Bushcraft Goals and Development

Bushcraft Goals

Bushcraft Goals and Development.

It is good to stop and reflect on what we are doing and have done. It is Essential to set new bushcraft goals, both as individuals and as a family in relation to Bushcraft. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

  • What have I/we done in the last year?
  • Did we achieve as much as We wanted?
  • Did I/we achieve our  bushcraft goals?
  • What goals are we going to set for the upcoming year?

Setting The right Bushcraft Goals Is Empowering

When we look at what we want to achieve with regards to bushcraft it is easy to set huge goals. This is okay as long-term goals, but you need achievable short-term goals. At some time we have all set ourselves goals that are not achievable, and we have failed. The results can leave us dis-empowered. We give up feeling we are not up to the task and are a failure. I know I have done this in the past. The important thing to do is say that was then I am here now, and I will get it right this time, moving on from here.

I have had to set and achieve goals in.

  • The police as an undercover police officer and other covert policing methods.
  • Practicing and teaching bushcraft skill
  • in many other areas of my life.

In addition to the practical experience, I have had the opportunity to study various areas of psychology to post graduate levels. Combining this has led me to look at how you can achieve your goals in bushcraft.

Basic Principle of Bushcraft Goal Setting

Bite sized Chunks.

One of my mentors in the police was known as the cliché king, he would use cliché after cliché. It would drive some people mad, but I still remember many of the lessons he taught me and use them today. I can hear him saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” or “Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey” On most  occasions he was right. Stopping and taking a step back will help you learn and/or achieve more in the long run. It is true when you look to plan what you want to learn and how quickly you will do it. Secondly, you don’t need to learn everything now, this very minute. Take your time and learn a little and often will mean you will master the finer points of what you want to learn. This is very true when you look to set your bushcraft goals regarding developing bushcraft skills.

When you choose a new bushcraft skill to learn or master an existing bushcraft skill you need to acknowledge that they are big tasks and you will not learn the best technique or learn to the highest standards if you try and do it all in one go. In fact there is a big chance you fail or become disillusioned with the subject you are looking at.

Child or Adult, we all need our Bushcraft Goals.

The same goes when you are looking at planning what Bushcraft skills you will teach children. Overload their brains and you will put them off learning, not just what at that moment but in other learning environments.

Bushcraft Goals

Bushcraft Goals

If you set large bushcraft goals with short time frames it can appear a daunting, impossible task and even the thought of trying can be off putting. So break it down into small steps. Every small step you make is a goal achieve and will give you a boost and be motivating. In no time at all you will have achieved a larger goal, to a higher standard. This is important when we work with children and young people. It teaches them how to succeed and how to motivate themselves whilst they are learning other skills.

Step By Step, Mouthful by Mouthfull

During the training to become an undercover officer we were told we had to achieve some tough goals and we were put under pressure. We were told at the beginning what the main goals were and if we fail, we were history and would never be allowed to apply again. This was done to mess with our heads, they didn’t want quitters they wanted to know when it got tough you wouldn’t give up or break down. The answer to how you achieved success was to keep going one small step at a time and you will be successful. I thought about quitting, but it wasn’t an option. I wanted to be part of the special ops department. Each little goal I passed each step I took, was one more step towards my goal. On day one it seemed a million miles away and unachievable. Many fail the course but when you speak to those that pass they are all very different people, but they will tell you they just kept on taking small steps, bite size chunks.

How do you eat a mountain? The answer One mouthful at a time.

Keep Bushcraft Goals achievable, not too high.

Although you need to set bushcraft goals that can be achieved, it is important that you challenge yourself, or any children you may work with. Challenge is what gives us the satisfaction and motivation to be successful and to continue on our journey. Being out of our comfort zone helps to keep us stimulated and alert. With young people this is just as important. There is nothing worse that having young people lose interest and have to get them, interested and motivated again.

Keep Balanced

It is all about balance. Not to high, but not too low. Starting with some simple tasks that are very easy to achieve will help give confidence and help grab attention and interest in a subject. But then start adding more challenging tasks. Challenging your self and/or others also helps in another area of bushcraft/survival skills. Dealing with stress can be a challenge for many people. By increasing the challenges, you give yourself or others will mean you are under stress which increases as the goals become more challenging. This is great, because if you need to use any of the skills in an emergency or survival situation you have learned to deal with stress in bite sized chunks. (I wonder if I am getting hungry as I type, I keep talking about bite sized chunks.)

Look at your bushcraft goals and the time scale you are setting yourself and break it down. For example, knot are something people love or hate. So setting six month to learn 26 knots may seem a lot but, re-frame that to be one knot a week, you will have focused on it one knot at a time and learned 26 knots to a good standard in six months.

Start with your weaknesses

Everyone enjoys doing things they are good at and that they enjoy. If we do not plan our bushcraft goals well we will end up doing things that are hard and we wont enjoy them. We can then end up in a position where we only concentrate on things we enjoy and are good at. There is not challenge and progress is limited.

Rather than start on a new subject list what are your weaknesses. From there you can look at how you can develop them. Doing small chunks of working on your weaknesses, whilst working on maintaining good standards of skills you already have. This gives you a mixture of easy enjoyable, maintaining skill level and Hard, learning new skills. This creates a balance that will maintain interest, enjoyment and motivation, whilst learning new skills.

Learn About The Journey, Not Just The Destination.

That may sound like a phrase from a Chinese fortune cookie. So lets look a little closely at what this means. One skill

Study the Journey not just the destination

Study the Journey not just the destination

that most frequently people want to learn is fire by friction. So they get a bow drill set and attempt to create an ember. That isn’t mastering a skill it is going through the motions of getting an ember. To be a master of fire by friction using a bow drill you need to break the process down into smaller parts,

  • Selecting materials,
  • making the bow drill kit,
  • being able to make an ember,
  • a tinder bundle turn the ember into a flame.

It could be argued that this could be taken further and to master this you also need to know how to build a fire that fits your purpose and maintain it.

So the destination is lighting a fire by friction using a bow drill. The journey to get you there is more complex and needs to be mastered fully to be able to have mastered friction fire using a bow drill.

Keep It Simple

This process needs to be identified in any area you decide to master any area of bushcraft. Breaking these areas down is helpful when you are planning your goals.

I would recommend that you do a plan for how you want to develop your skills and knowledge in specific areas of bushcraft.

  1. Decide what time you can allocate to learning, practicing and developing new and existing skills.
  2. List Skill you want to learn and develop
  3. Make two lists in order of priority. One new skill to learn, a second of skills to develop.
  4. Start at the top of each list. Write out the process you need to learn and become proficient at.
  5. When you have half a dozen on each list with a process highlighted put then into a plan of how you will work through these task.

Think S.M.A.R.T. When setting Bushcraft Goals.

When you are planning how you will plan your time to achieve these goals bear this SMART system.

Specific – Bite sized chunks to create the process needed to master specific skills

Measurable – Document what you want to do so you know if you are on course to achieve your goal

Achievable – Make sure you can achieve what you are planning in the time you can spare

Realistic – When you are planning make sure what you are planning is realistic. Can you really achieve that goal. Do you have access to tools, location, finances etc

Timescale – Set a timescale that you will be accountable to.

If you look at how you will set your goals for you or children in this way bearing in mind what we have said about bushcraft Goals, motivation, enjoyments etc. You will not only learn new skills and maintain skills you already have you will learn more, do it quicker and enjoy it.

All I would say is be the best you can be and have fun. Here is a final Cliché. If something is worth doing it is worth doing well.

What Areas Can I work on?

This is a question I am asked a lot especially relating to children. Here is an example of where I start when working with children. It could be a starting point for some adults. It is a matter of assessing the people you are working with or yourself

In relation to children I would suggest that a good starting point is Tools and how to use them.

Tools and How To use Them.

With many skills children want to learn relating to bushcraft there is a need to use tools. These can range from knives to a compass. It is important to start with basic safety and how to look after and maintain tools. This needs to be done in an age appropriate manner. As well as using tools safely it is important that children know how to look after the tools so that they don’t get damaged. This can be as simple as how to look after a compass. Do not drop it or bang it and do not put it near powerful magnets. Giving children a good grounding in tools they may see or use and how to handle them gives them a good knowledge for when they start to learn task specific skills. Plus, it teaches them respect for tools and how to deal with them if they come across them on the streets

I recently took a group of seven years olds and was teaching about knives. Showing them various knifes, I showed them how to safely pick a knife up and pass it to each other. One boy started to get quite upset, saying he wouldn’t touch the knives because they were too dangerous. After explaining knives aren’t dangerous it is bad handling that causes injury, he took a knife and passes the knife to another child. Weeks later he attended a bushcraft course and helped make some fire sticks, using a knife, under supervision.

Record your goals, share what you plan to do.

Structure = Speed and Fun

No matter how old you are, or whether you are looking at your development, or that of another person, taking a structured approach is a great idea. By taking a structured approach to reviewing and planning your development of your bushcraft skills, will do several things.

  1. Speed up learning
  2. Improve quality the skills you learn
  3. Help maintain current skills to a high standard
  4. Be much more enjoyable and you all will have more fun.

In the next article I will look at some areas to look at in the coming year. This will help you maintain your current skill level, learn more new skills and as I said, have more fun.

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Benefits of Bushcraft

Bushcraft words and images

Some Of The Benefits Of Bushcraft

The benefits of bushcraft are many. They impact on most areas of an individuals life and on that of groups.

Bushcraft words and images

Bushcraft words and images

Improve Situational Awareness How To Improve It

Situational Awareness

Improve Situational Awareness How To Improve It.

It doesn’t need to be difficult to improve situational Awareness.

To improve situational awareness it doesn’t need to be difficult, that doesn’t mean there will be no hard work. Initially there are some simple rules you can set yourself. Such as

  • Don’t walk around looking at your feet, learn to keep your head up observing the area around you. Look Alert.
  • Don’t Use your mobile phone or have headphones on when out in busy areas/in public. Using them is an advert you have something useful to others and that you aren’t aware of what is going on around you.
  • Dress to your surroundings. We all like to look nice and wear nice clothes, but do you need to wear all your gold jewellery or expensive watch whilst shopping in the town center.
  • Plan what you are going to do when you are out. Know where you are going and what you will be doing. This seems obvious, but, when you are out look around and you will see people stopping and starting, walking backwards and forwards not really knowing what to do next.
Improve Situational Awareness

Improve Situational Awareness

These are four simple suggestions as you improve situational awareness you will create your own way of doing things that works and it becomes a natural way of doing thing. In the military and some police or emergency departments they are called Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P’s) To everyday people it is your way of doing things that you use every time.

Skills Needed To Improve Situational Awareness.

There are lots of ideas out there that are supposed to help improve situational awareness. The bottom line is it can just start to get over complicated. If you want to develop situational awareness for specialist purposes there are ways to do that. To keep you are your family safe, there are three areas to concentrate on.

  1. Observation.
  2. Memory
  3. Practice

In the rest of this article I will talk you through some simple exercises that you and your family can practice together. It is fun and can help you do more than improve situational awareness. They can help adults at work, and learning new skills and children will benefit in all areas of their education. so here goes.


Observation is being aware of your surroundings. We are all doing it to some extent all the time. whether we are driving or walking. It keeps us safe. We have learned over time to let our brains filter out what we need to know. If we picked up every little sound or movement that went on around us we probably couldn’t cope with the sensory input, it would be sensory overload. So our brains have adapted and filter out what it thinks we need to know and we let it do this most of the time. Over time we have adapted to what could be called a safer world, we aren’t walking around wondering if a predator is hiding near by and will want to eat us for lunch. The bottom line is we have let our guard down. In reality there may not be predators out there that are going to have you or your family for lunch, but there are predators out there that will steal you wallet, cash, mobile phone, tablet etc, physically attack you, rape people or even terrorists who would like to see people dead. I don’t say that to scare people and hopefully most people will go through life without experiencing any of these things, some are also rarer than others.

One game that I have used and played with my daughter is a basic observation game. It can be especially good in the car. After I have seen something as we drove along I will then ask questions. e.g. what colour coat was the person walking to the bus stop wearing? What colour car did we just pass? what shop did we just pass? What was the registration number of the car we were just following? I am sure you get the idea and can think up many questions. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the car, sat in a Costa having coffee or walking through town. Doing this means you have to be observant to be able to ask the questions and the children have to be alert to answer. As I said I play this with my daughter, it wasn’t long before she caught on and decided to ask me questions as well. Be Prepared. Take a look at Our article on tracking and observational skills


Memory is a great skill to develop because it helps you remember more things, but you also have to be aware of

psychology of a survivor

What Goes on in the mind of a survivor. The psychology of a survivor

something to remember it. As an excercise to prove that people are not aware of there surroundings we had a random incident set up to happen in front of some new recruits during their first weeks of training. Our job was to go and try and get as much detail as possible from those witnesses. The differences in those statement were amazing. Some saw 2 people others 3 or even 4. Different coloured cars, hair colour even the time of day. These statements were only taken one hour after the event. There are two ways to start improving memory. The first of these is kims game You can find out more here along with a video.

The next method also helps playing Kims Game, word association. Learn to memerise lists of words by linking one object to the next. For example.

Monkey, Bubbles, knife, cow.

Imagine a monkey blowing big multi coloured bubbles out of its ears. As they floated away they burst and thousands of knifes fly out in all directions. They fly down hitting a herd of cows in the bottom, causing them to jump up mooing loudly.  The vivid and ludicrous story continues through the list. After playing kims game recently with a group of children, a child said they could only say one item. I went through the list like this and then he recalled all the items. The following week I surprised him by asking him to do this again. He repeated the list forwards and another child backwards without any practice or revision. Here are a couple of books I have used to help me remember various things.



There is only one way that you will improve these skills. That is by practice, practice and more practice. The important thing to remember is to make it fun. Playing games whilst walking through town or in the car are fun and you will see just how much you miss out on when walking around. There are some serious, and some funny things that go on around us everyday. Just don’t get your smartphone out and start videoing everything. If you aren’t in the mood to play a game and you have two children set them tasks who is first to spot so many cars of a certain colour. Use you imagination. Tony Buzan who is the author of these two books I recommend has written a variety of books relating to memory, creativity and thinking. He gives good advice in an easy to read way.

Check out our other articles on Situational Awareness here. Situational Awareness, a priority


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Brereton Bushcraft For Kids Day

bushcraft for kids day jamboree

Bushcraft For Kids Day

bushcraft for kids day jamboree

bushcraft for kids day jamboree

We are pleased to announce that there will be a special Bushcraft for kids day to raise money to send some young people to the World Scouting Jamboree 2019 in USA.

A great Christmas gift for kids. get them outdoors learning new skills whilst building their confidence. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity. Book a place on the bushcraft for kids day, whilst there are still places available.

The day will introduce young people to essential bushcraft, survival skills. These will include water collection and purification, fire starting, shelter, cooking. The day aims to help young people learn new or develop skills they already have and to have fun.

Bushcraft For Kids Day Event Details

The Venue is Brereton Scout Hut, Brereton Park, Brereton Green CW11 1RY

It will run from 09.00hrs to 16.30hrs

Cost is £15

You can download a form here.

If you have any questions please contact me

Email nic @ bushcraft4kids.co.uk (Remove Spaces, it is like that to stop robots spamming me)

Through Bushcraft4 kids Facebook page 

Text or phone. 07979646754



Situational Awareness. A Priority

Situational Awareness. A Priority

During the training all new, police officers undertake you are taught about situational awareness. You are told it is a skill that can save your life and it can. The during my assessment and training to work under cover they teach you to take it to another level. The more you look at situational awareness and practice to make improvements you will learn two things firstly how important it is and that it is necessary to improve it as a skill.

Before we start to look at how you can improve your situational awareness and teach your children we need to understand what it is. Most people would define Situational Awareness as knowing what is going on around you. That is true but to master it you need to understand more about what it is and how it affects us all.

As I said it is more than just “Knowing what is going on around you.” Some would tag on “The ability to scan your environment and sense danger.” This give a little more depth, but it isn’t just about picking up on dangers or hazards. I would use a definition along the lines of….

“Situational Awareness is being alert to your environment and any changes it. Giving you the knowledge to sense any danger, challenges or opportunities, whilst maintaining the ability to conduct normal activities.”

In one sentence it is “Paying attention to your surroundings, whilst appearing not to be paying attention.”

We live in a society where most people don’t appear to give any concern to situational awareness, many aren’t even aware of what is going on next to them. The biggest enemy to situational awareness is the mobile phone, I am not saying they aren’t good or useful, just that they cause a problem. As you walk down the street you see people walking along and in one hand is a mobile phone and they are glued to it, either chatting away, texting or even just playing games. The problem is if you are looking down at a mobile phone you can’t know what is going on in your immediate area never mind the wider environment. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing situational awareness is essential for everyone.

Jeff Coopers Colour Code

To make it easy to understand situational awareness it is best to start with a system called “Jeff Coopers Colour Code” At some point in the 1970s, Jeff Cooper created what is often called the Colour Code. When he originally thought it up, and as he taught it, his purpose was to describe a shooter’s “…capacity…to cross the psychological barrier that inhibits [the] ability to take deadly action,” i.e. his or her mental preparation to press the trigger on a live target. (Jeff Cooper, “Commentaries,” Vol. 12, No. 5.) Nowadays it has been manipulated into a system for situational awareness. Some will argue this is wrong but personally I believe if it helps keep people safe it is a useful tool however it has been developed.

The Four Colours.

Situational Awareness, A Priority

Situational Awareness, A Priority


This is the time our situational awareness is at its lowest. We are generally relaxed and in an environment, we believe to be safe e.g. our home. This is when we have let our guard down completely. If we are in this state, we are at our most vulnerable and if something happens we are not prepared at all.


If you are in condition yellow, you remain in a relaxed state, but you are aware of who and what is around you. You know what is going on in the area around you. Basically, you are paying attention to the sights and sounds that surround you were ever you are, whether you are at home or moving around in society.

Important Note.

This does not mean you are paranoid or have any other irrational fear of persons or places. You have simply shifted your alertness to a level of attention that will prevent you from being totally surprised by the actions of another person or situation.

As you move up these levels of Situational Awareness you are increasing your observation to what it is happening, and any changes there may be around you, whilst collating information such as where the exits are, fire escapes, what people are around you, what you can hear or smell.

In comparison to White where any change in your situation would be a complete surprise yellow means you are more responsive to change and would be able to make decisions and take action which could lead to further changes in the colour level you are in.

This would be the ideal level to be in when going about everyday activities.


To be in Orange you will have noticed something in your environment or a change which has alerted you and you start to focus on it and anything in its immediate vicinity. Initially this may or may not be a hazard or threat to you or anyone with or near you. You are now prepared, just in case something develops or happens, and you need to act. Although you are in orange and you are focused on something specific you must not lose or stop your all round situational awareness. Depending on what you are doing or where you are it is likely that you will fluctuate between yellow and orange many times and you don’t come across any threats or danger. This is a time to be aware and make an extra effort to ensure you maintain situational awareness always.


If you are in Orange and something you are focused on develops and you realise you are going to have to act, whether it is dealing with the developing incident or just getting out of the area, you are in Red. Once you are in Red you are prepared for action, there are no surprises. You hopefully have a plan and because you have situational awareness you have a plan, because you have been gathering information being in Yellow, Orange prior to Red. Once in Red most of the planning is over and you are implementing your plan.

As you can see this isn’t about being paranoid. Situational awareness is about gathering information or intelligence and being prepared in what ever situation you are in. It is a fact that our society has changed, and we can’t walk around looking at our feet or mobile phone all the time. What you miss one second could delay you acting in a situation that could save your life and or your property. Although I would like to say the chances of being involved in a terrorist incident is unlikely, it has been shown recently that if you are going to be it will be when you are in a situation where you wouldn’t have thought it would happen. For example, a pop concert, sightseeing, catching a bus or train or even visiting a busy market.

Also, terrorism isn’t the only things we need to be aware of fire and building evacuations can be an extremely dangerous situation to be in. There is also that state of the art Smart phone that someone is watching you use whilst walking around and would like to relieve you of and have for themselves.


This isn’t about scaring people, it should hopefully make us stop and acknowledge the world we live in and we can feel safe and reassured that we have situational awareness and be prepared for changes in situations. You wont necessarily be the victim of a crime or get hurt when a situation changes for the worse. Situational Awareness is a skill we all need both young, old and older.

The fifth Colour.

I haven’t included this with Coopers Colours because you can and will fluctuate between  each area as your situation changes. The fifth colour is black and is the one area shouldn’t enter and shouldn’t want to, because black is “Panic” “System Overload” The breakdown of you both physically and emotionally. If you enter black it is game over, you are not in control and you do not have the required control to deal with the situation you are in.

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Teaching Foraging For Kids

blackberries-Foraging For Kids

Teach Kids To Forage

Importance Of Teaching Foraging For Kids

Foraging for kids-Parents Bushcraft

Foraging for kids-parents bushcraft

I am often asked about foraging and children. I look back at how I learned about foraging. It was a natural part of growing up, as I walked around the countryside with my parents and some other adults they would point out plants and berries. I would be encouraged to try them, and I learned what I could eat as a snack when I was outdoors. When I was out playing I didn’t want to run home for snacks, so I would find my own. During part of my life I stopped learning, but what I learned quickly returned and some had never left. To this day I still don’t eat much chocolate and prefer nuts and berries.

Nutrition and diet is seen as an important part of all our lives. Foraging is a skill that is important today as it has been in the past. Snacks in a child’s daily routine can play an important role to help manage their hunger and assist in boosting their nutrition. If people time snacks well it can not only help to manage hunger, it can also help provide a much-needed energy boost between meals.

Often, we see adults and children growing bored of the same so called healthy snacks, expensive punnets of fruit, bread sticks. These foods are often processed, flown many miles and sprayed with insecticides. With a little knowledge you can provide healthy snacks that can be found all around us and are seasonally fresh, containing many vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Plus, they are all free.

Building Bushcraft Shelters for kids and everyone

Lessons in build a shelter

Building Bushcraft Shelters From Tarpaulin or Natural Materials

Type of Survival Shelter using a Tarp or Poncho.

If you have read the previous articles about selecting a shelter site and the first lessons of shelter building, you will realise it isn’t just about starting to build bushcraft shelters. Once you have answered the question posed previously you will be ready to start looking at what type of shelter you are going to build and how to build bushcraft shelters.

If you are lucky you will have some resources at hand to create a simple shelter. It is a piece of kit that is versatile and has been used over time for many uses. It is the Tarpaulin “Tarp.” Or as was used and still is by some soldiers the poncho.

The Lean-to Shelter.

The lean-to on one of two simple and effective shelters that can be erected quickly and provide effective shelter from the elements (Sun, wind, rain and or snow) One benefit is that you don’t need any tools and minimal resources.

Lean To Tarp Shelter Building shelters

Lean To Tarp Shelter Building Bushcraft Shelters

The Lean-to is the most basic shelter and all that is needed is a tarpaulin and 2 to 3 meters of some sort of twine/cordage (Paracord is often used for this purpose and is recommended to be carried when outdoors because it is versatile and strong.) Ideally you also need three or four stakes approx. 30cm (one foot) long. These can easily be made by sharpening one end using a knife or large rock. The final element needed is two trees two or three meters apart. You can use poles for this either improvised ones made from fallen branches, walking poles or tent poles.

Prior to starting to construct the center you should have selected a suitable area. With this shelter you should consider the wind direction. You want the back pointing towards the incoming wind. Some people have suggested you can have the wind coming from the side and the side will be blocked off by some other means. What ever you do don’t have the wind blowing directly into the front of the shelter. It will make it un comfortable sleeping in it, cold and wet if it rains. Plus, your shelter might be blown away at any time.

If using a poncho remember to tie off the hood or you might have a leaking shelter.

  1. Cut your Paracord/cordage into two and tie one piece to the corner grommet of the Tarp and the other piece to the other adjacent grommet.
  2. Tie a “Drip stick” approx. 5 to 10 cm from each grommet. These sticks should be approx. 10cm long. The purpose of these is to stop any rain water from running along the paracord/cordage back towards and into the lean-to. This technique can be used along any grommet on the shelter. Tying a drip stick to a short length of cordage can help control the water caught on the tarp flowing back into your shelter.
  3. Tie the cordage at the corners to the trees around waist height. It is good to get into the habit of using quick release knots for this. It makes it easier when breaking camp. Keep the tarp taut between the two trees
  4. Spread the tarp out tight and fasten it down using stakes through the grommets.

Additional tips.

If instead of using trees you use stakes in the ground, you will need to use additional guy ropes to keep these tight.

If you are going to be using the shelter for more than one day you need to put a center support. If this is a poncho you can tie cordage around that and over a branch. This will stop water pooling in the center of the tarp. Some people suggest using large rocks to cause water to pool at the bottom of the tarp and cause it to wear quickly.


Tent Style Shelter.

There are benefits and disadvantages to the tent style shelter. The low profile gives increased shelter and traps the air around you in the small area. The disadvantages are it has less storage space and is restricted when getting in and out.

To build this type of shelter you need a tarp or poncho, two lengths of paracord or suitable cordage each 1.5 to

Tent type Tarp Shelter Building shelters

Tent type Tarp Shelter Building Bushcraft Shelters

2.0meters (5 to 8 feet) long. Six sharpened sticks approx. 30cm long and two trees approx. two to three meters (7 to 10 feet) apart

Again, start by tying off the poncho hood if using a poncho, as you would with a lean-to shelter.

Tie a 1.5 to 2.0meter length of paracord/cordage to the center grommet on each side of the tarp. The opposite ends need to be tied  to the trees creating a tight ridge line for your tent style shelter. The sides of the tent style shelter should be pulled tight and pegged down using the wooden stakes through the grommets in the corners of the tarp.

If you are going to be using the tent style shelter for more than one night you should use a center support. This could be the same as with the lean-to shelter, tie a piece of paracord/cordage around the hood and over a low branch.

An alternative is to build an additional A-frame outside, over the center of the tent. To do this use two stakes approx. 120cm long, one with a forked end. These rest together forming an A-frame for the center line to attach to. The only issue here is stability of the A-frame. To improve this you can use additional lines tied from the a frame to the trees.

The tent style shelter, can be made using stakes instead of trees. A pole should be put from the ground to center grommet along one side of the tarp. The same should be repeated on the opposite side. As with the Lean-to style shelter you will need additional guy ropes to make this stable. If this method is used it reduces even further the room available for accessing and exiting the shelter.

Survival Shelters From Natural Materials

Bushcraft Shelters using What nature provides.

The following shelters can be made in a wooded area using materials that can be found or made from what nature provides. All you need is a knife or blade tool (Even this can be made.) In this article I won’t be going into making cordage. When starting to build these types of shelter I would suggest using Paracord and learn to make cordage as a separate task. Then you can concentrate on making a good strong structure. When working with young people I would recommend the same course of action. These types of shelter take a lot of time, effort, energy and resources over shelters made using a tarp.

Lean-to Shelter

To get started you will need the following.

Lean to Shelter Building shelters

Lean to Shelter Building Bushcraft shelters

  • Two up trees (or strong upright poles) about 2 meters (7 feet) apart.
  • One pole approx.. 2 meters (7 feet) long At least 2.5cm (1 inch) in diameter.
  • Five to eight poles approx.. 3 meters (10 feet) long 2.5cm (1 inch) in diameter
  • Cordage/Paracord for lashing horizontal beams to the trees
  • Saplings to cover/crisscross the beams.

How to build a lean-to shelter.

  1. Lash the 2 meter (7 foot) pole between the two trees or support at approx. waist height. This will form the horizontal support.
  2. Place the 3 meter (10 foot) poles on one side of the horizontal support. As with the lean-to made with a tarp ensure the shelter is facing with the front exposure facing away from the incoming wind.
  3. Alternatively if you have access to many long poles, put a 2 meter (7 foot) poles on either end of the horizontal support. Then lash an extra 3 meter (7 foot) horizontal support half way up between the two poles you have placed at either end of the top supporting pole. Then prior to moving onto the next step place more 2 meter (7 foot) poles next to each other creating a solid lean-to shelter roof. The continue to step 5.
  4. Crisscross saplings or vines across the beams
  5. Cover this with Brush, leaves pine needles or grass. Start at the bottom and make your way to the top.
  6. The thicker this final covering the better the insulation above you.
  7. For additional warmth at night some people recommend heat deflectors. There are arguments as to whether there is any benefit from these deflectors given by these. Personally I would recommend if you have a tarp hang it over the front of the lean-to creating an enclosed sleeping area, with the option of having it open. I believe that this along with additional insulation is the best way of keeping dry and warm.

Adaptations Of This Lean-to Shelter.

Once you have mastered this technique of building structures it is possible to make more adaptations. The Obvious one is to make it into a design similar to the Tent style shelter made with a Tarp. These structures if made well can last years and with a little maintenance will be as efficient as the day you built it. But the time effort and materials needed to make these means it is worth taking time to start making what you want from the beginning with the view to expand. For example, instead of building a straight forward tent style Shelter I would consider a design with a small log wall to give a little more head space.

The Debris Shelter.

This shelter in its basic form is one of my favourites to build with young people. Although they are quite small they are very efficient at keeping in the heat and keeping you dry. The principles involved in building this are simple, the key to success is building it well. It is time consuming but worth the effort.

To start building this you need.

  • A ridge pole, between 2 to 3 meters (7 to 10 feet) ideally over 4cm diameter
  • Two poles to make a Bi-pod to hold the ridge pole up at the entrance. One with a forked end.
  • Sticks of various lengths to stand against full length of ridge pole.

Building A Debris Shelter.

  1. Take the two pieces for the entrance and place them together. They need to provide a support for the ridge pole.
  2. Place the remaining sticks along both sides of the ridge pole. These need to be able to support some weight. As seen in the picture. These need to be relatively close together. Gaps will be closed in the next stage.
    Debris Shelter Building Shelters

    Debris Frame Shelter Building Bushcraft Shelters

  3. Take finer sticks, weave them along the sides, starting to fill in gaps and make the sides stronger. Continue weaving these sticks until stop small debris like pine needles, leaves, grass etc from falling through.
  4. Start adding fine, ideally dry debris to the structure. Although the lattice is to stop this debris falling through, I would recommend trying to start with larger debris. Try and start with dry leaves, a layer of dry leaves will close most smaller holes. There is nothing more demoralising to put effort in to collecting debris to then watch the majority fall through gaps to the floor of your shelter. It is like taking two steps forward one back.
  5. Debris Shelter Building Shelters

    Debris Shelter Building Bushcraft Shelters

    After you have your initial layer on the shelter continue putting the debris until you have at least 1 meter (3 feet) of debris on the shelter. It is a case of more the better. A good judgement is that it should be as thick as the length of an adult’s arm, hand to shoulder.

  6. For the entrance make a lattice door that can be pulled over the door when you are inside. The thicker the better. Once you have you lattice door weave thin saplings into the door. Keep as many leaves on as possible. You can also push leaves or grass into the structure. The thicker the door the more insulation it will create.

Additional Insulation for Shelters

When we are outside we need to remember the importance of keeping warm.  the rule of 3 in survival is an innovative formula, it prepares you to fight with the incapacitating power of nature and give life a fair chance to live. It prioritizes your basic needs in order of priority.

You cannot survive:

3 minutes without air

3 hours without shelter

3 days without water

3 weeks without food

As you can see shelter is second in the list, stating you can only survive approximately three hours without shelter. This statement is based on the assumption that your core body temperature can fall without action being taken to a level you will cause you to die. This can happen day or night to anyone, it is important you are aware of your environment and take action to keep warm. At night it is important that you take precautions before you sleep.

Most heat is lost at night through the ground when people are sleeping. There are two things you can do. First and most important is to ensure you have insulation between you and the ground. The best way to do this is put a layer of material under you like a mattress. Use thin branches, pine needles, grass and dry leaves. Ensure the material is dry and is approx. 30cm thick. Do not use bracken as it often has ticks which can lead to Lymes disease. Saying that, if it is all you can find it is better than hypothermia.

Items of use for building shelters and den building.





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Selecting A Shelter Site

Selecting a Shelter Site

Selecting a good shelter site is the first step to a great shelter

In a survival situation shelter is a high priority, it is important to select a good shelter site as soon as possible. Whilst doing so, bear in mind what you will need at the site.

In relation to the site there are two priorities that initially come to mind, when selecting a shelter site.

Lessons in build a shelter

Lessons in shelter building

  • Contain material to make the type of shelter you need.
  • Be large enough and level enough for you to lie down comfortably.

In addition when you are selecting a shelter site you may need to consider the following:

  • Provides concealment
  • Has escape routes, from animals or people.
  • Is suitable for emergency signalling, if necessary
  • Offers protection against wild animals, rock fall and dead trees that might fall.
  • Free from insects, dangerous reptiles, and poisonous plants.
  • You must remember the problems that could arise in your environment. For instance, avoid:

Flash flood areas in foothills.

  • Avalanches in mountainous terrain.
  • high-water marks.
  • the season of the year has a strong bearing on the site you select. Ideal sites for a shelter differ in winter and summer because you have different needs. During cold winter months you will want a site that will protect you from the cold and wind, but will have a source of necessary fuel and water. During summer in the same area you will want a source of water, but you will also want the site to be almost insect free.

To select a good shelter site follow B.L.I.S.S.

When you are selecting a shelter site you should use the following acronym. B.L.I.S.S.


Blend in with the surroundings.

Low silhouette.

Irregular shape.


Secluded location.

The next step is to start building. To do this you can find all you need outdoors. If you are doing this activity with children you may want to be prepared and have some items that may be useful.Pieces of wood, tarpoline or paracord.


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Prepared to Build a Shelter-First Lessons Bushcraft

Build A Shelter – First Lessons

Are you prepared to build a shelter?

The initial thoughts people have when asked the question “Are you prepared to build a shelter” is “Yes of course I am.” But in reality there maybe questions you haven’t thought about previously. When we teach young people about Shelter building we need to do more than teach how to build a shelter or tie a knot.

Lessons in build a shelter

Lessons in shelter building

It is looking at what our needs are and are we able to meet those need in the time we have. Planning is one of the most important skills you can have to be able to survive. When planning to build a shelter in a survival situation you need to plan more than where should I build it.

Many articles have been written about shelters. Very often the focus is the environment you find yourself, for example a snow hole when there has been heavy snow. Although this may be a factor when considering a shelter, there are many other factors to be considered. Some of these are more important considerations an individual may have to consider.

In my opinion, the most important consideration to be made is what are your needs. Although shelter is a priority in a survival situation, it is also a task that can take a lot of valuable, energy, time and resources. So, your first thoughts should be to answer questions surrounding the following areas.

  • Purpose of your shelter. Build what you need
  • Time, A valuable resource.
  • Resources, Building with what you have not what you want.

What is the reason to build a shelter?

This is where most people make a mistake and a point that many articles fail to cover. So, before you decide to start building it is important you stop and think about what you need. If you are planning to stay outdoors for a long period of time it may be a idea to build a substantial shelter that one that will take more time, energy and resources in the near future. Once you have decided what type of shelter you need you can then consider other critical issues. You might not need a water proof shelter, but you may need one that provides shelter from sun and or wind. Creating the wrong shelter can cost you a lot of time effort and energy.

Time. A valuable resource.

Time is something that has an impact on everyone, no matter what situation we are in. Whether it is our busy everyday lives, at home or at work or a survival situation where your life could depend on it. The first “time question” should be “Why do I need a shelter? You might be thinking that’s obvious, to keep you warm and safe. The problem is you don’t gain anything from that. You need to change your perspective on “Why you need a shelter.” Is it to survive a night or possibly two or are you planning on using your shelter long term. The answer will have a huge influence on what type of shelter you need.

Secondly, how quickly do you need the shelter and how long do you have to build it. If it is getting late on in the day and you need shelter it is unlikely you are going to build a shelter that will last days let alone weeks or months. So, you may have to build an initial shelter that

time prepared to build a shelter

time to shelter

is temporary, until you are able to build a shelter suitable to your needs. That simple shelter may be all you need if you are in a situation where you believe you are only going to need it for a night or two at the most.

I would rather spend a brief period of time to build a shelter that will meet my needs for one night in a limited amount of time than attempt to build something that is half finished and leaves me vulnerable during the night.

Resources, you can’t build with what you don’t have.

You may have decided on the type of shelter you need, but do you have access to the materials you are going to need. Initially you may look around and think “Sure I do, I am in a forest” But collecting sufficient quantities of materials that are suitable for what you plan to do can take a lot of energy and time. There may be plenty of resources but collecting it may take longer because you don’t have enough energy or time. You may need a temporary shelter to enable you to get the resources you need.

When making these decisions you also need to bear in mind do I have necessary tools to coolect the resources needed to build your shelter.

As you can see when it comes to building a shelter it is important you take time to plan what you need, what resources you need, how you will collect them and what shelter you may need in the interim. Planning is important in a survival situation as much if not more than everyday life. Your life may depend on it.

When doing activities with young people you may start with simple den building activities and make the activities more difficult as they build on their skills. To make the activities varied for young people you can add scenarios to the activities. These can be…

  • Providing them with limited resources
  • Limited resources
  • Time limits
  • To build a shelter for a designated environment or situation.

Adding these variations lets the young people learn new skills but also how to develop skills that are useful in everyday life. Plus, it can make the activity much more fun.

We all need to have the practical skills to survive, we also need to have the skills and abilities to use those skills in a way that you meet your needs when you need to.


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Family Safety In A Modern World

Family Safety In A Modern World

Family Safety In A Modern World

Family Safety in a modern world is an important concept we need to address, whether we are parents or working with young people. The modern world we are living in is continually changing and the threats we face are changing with it. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our families, our children and our communities.

Threats Today

Recent incidents in the UK and around the world show a disturbing change in the threats our citizens face.

Family Safety In A Modern World

Family Safety In A Modern World

We are living in a dangerous world. At the Manchester Arena and Westminster Bridge, there have been attacks which have targeted everyone. It is irrelevant of the victims age, sex, religion or nationality. We are seeing more attacks like the Westminster Bridge Incident. A home-grown extremist drove a vehicle into innocent citizens then stabbing a Police Officer to death. This left six people dead and fifty injured.

This type of attack is sadly becoming more common, the weapons were a vehicle and a knife. Everyday items that are available to anyone and can be used as weapon by people who are unstable or believe they have a grudge to bear. Terrorism has started to use methods that are simple and easily implemented without needing specialist contacts/suppliers.

We have security services that are using their resources to target these people when they become known. They need to balance gaining evidence and having enough to form a case that will hold up in a court of law. Arrest to soon and they show their hand, consequently we can then have terrorists who know they are under surveillance. Leave it to late, these unbalance and unpredictable individuals and groups could launch an attack. The truth is, we as a nation are not always going to be able to stop attacks.

Beware of your Surroundings, beware of politicians.

safety on a modern world

How many politicians live in the real world

After terrorist attacks we often see politicians in the media saying we won’t hide from terrorists we are not frightened. These people are often surrounded with bodyguards and bullet proof cars, if not they have security measures not available to the average person.

I am not writing this to frighten you, the likelihood of being involved in a terrorist attack is still relatively low. However, the threats to our safety and our family’s safety are not just from Terrorism. We are now faced with Burglaries, home invasions, carjacking, Cyber-crime, street crime and even what is often called low level street crime. I firmly believe we have a responsibility to our families and ourselves, alternatively we could put our heads in the sand and hope it never happens to us. We could convince ourselves it will never happen to “Me”, however, that attitude isn’t much use if you end up in one of these situations.

Specialised Help Is Here.

I served as a police officer, most of my career was spent on the streets, often working with crime teams to tackle all types of crime and as an undercover officer in the Special Ops. Department. I want to pass on skills I have learned to help you keep safe and keep your family safe. One area I want to focus on is children and how they can be kept safe and how they can keep themselves safer.

Many skills are taught to the police and more specialised skills as you specialise. Some skills I learned on the streets from the very people who are committing crime. I learned skills to keep safe from the people who are looking to put people in danger and use them to keep me safe whilst on the streets undercover.

More articles will be written about how you and your family can be kept safe.

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