What is Woodsmoke ?
Woodsmoke is an attempt to put our version of Classic Camping into context by trying to identify it's roots, explain where it fits in with historic outdoor traditions, and create a description that would help all of us explain to others what it is that we do. We were also aware that the misunderstood term - Traditional Bushcraft - is in desperate need of definition as well.
Here's what we came up with.; it's open for discussion. We, however, have begun a journey that we hope will let others understand the field better, and provide a foundation upon which to promote it for years to come.
What Is Bushcraft ?
What Is Classic Camping ?
Classic Camping is a modern-day reflection of the Golden Age of Camping - between the years 1880 and 1930 - a time when the traditions of the frontier - skills from the land - and modern technology clashed, creating a fertile time and attitude for society to redefine it's need for reconnecting to the land by mastering skills and techniques, as well as utilizing simple technologies and crafts that provided them access and a return to the sylvan life.
Classic Camping is:
A Time - It's a time to re-create. The simple point of camping was to camp well - with style. It's a time when the traditions of the past were still accessible and mentors were available to teach the skills and guide the mastery of the crafts. It was a time when camping wasn't needed just to meet other ends - prospecting, exploring, war, etc. - it was the first time camping was undertaken for the simple joy of being in the outdoors in the woodsmoke.
A Place - Our modern view of the outdoors is through a set of eyes that sees everything the same. The eyes of the classic camper see patterns, variety, and magic. The wild outdoors is full of lessons to be learned on it's terms. When we separate ourselves from place, we lose a part of ourselves. The skills of the classic camper require a connection to place in order to survive.
Gear - There is no denying it - Classic Campers are gear heads; it's just that we choose to be obsessed with gear from a certain period of time. Outdoorsmen have always been seduced by new invention. Clothing is a part of our gear choice - it is shelter. Gear that forces us to apply technique as well as embrace the land enhances rather than impedes our return to it.
Nostalgic - Lots of people won't admit it, but a good dose of nostalgia is fun. Hearkening back to days when we camped as kids, read books that made us dream, and made things that connected our hands to our heads and hearts. It was a fine time. The glow of the oil lamp, the smell of canvas, leather and smoke, the taste of food cooked over an open fire are all keys to living back.
And More ......
Bushcarft is many things to many people. It may be best to start out by reflecting on definitions written by people who teach it on a daily basis.
Bushcraft is the term I employ to describe a deeper knowledge of the wild and of nature. It is a huge tree that branches out in many directions to botany, zoology, craft work, outdoors leadership and countless other divisions. At its root, though, is reliance upon oneself and on nature. In the study of bushcraft we step beyond survival and learn the subtlety that makes outdoor life both certain and enjoyable. Everyone who visits wild places will benefit from bushcraft knowledge. Ray Mears, Woodlore
Bushcraft is the active component of our interaction with the natural world. Both art and science, bushcraft is doing, making, crafting, traveling, building and living in the natural world. It is an inclusive term for doing things outdoors and is comprised of activities such as, but not limited to, primitive skills, modern survival, classic camping, expeditionary skills, prepping, hiking, paddling, crafting and outdoor living, as well as more specialized disciplines such as hunting, fishing and trapping. Bushcraft has no political agenda or worldview, isn't about preparing for the end of the world, and isn't an "ism". It is made up of people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds who share a love for being active outdoors. Ultimately, bushcraft is defined by those who participate, but it is the sum of these definitions, not the individual parts, that define it as a whole. Tim Smith, Jack Mountain Bushcraft
The term "bushcraft" is sometimes used synonymously with survival skills, but this definition does not encompass the full meaning of the word. Although there is considerable crossover, the idea of bushcraft is not just to survive but to live well, even thrive, in the wilderness through the use of traditional techniques from around the world. Bushcraftnorthwest.com
Based on these definitions, it's easy to see why the video that follows is presented in a way that tries to clarify the parts by examining where they are similar rather than how they differ. The beauty of bringing classic campers, bushcrafters and survivalists together in one camp is that it removes arbitrary lines that separate us, and helps us see each other in a light of common interests and experience. Bushcraft is the common point where all three fields overlap. It is the skills that bring us together. Once we accept that, we can really begin to learn from each other. What we do with the skills and how we employ them, is of course up to the individual. But the coming together of these 3 diverse yet similar fields is an important step toward creating a strong foundation for our future development. The terms and tools we use in our individual fields may vary - fieldcraft, campcraft, woodcraft, trailcraft, woodslore, bushcraft - but they all emanate from a common point - the land and our relationship to it.
Is it an Anachronism?
(anachronisim - a person, object, thing or event that is chronologically out of place, especially one appropriate to an earlier period. ...something that is not appropriate for the time) • Are these traditions out of place for our time? Research has shown that Classic Camping skills and crafts are as effective in teaching the ideals of Adventure and Outdoor/Environmental Education as any modern approach - more so in many ways. Even though dressing-up yourself and your camp in the "old style" may not be your "cup of tea," the skills and majority of the clothing and equipment are as appropriate for living in the outdoors today as they ever were - again, even more so in many ways. The growing field of Bushcraft understands this concept and has adopted many of the classic traditions and now applies them in a whole new genre of outdoor living skills. The Classic Camper is not only a re-eanactor, but also one who defers to these skills and technologies by choice to live comfortably and safely in the outdoors.
For the re-enactor - "Living History is not only about accurately portraying the past but also trying to gain insight into the mindset of our ancestors by exploring their written instructions about life’s activities as they survived till our times. Ideally this should be done with reconstructed clothing and equipment from those times."
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Rustic . Romantic . Real
- Steve Watts -
- Classic Camping Defined -
Classic Camping is the use of tools, techniques and traditions in the style of the Golden Age of Camping (1880-1930).
“Where the frontier skills of Daniel Boone meet the industrial age of Henry Ford.”
Classic Camping is:
• directly connected to it’s historic context.
• an understanding and appreciation for handmade craft.
• the use of classic style – timeless utility - aesthetic efficiency.
• a comfortable confessed relationship with romance and nostalgia.
• re-creative and fun.
- Steve Watts and David Wescott -