TurnAround.bushcraftAs Thoreau – that wonderful wilderness philospher wrote
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

 so did our TurnAround group of young people on Saturday last. Kindly offered to us by our Patron Lord Petre, we were able to set up a bushcraft, leave no trace, camp in a special part of Writtle Woods which he owns.
Andy Cooper was our bushcraft man for the day – and had set up camp for when we arrived. A beautiful morning of sunshine that had me tempted to wear shorts and a T-shirt, soon turned to rain and hail and then returned to sunshine with me luckily by now attired in a puffer jacket and thick trousers and fleece. Listening to the early weather report had us prepared and we had extra clothing for our participants as they sat round the fire, learning about Andy and his life story, why we do things in bushcraft and leave no trace as we do, and also talking and sharing their thoughts on the theme of the day which was ‘resilience’.
The group has grown so much in six months of being together, that our regular check in and ‘what has been happening’ can now be quite a long session of sharing and reflecting, rather than our initial ‘don’t know’. Hugely rewarding and a safe space to put life’s ups and downs into a group who genuinely look out for each other in a very special way.
We got lunch of beans and sausages on the go, chatted to walkers coming past, and then got on with flint based fire making. A big challenge for some people who have no patience but they all succeeded, with one young man, insisting and tenaciously sticking out the most difficult technique to the end where his flames took and his fire started. Sadly, this is the one fire I killed by trying to be too helpful and put leaves on it which suffocated the flames. he was, I have to say extremely polite,in public at least!
After lunch and more chats we got on with shelter building with one of our lads in charge – who relished the task and before long we were trying out our new bush quarters – with lots of satisfaction and fun in the making. (I have yet to see any as elaborate as my childhood dens though – I went for the serious homestead effect with kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, pantry etc…I guess something to do with space around you in Africa or a wild imagination.) Ended up clearing the last bits with Andy, ensuring no one would guess we had been there after we used our minimum impact ethics in camp disengagement, walked to the cars, said farewells and were off.
Out of ten – the young people were asked – what would you rate today – ten they said.  In my world that was a good day’s work.