Raised With Wilderness Skills

Don’t leave the kids out of the things you find important…

Nota bene! The following ramble was written at three in the morning and may contain sentiment, ramblings, and a bit of opinion. I don’t want this to sound preachy.  What was intended as a few childhood pictures from primitive technology events ran away with itself in the dark hours between sleeps.  ~G


Learning to shoot at an early age. Skills like this build coordination, confidence, and an understanding of the greater things in life.

There is a certain amount of balance that can become of the unique skills we gain along the path of our lives.  Some people come to events, take classes, and return to the ‘normal’ life at the end of the week relatively unscathed by the learning they paid for and the time spent.

The first brain-tanned shirt and wearing it with pride. It was a hand-me-down from a friend’s daughter.

To closely paraphrase a linguistic anthropologist I knew long ago,

“Some things we love are embraced the way most people embrace their religion, they take away some message, feel strongly about it, but leave it for Sundays. When we find the thing that is our passion, we embrace it like a lover; it encompasses all our thoughts and becomes our entire life.”  ~L.F.

This is how I feel about primitive skills, wilderness living, and pre-industrial craftsmanship.  Without consciously trying, it just became a part of life growing ever stronger from teenage into full adulthood.  While living in the consumer world, this alternative floated in the background of the mind and continued to influence activities when our child came along.

We were not perfect parents.  Far from it.  But we were consciously better than our own.  We really tried.  We learned.  I sometimes wish I had it to do all over again.  Overall, I think we did pretty well and were lucky in many ways.  We encouraged exploration, learning, and self-reliance.  By not child-proofing everything or creating needless prohibitions, we were forced to be more aware and in the present.  Yes, it is probably more work and yes, it can be exhausting but children should learn their most valuable lessons at home from family, whatever ‘family’ may mean to you and yours.

Every kid and every family is different.  They aren’t robots and it is clear to any observer that they have a mind and ideas of their own from a very early age.  We can only steer them as best we can, present them with our ideas and beliefs, and provide the types of opportunities we think will give them a good grounding for their future lives before setting them free to try their skills in the world.

Examining a fish-hook cactus in the Sonoran desert.

It makes me sad hear or to read in social media that parents that I actually know are so down on the next generation.  Complaining that they don’t go outdoors, have useful lifeskills, proudly hitting them, or even ridiculing them for using the technology they themselves provided.  If that is the case, the blame is only ours!  We cannot place the blame on media and movies and video games, schools, government or a general millennial malaise.  It is not anyone else’s job to raise our children well.  We are, to a large degree, culpable.  When I hear a parent complain that their kid watches too much TV, or plays too many video games, I am baffled.

None of us are perfect, but we can give the following generations the values and ideals we may only cherish in the abstract.

DSCN2530

Modelling the yucca fiber skirt with her buckskin shirt.  A monumental amount of yucca processing.

The intended descriptions have strayed into a hopelessly sentimental post, but anyway, enjoy some of my favorite photos I dug out recently.

Winter Count 2009 - 67

Making fire in the Arizona desert 2009.

I leave you with this broad paraphrasing of Edward Abbey:

Give them the skills and encouragement to get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with friends.  Let them ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air.   And at the end of the day, sit quietly for a while with them and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space we call earth.

We are fed by those that surround us. Choose wisely.

We are fed by those that surround us. Choose wisely.

Blacksmithing her first knife.

I hope to see a few of you in the great outdoors very soon.  And don’t forget to bring the family if you can.

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About George Crawford

archaeologist, archer, primitive technologist, and wannabee musician ... mostly
This entry was posted in parenting, primitive technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Raised With Wilderness Skills

  1. John Kaay says:

    This is great universal advice. My loves are art, music, baking, and woodworking. It’s great to see my influence in my daughters adult lives. I don’t have any bakers or woodworkers yet, but I baked a pie with one of my grandsons last week, and he loved it, so I have hopes for the third generation. Who knows maybe in 20 or 30 years they’ll remember what Grandpa used to do and give it a try.

  2. Jake Levi says:

    Right on George !

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  3. Bob Mckeand says:

    Great post! The freedom I had as a child (72 now) is greatly reduced now. The world has more problems than in my day, but doing stuff with the parents and such is fine. Tech is very seductive, but make em sit on the lawn to play with that phone.

    Build your soapbox higher and shout it all the louder. Thanks.

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