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St. Croix 100 - #08 Bush SkillsHave you ever wondered if you have what it takes to survive in the wild? The idea of learning and practicing survival skills is growing in popularity across the globe, and St. Croix is no exception. Here on the island we refer to the rainforest and uncultivated areas of the island as the ‘bush’, and many traditional bush skills have been practiced and passed down for generations. So take the opportunity to learn some of these engaging bush skills while you are here.

While most think of St. Croix as white sand beaches and blue Caribbean waters, the island’s terrain is actually quite diverse. Ranging from the arid desert-like East End to the rainforest of the West End, St. Croix offers a fair amount of bush in which to learn and practice bush skills. If you are like I was before my first visit to Mount Victory Camp, you may find yourself asking ‘what are bush skills’? Think of yourself as being stranded in the rainforest (or anywhere for that matter)…at a bare minimum you would need to be able to find food and water, and build some kind of shelter. Knowing the right bush skills allow you to meet those basic needs, and much more. You can learn to make fire by using friction, or make your own rope or cord using natural fibers from your surroundings. Learn to identify plants that are edible, which plants have medicinal uses, and which have practical uses so they you can gather food from your surroundings. Learn to make basic tools for hunting, fishing, and preparing food so you can feed yourself and your loved ones off the land.

Bush Skills - Fire Making

Mount Victory Camp’s Matt Corradino demonstrating how to make fire.

Obviously, you want to learn proper bush skills and techniques from an expert. Luckily, there are several groups of experts here on the island that offer classes, workshops and guided hikes that will teach you some of the most popular and useful bush skills including:

  • Primitive fire making
  • Primitive shelter building
  • Making rope and cord form natural fibers
  • Basket weaving
  • Wild food collection and preparation
  • Wild plant identification and their uses
  • Primitive pottery
  • Stone tool making
  • Bowmaking
  • Tracking and awareness
  • Making spears and nets for fishing
Bush Skills - Tracking & Movement

Tom Brown III teaching about stalking and movement at the 10th Annual Bush Skills Caribbean Rendezvous

If you truly enjoy camping, and want to make a week of learning bush skills, there are annual week long events such as Bush Skills Caribbean Rendezvous, Tropical Skills Class, and Calabash Survival Quest. These events offer different levels of primitive bush and survival skills, as well as incorporating some of the ecological, cultural and historical aspects of St. Croix. You and your family can learn bush skills that will help you to survive and thrive from the rainforest, to the farm, to the sea while enjoying the natural beauty of St. Croix.

Aside from the obvious usefulness, learning bush skills builds confidence, teaches self-sufficiency, allows you to reconnect with nature, and it’s a great way to meet new people and to spend quality time with friends and family. Tom Brown III, considered to be one of the foremost instructors of primitive technology and primitive wilderness survival, said it best when he said: ‘First and foremost, learning primitive living skills helps connect us to the earth. When me make the tools we need from things we gather off the landscape, it affords us an intimate understanding of the beings we share the planet with. We see the many uses of each plant and animal and how they can sustain us. It connects us to the circle of life and death, something we as a species have removed ourselves from.’ Don’t worry if you are not the ‘outdoorsy type’, you can take a workshop that is only half a day long and still come out with a new bush skill. However you choose to get started, I highly recommend that you unplug, and get back to basics by learning some bush skills.

– Jennie Ogden, Editor

 

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