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  • Plant Identification for Wild food and Medicine

    Just 2 places left

    29 May 2018

    Plant identification for wild foods and Medicine

    2 places left on this exploration into the world of plants and trees

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Certificate in Bushcraft Leadership Testimonials - Class of 2008/09

Damian Kidd

Damian90x90"There are many schools & instructors out there, but none quite like John Rhyder & Woodcraft School (WCS), John has a never ending wealth of knowledge, patience & a quite obvious passion for what he teaches. Johns structured learning process never leaves you wondering, or asking what if?

True to the saying "Behind all great men, There is a great woman", and that woman is Caron Buckingham, who currently runs the WCS office.

Naturally there were worries, fears & excitement at the interview for all, but this soon passed as John sat us down, introduced himself & explained what the day held for us.

The year long Instructor course seemed like a huge mountain to climb, but now after the final session, it seems like only yesterday, I was sweating over whether I had been accepted or not.

How did WCS work for me?

I arrived brimming with information & knowledge, unfortunately my knowledge was like a used archery target, full of holes. (Although after the archery competition held at camp, it was obvious my arrows didn't make the holes). John along with the structured course he has designed, dismantled my knowledge base, laid down a solid foundation and then month by month re-built it filling in all the holes along the way, the Archery target is now long gone, and in its place stands a fortified castle.

Once the days learning came to an end, the evenings were handed over to the students, group cooking, cheese boards & Bushcraft TV (The camp fire).

I can honestly say I've never laughed as much as I have while at camp, and returning home heavier than I left, shows just how good the food was.

I have busy times ahead as I continue my journey with my own school of teaching John, Caron, Nick & Phil I would like to thank you for a truly life changing experience, and of course all my fellow students who made it such fun, Thanks!"

Where are they now?

Damian has started his own school of bushcraft called Chameleon Bushcraft Woodland Survival Skills.

Matthew Higham

matthigham90x90"Having spent a significant amount of my life practising various outdoor pursuits, I started the Instructors Course with a great deal of enthusiasm, but more than a little bit of uncertainty. Having never been on any previous bushcraft courses I had no idea how my skills would stack up against those of the others around me, of if I would have sufficient knowledge to complete the course.

It soon became clear that any apprehension was misplaced, as I realised the skill and knowledge varied greatly amongst the group, with everyone having completely different backgrounds and therefore skills, strengths and weaknesses. We quickly began helping each other out and sharing the knowledge throughout the group until we all excelled at all aspects of the course.

Along with the practical bushcraft skills which I perfected over the 10 months at Woodcraft School, the course has also given me an understanding of many other subjects, much of which came from fellow students. Varied subjects, such as learning and teaching styles, communication and leadership frameworks, business sense, edible plants and fungi, medicinal plants and trees and of course a keen interest in Latin!! Big thanks to all of the students for creating such a good learning environment and for having such good senses of team play and humour!!

Of course the instructors, John and Nick had a large part to play in my learning, and always managed to convey the sometimes complex information in a manner which could be understood by the whole group. It doesn't take long in John's company to realise he is a walking encyclopedia of the woods!! I've known few people with such a lot of natural history in their heads! And Nick's creativity, craftwork and artistic skills put most of us to shame....he clearly has a talent, that one!! We were lucky to have been taught by two such enthusiastic and knowledgeable instructors!

I'd recommend this course to anyone, 'cos it's a fantastic way to spend ten weeks of your year even if you don't want to be a bushcraft instructor! For those who need to gain a bit more experience first, Woodcraft School run all kinds of courses to get you up to speed beforehand, so give it a bash......it's well worth it!!"

Where are they now?

Matt is opening his own bushcraft school near Edinburgh.

Keith Boseley

keithboseley"Having attended various Woodcraft School courses since 2003 and developing a great respect for the teaching abilities of John and his assistant instructors, the choice of furthering my bushcraft skills by applying for the instructors course was not hard to take especially as the school runs the only nationally accredited courses in the country.

Being self employed it was the time off work that was the problem although the cost is not insignificant. My questions were. Can I afford the time off work? What are the benefits of the qualification? What would be the rest of the students be like?

The course is a large commitment but now in retrospect every moment was worthwhile. Sleeping in a natural lean to shelter with the snow around, making bows, tracking the local animals are memories that will stay with me but above all it was the camaraderie of the group that was the most important. Every student brought experience into the group and their skills were shared with the other students.

Whether we will all stay in touch remains to be seen but we shall always retain our friendships.

The portfolios we produce for the verification of our learning can turn out to be our own personal Bushcraft manuals which I am still adding to so I can turn it into programmes for teaching.

From being a child chasing adders on the railway bank (steam locos, I am that old!) to my years as a gardener, scout leader and general outdoor enthusiast this course seemed to bring it all together.

I cannot recommend the course high enough as besides the qualifications we receive, it gives us the tools to progress further within the Bushcraft industry."

Where are they now?

Working as a freelance instructor in schools and in scouting.

Jonathan Whymark

jonathan-whymark"The course was very well designed in terms of coverage although the requirements of the portfolio need some clarity. The information about conservation was very valuable. There are a few "bushcraft" outfits who don't even know what trees are in their woods let alone how to look after them properly. Bushcraft should be about sustainable living and the course certainly teaches you to only take what you need and even them to take it in a careful and respectful way. The people you meet on a course like this can be a mixed bag but the course was all the more enjoyable for it. I learned a lot from my fellow students and I also grew in confidence about the stuff I thought I already knew.

John's teaching style is very laid back which suited me. John is also very good at facilitating learning between the students rather than the focus being on him all the time. One couldn't go without mentioning Nick. He was also very knowledgeable and his humour around the camp fire was always entertaining. Nick was also a very good teacher who allowed us to explore what we thought we knew whilst adding bits of his own knowledge.

Thanks for a great 10 months. I thoroughly enjoyed it."

James White

james-white"So what can i say about Woodcraft School, perhaps a little ditty for one and for all"

"The year has now passed im an instructor at last"

"Some fire some water some shelter some plants, loads of the latin but i gave it a chance"

"The bow drill my lover my enemy my friend, dont worry John ill keep trying to the end"

"So many faces and friendships now made, the blood and the sweat a price gladly paied"

"To sum it all up that wonderful year, id recomend Woodcraft to everyone, now im off for a beer!"

Where are they now?

James has set up his own bushcraft company www.sunrisebushcraft.com

Richard Tiley

Richard-Tiley"This has been a superb course. It is not, however, for those who want or need to improve their skills as bushcrafters, though there is plenty of opportunity for that during the ten months. It is much more about having both the competence and confidence to lead sessions of bushcraft, making the subject accessible and interesting, while cultivating a sensitivity to the woodland environment.

Its two greatest strengths lie in becoming familiar with a particular woodland through all the seasons and the quality of teaching. John Rhyder has the use of a very beautiful area of woodland as his classroom and uses it to great effect. The tuition style is quiet and always underpinned by an extraordinary depth of knowledge and wry sense of humour.

If there are any criticisms to be levelled at it, they would lie in the preparation of the portfolio. This is purely because the NCFE, as an outside body, need some evidence both of proficiency and of progress during the year, rather than John wishing to inflict a heavy typing burden on to his students. For a subject area that is outdoors and, essentially, practical, it does seem slightly perverse that so much time is spent at the keyboard. That said, the resulting document will be very useful as a resource and is, of course, an 'organic' thing – growing with the experience and interests of the student. Maybe a way of improving this would be for the NCFE to send out their assessors with slightly greater regularity to see and judge the students by what they say and, crucially, what they do.

Despite this one perceived stumbling block, the course has afforded me an opportunity to understand and appreciate woodlands, and wilderness areas generally, in a very much deeper and more meaningful way. My skills have been significantly enhanced and, perhaps best of all, I have made some very close friends with whom I hope to continue working in the future.

Is the course good? Absolutely: it is the best thing I think I have ever done."

Where are they now?

Richard is head of English at Beaudesert School and will be incorporating his knowledge into extra curricular activities for the school. He will also be offering his services out as a freelance instructor once the exams are out of the way...

Daryl Peters

daryl-peters"The instructor's course has been an extremely enjoyable 12 months crammed into 10. The amount of work involved can be daunting especially in relation to the portfolio so start early. However despite this I cannot recommend this course enough for those intending to teach bushcraft either on a business or voluntary basis. It equips you with a broad spectrum of useful skills and knowledge which not only relate to bushcraft, but also the skills required to safely and effectively pass that information on. The Woodcraft School team are excellent, and offer continued encouragement and provide a laid back environment to learn in. Those of you who choose to enrol in this program have a much improved site to work on, no more knee high mud bogs to wade through to get to camp, and a heated round house for those inevitable days of inclement weather. All this leaves me to say is" enjoy the course"- I did!!"

Jamie Corry

Jamie-Corry90x90"The course has ended but this is just the beginning. What's the next move going to be and where did that year go? I have gained so much from this last year in terms of bushcraft, woodland and teaching skills as well as learning about myself: how I learn and study; interact and work with people; and how the world is made up of such a strange and colourful bunch of characters.

The instructors, John and Nick (also Nick and Phil) were fantastic. They were open, fun but professional, unbelievably knowledgeable and willing to impart that knowledge. Thanks for all the help. Also to Caron who is amazing behind the scenes.

Highpoints in no particular order (just a few): The bow making; arrow making; shooting, not firing the bows (next time Nick!); all the carving, especially late night around the stove and fire; loved the sweet chestnut bark quivers (probably the biggest unexpected pleasure); the hangi (best tasting meat I've ever had and I've eaten a lot of meat); learning so much from all my fellow students; Steve and the buckskin making; Richards' sausage casserole, Daryls' chorizo paella, the freezing nights and learning how to cope; handing that portfolio in (one of the best feeling I have ever had); and can't forget the throwing axe!

Low points: Trying to get all that Latin in my head; finishing the portfolio (always seemed like there was so much to do); and knowing I don't have those 5 days monthly anymore.

It feels so good to have finished the course but now all the theory is done it's time to get in the hours practicing not just the practical side but the teaching as well. The way to really test whether it has all gone in is to be able to pass on the knowledge to others. There's still so much to learn but what a step up from a year ago."

Where are they now?

Jamie works for the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust as Youth Volunteering Officer and is integrating Bushcraft into his everyday work which is proving invaluable in engaging with hard to reach groups.

Graham West

GrahamWest"What an amazing year it has been! The course exceeded all my expectations and I have learnt so much over the last ten months. Living and working in such a beautiful woodland setting made the course even more special and I shall miss my monthly escape to the Woodcraft School. John Rhyder and Nick McMillen have been superb tutors - ever patient and always ready to offer help or advice. I am extremely grateful to them both for their expertise.

There were too many highlights to mention them all, but the bow making, the camaraderie, and the laughter around the camp fire all stand out. One of the best moments was beating John in the archery competition on the final night - I don't think that has ever been achieved before!

The only low point was that it all had to come to an end. But I've made friends for life and I've learned many new skills.

Would I do it all again? You'd better believe it!"

Where are they now?

Currently working for the South Downs Joint Committee as a Countryside Ranger.He is also using his bushcraft instructor qualification with the Scouts in West Sussex.



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