10 days “Living on the Frontier” in Sweden. Although the era of “The Frontier” occupies a relatively short period of history, the spirit of the time has left a lasting legacy. The 1800s were an incredible time of exploration, mass migration and settlement. It’s the time of the great gold rush, mountain men and fur hunters. There was not only an abundance of ancestral and indigenous knowledge that was traded and passed on. But there were also new skills and skills that evolved. Which made camp life more comfortable and enjoyable. During this time, thousands of men, women and children left their homes and cities in search of a new life, country and adventure.
This makes it both an immersive and unforgettable period. It is easy to conjure up images of pioneers on the wagon path, who travel immeasurable distances. In search of gold, land, freedom and a better life. But we rarely think about how these pioneers managed to start a new life in the wilderness of an unknown country. It must have been a daunting, exciting, creative, unpredictable and incredibly resourceful period. This bold and unique moment in time, between pioneering and settlements, is where “Living on the Frontier” takes you.
At the Frontier, all the skills, innovations, ingenuity and handicraft skills of individual men and women came to the fore. In their attempt to settle and survive, they lived in tents, tried to build huts, prepare land, cut wood, dig wells for water,… All with just the tools they brought and the skills they possessed. This period took camp skills to a new level. The pioneers lived in semi-permanent camps that testified to remarkable ingenuity.
10 Days Living on the Frontier takes you back to this unique time. You will experience, build and live in a frontier camp with only traditional hand tools, such as:
- Axes (felling and forest)
- Pull saws
- Knife and grinding stone
- Arc saw
- Hand drill
With these traditional tools you will learn to make logs, planks, boxes, pegs, ladles, tents and more… From wax racks to smoke racks. From pig’s spit to beds and from canvas tents to wannigans. You’re going to do it all. And besides, to stay in the spirit of time, you will also live, eat and sleep as if you were back in frontier time. Traditional flour, bacon and bean meals, cooked in iron pots above campfires. You go to sleep in a blanket, brew cowboy coffee, horsehair to fish lines. But also preserving meat, roasting on the spit and preserving berries are all part of your daily tasks and experiences of Living on the Frontier.
You build, learn and make
- Axe skills and techniques
- Sawing boards and working large pieces of wood
- Bringing down trees in a controlled and safe way
- A variety of pot hangers
- Structures for smoke racks or hides
- Saw buck (logs are placed on a saw buck to prevent them from rolling when sawn)
- Tent poles and poles
- A kitchen frame with spit
- Parfleche (made of rawhide, used to carry food or clothing and valuables.)
- Fishing gear and hooks of horsehair and bone
- Lights: torches, kidney grease lamps
- A basic raft or coracle with paddles
- Rear rest chair/stool
- Long wood fire/reflectors
- Blanket, sleeping techniques and bed rolls
- Blanket cap or jacket
- Drying curing of meat/berries/pemmican
- Cooking with cast iron
- Making fire with flint
- Rawhide messchede
- Setting up and building a shelter/tent
A free wool blanket is included in the course. You will learn the blanket stitch to restore your blanket in traditional style. You use this blanket to sit around the fire or sleep in at night. It will be a wonderful memento and useful companion for future camping and adventure trips.
Instructors at Living on the Frontier
The course is led by Steven Le Say and Thijmen Apswoude. Steven is an expert in frontier crafts and an inventive teacher of primitive skills and bushcraft. He is based in Sussex, England. Steve founded Axe and Paddle Bushcraft in 2012, and teaches a wide range of primitive and frontier skills, such as paddling, moccasins, fur tanning and much more.
We will camp in one of the most beautiful and wildest locations that Living by Nature has access to. There are pine and spruce forests as far as the eye can see and if you are early you may be lucky and you will see beavers leaving their mark along the banks of the meandering river. Fish abounds in the river. There are also moose, which you can often hear pushing and sanding at night. You’ll definitely see their tracks in the morning around our camp. This beautiful, secluded wilderness offers numerous opportunities for foraging, exploring, fishing, hiking, wildlife spotting, wild swimming and dreaming under the stars. In this beautiful nature becomes part of your daily routine, as at the time of ‘the frontier’.
We advise our students to bring a pair of comfortable, strong but soft leather gloves, as you will do quite a bit of axe, sawing and woodwork on most days.