real survival situations.
Their courses offer the full gamut of ‘primitive’ skills. ( I use that word loosely as it implies ease and simplicity. These skills are complex and physically demanding) from shelter construction and water purification to camouflage, tracking and fire making. Their programs offer something for everyone. From weaving to wilderness survival, nature connection and family camps to men’s and women’s experiences, you will find a program to rewild your inner self.
For those of you interested in becoming more self-sufficient, independent and confident in the bush, a chat to Sam and Kate about their upcoming courses might just be the best thing you do all year.
“Nature Philosophy offers personal transformation and earth connection through sharing primitive survival skills, sacred ceremony and wild sourced wisdom.
Time and time again we see our tribe deeply embrace the natural world and experience bodily awakenings and deep soul level transformations.” – Nature Philosophy
For more info, visit their website at www.naturephilosophy.com