Monday, February 24, 2014

Raising Little Woodsmen

The children in our family have grown up playing in the woods.

They have spent hours building tree forts, tearing them down and building new ones. 
 They have bounded through the trees and out of sight to play since they could toddle. 
 They are very comfortable in the woods, and we think nothing of it.  
...until someone says something out of astonishment at what the children are up to.   

  Come free time in the afternoon, they head off down the trail and out of sight.  
After a while a thin column of smoke is seen rising out in the woods
 and I know the general whereabouts of our little woodsmen. 
They have built a fire near where they are playing to keep them warm.  
They probably have a mess kit by which they are sipping some hot broth or tea.  
The play scenario is likely that they are stranded, someone is wounded and needs to be cared for, 
a litter made, an emergency shelter built, and the patient tended to.

Daddy has seen to it that they know all the woodsmen basics:
                                        how to build a fire with matches or flint and steel
                                        how to make a lean to shelter
                                        how to shoot a bow
                                        how to shoot a gun
                                        how to use a pocket knife correctly
                                        how to tell what direction is north
                                        how to cook over an open fire 
                                        how to skin  and gut an animal
                                        how to find edible plants
                                        how to use a compass
                                        how to use cover and concealment
....and the list is ever growing.  

Here is Ben (9) and Jim (12) getting their fire going with flint and steel.

Besides being a good use of their time, these skill sets teach the boys responsibility,
 and give them that sense of manliness that makes them walk a little taller.  

Recently, they came in from their outdoor time and were not hungry for tea. 
"No thanks, mom, we got hungry out there, so we dug up some cattail roots and cooked them. 
 They were pretty good too." 
At least it was not an unfortunate squirrel or bird this time.

We want our boys to be capable and skilled indoors and outdoors, 
creating a good balance that will serve them for their entire lifetime.

They have practiced making fires for hours and hours, and are now accomplished.
This is a simple thing to do in the yard, with a rock or piece of wood for a base
if you don't want them burning the grass.
 The have to come up with a good natural tinder ball,
such as an old birds nest, a bunch of dried grass, small twigs, or the like
and get it going well enough to add the next layer of twigs and sticks.
 Once they can do this with matches
(no more than 3) then later with only 1,
they work at the fire making with the flint and steel.
The age we begin them learning this skill is about 6 years old.

Blessings to you this day, and to training up your little woodsmen,



  1. Oh my! That makes me wish we had become more outdoorsy while my kids were younger. Now that they are teens, it's more difficult to get them interested in much to do outside......well with us parents that is. Now let my dad (grandfather that hangs the moon) mention going camping, and every single one of his grandkids are ecstatic! Not to mention my brother and I get pretty ecstatic too. Thanks for a great post.

  2. Hi Julianne!
    I enjoyed reading about raising your boys. Very different from raising boys in the city like we did. I hope you are all recovering from the illness in your last post. I've been praying for your family. So many of those nasty germs hanging around this year.
    I'm so glad the socks are keeping your feet warm in this snowy weather. We have about 7 inches of predicted "flurries" so far today and it's still piling up out there. I can only imagine how much you have at your house.
    Blessings always my friend,

  3. Our daughter Lindsay was our best woodsman! She loves the outdoors and the others have learned a lot from her. I think I may include some of this learning into our school year for the younger ones. They haven't had as much practice as the older ones.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Oh Julianne,

    your posts make one envious.
    Living on a farm in rural South Africa, our children learn a lot of life skills too, but yours seem so much more fun...

  5. Dear Betsy,
    Yes indeed we have 14 inches of new fluffy snow! Thankfully, we have lots of firewood and the neighbor came and plowed the driveway! One of the children stole my "Betsy socks" and I had to go hunt them down. :-)

  6. Dear Huisvrou,
    I bet your children enjoy the farm there immensely. We hope to gain more animals over the years here, fencing and outbuildings first. Blessings to you and yours!

  7. Deanna,
    Isn't it easy to start out with the older children and fall behind with the younger! I do that in many areas...then have to work hard to catch up. Manners with the littles is my next project to tackle. I am thinking of Lindsay, the wedding and you...prayers for a blessed time!

  8. Dear Annon,
    Thank you for your kind words. We will be doing more Little Woodsmen posts, they boys daily activities are very fun, though obscure from most of the populace. Another foot of snow and we can defenestrate the children, a great winter pastime. :-)

  9. Love this! Something about boys and fire! Ours love any chance to start a fire. We live in the country and our home has an indoor wood burning fireplace that we use non stop from the end of October until Spring. But, it would feel like forever to our little woodsmen and so we have set up an outdoor fire pit now, too. We don't know how to start fire with flint though...maybe you could do a tutorial? :-)
    Our boys love outdoor skills and the adventure of exploring, hunting and gathering. Please, do share more of these posts...they are very affirming to us who like a little bit of a different home learning experience. Boys at our house would rather be practicing being pioneers than sitting at a school table. :-)
    Thank you for such a fun post!

  10. I almost cried after reading the list. I sure wish I knew how to do those things although I couldn't use them in a regular basis where I live. Your children are blessed to have you as parents. It sounds really fun being a woodsman (or woodswoman haha).

  11. Dear Kristin,
    thank you for the ideas (tutorial) I am always grateful for these. It sound sliek your little men are much like ours. :-) and, yes, they do much rather like active productivity rather than desk work. Today, they are chasing down an owl that has been heard near the goat has them all astir...what kind of owl? How big? big enough to carry off one of the newborn kids? Great fun! I love this aspect of teaching boys. blessings to you and yours today.

  12. Aw, Emma! It is so much fun, for the mama, too! :-) I do hope you are able to find some innovative ways to get "out there" from time to time.
    Blessings to you and your little men!


Your comments and input are very much appreciate
- Blessings!

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