This summer, Kaia and I decided to consciously study survival skills. What would we do if we were without our normal comforts, how would we survive? What if she were lost in the forest? What if she had to find clean water… food… fire…
I began a long list of things that I would like us to learn. Things they don’t teach in schools that are supposed to teach our kids how to ‘survive’ in the big world.
This week, we had a fabulous opportunity to work on this list at the Firefly Gathering. Only 50 minutes south of us, once a year, is an amazing gathering of people sharing their primitive survival and sustainable living skills. So, Kaia and I packed up our hammocks and headed out.
During the 2 days we were there, the woods filled with tents, hammocks, and make-shift living quarters. This picture above was taken as we arrived and the woods still seemed quiet. We arrived a little early, so we had some time to wonder and explore.
We learned that there are many trade blankets and barter circles, but Kaia and I arrived without bringing anything to trade. So, she quickly gathered sticks and began whittling. At the trading blanket that we went to, people were looking to trade things like hand blown glass flutes, and hand crafted jewelry and medicines. I was worried that no one would want to trade for a simple hand whittled boat. But a sweet mother went and got her tie-dyes specifically so she could trade something with Kaia. Very kind!
Kaia and I stayed for only two of the 4 days. Her birthday is the same weekend as the gathering, so we left early to make cake and have a party. But, while we were there, I took a class on starting a fire with flint and steel. VERY cool!
It felt so empowering and satisfying to get a fire going with just a rock, a piece of steel, and some cedar bark! I’m planning on making a little kit to carry with me, so watch out people!!
My second class, which Kaia took with me, was on snares and deadfall traps. It was a fabulous class. I think I’d like to get a book on this to really study some of the traps and snares in more detail.
This is another fancy trap, I think the teacher said it originated in Africa. Yes, our teacher wore only a leather loin cloth.
The third class I took was on making and using slingshots. I really had no idea how potent slingshots could be. I always thought of them as toys, but man, these things really packed a punch! We started with a Y branch of a tree, whittled it down, added some rubber bands, and a leather pouch (to hold your ammo). I was surprised how similar it is to archery in how you stand and aim. I was able to hit targets pretty accurately. The teacher is a well known archer and sling shot champion. He also creates the most beautiful slingshots I’ve ever seen.
My final class was on starting fire with a bow drill. We created all of our equipment. I have to say, flint and steel are so much easier. I worked my butt off and was able to get lots of smoke and some nice embers, but I just could not get the fire to take. By the end of the class, my hands had blisters and my arms were worn out. Very fun though. I need to practice at home so I can do it if I ever need to.
While I was doing all of this, Kaia was also taking classes on basket making and wilderness survival skills. We both want to go back for the full 4 days next year!!!