Cliques, spoons and Survival vs Bushcraft: "
I am in contact with a lot of outdoors instructors on a daily basis. From day camp counselors who teach wilderness skills to the kiddos, to veteran military survival-style instructors, to people that have recently earned the term 'Bush Hippy', but I call quiet primitive enthusiasts. I've made a lot of friends in this field, and I'm sure the occasional non-friend (wouldn't call them an enemy, because we remain civil). I'm sure it's the same with everyone else in this field. But I've noticed something incredible, and I know I'm not alone.
The lines get drawn, the followers pick up their weapons (Mora versus Machete most often it seems, but that's a different story), and they head to the battleground.. the online forum. Or sometimes a private chatroom or... well.. a blog. Ironic that I'm using it too then? Maybe, who knows.. But I've noticed people become gung-ho for our celebrity outdoorspeople; Ray Mears, Les Stroud, Bear Gryllis, Hawke, Lundin, Canterbury, the list goes on.
The followers become rabid once in a while, and more often than not, those that just need to stir the pot start something. Eventually the forums are bombarded with ridiculous arguments, and the videos on youtube are filled to the brim with endless diatribe in their comments. It makes a lot of us look foolish, and if you are/aren't a fan of so-and-so, well then you're obviously a moron.
I hear people worship Ray Mears. I also know several instructors that bad mouth the bloke. I've never met him, but I've met a few folks that have, and they all say he's a nice guy. I've only met Les Stroud once, and that was so faint I doubt he'd remember me even if I showed him a hundred photos.
We all get irritated with stuff in the forums, or out there among viewers of these shows. I know I get frustrated all the time, and sometimes I think I could make a better tv show than any of 'those idiots'. I let ego and id get involved and suddenly I forget that 'those idiots' obviously earned the fame. It's hard to fake survival skills, though tv can do anything. Trust me, when I started out I tried to fake a lot. I sucked and everyone knew it. That simple. I'm sure any other young teen trying to impress friends did similar things. We all get busted and embarassed and learn not to lie or fake it.
The cliques out there, following one guy or another, one 'style' or another gets tiresome. It really does. I don't like to generalize everything into one title like 'Wilderness Skills', but my god.. Aircrew Survival, Bushcraft, Primitive Living Skills, Long-term survival, Modern Survival, Canoe Camping.. Ultralight backpacking... if I hear another 'Style' today I think I'll need a muscle relaxant or something.
A lot of people are following Ray Mears, I know quite a few of these people personally. They practise their knifecarving skills by shaping spoons, walking sticks and gorgeous wood spirits. These people enjoy using their smaller knives to shape the tools they find helpful in the field. To me a spoon is helpful, though a flattened stick gets the same job done. Better yet, split a twig and insert a cleaned mussel shell. There, perfect spoon and no carving! However, I do on occasion make a spoon. Why? The curves, thinness of the handle, size, and everything else help me practise my knife skills. The better I am at knifework, the more efficient I am in the field. That simple. However a lot of folks take it to an extreme. Some folks focus on just the spooncarving, as do they only focus on the Mora knife when it comes to knife selection. On the other hand, there's folks that mock anyone that carves a spoon. Me? I believe there is a middle-way to it all;
Do not focus on just survival skills. The basics just keep you alive. You want to thrive, no?
Use common sense. When it's a blizzard and it is -40, don't decide to carve a spoon
Respect all comers to this field. The less closed minds and more open ones we have, the better off we'll all be.
Remember, just because your way works doesn't mean it's the only way. I've met lots of people who I argued with till I was blue in the face. Only then did I realize they may have had a point.
Mora versus Machete: Who cares? If it works for you, than it works for you (the answer is Machete though... just kidding).