Kevin Callan
Credit: Kevin Callan

I spent the weekend with a bunch of bushcrafters in the frozen foothills of Alberta. That was interesting.

On the flight there, I was a tad hesitant about the event; questioning why they would ask me to be the keynote speaker at the Frostbite Winter Camping Symposium.

After all, I'm "The Happy Camper.” I'm more into thriving in the wilderness, rather than surviving in it.

My perception of the group was way off. I figured I’d be hanging out with a bunch of doomsday, zombie-apocalyptic campers. By the end of the weekend, however, I came to realize there’s a huge difference between survivalists and bushcrafters.

The leaders (all volunteers) were top-notch and gave an assortment of amazing workshops, from basket-weaving to building your own freight toboggan. The participants were a mixed bag of middle-agers, families, teens and millennials.

It was an amazing event.

There’s definitely a difference between the two disciplines. Wilderness survival is about skills and mental preparedness for dealing with unexpected and adverse circumstances that became life-threatening while outdoors. It’s usually a relatively short period, waiting out your time before being rescued. Bushcraft is more about embracing the wilderness, learning traditional skills, and living in it—usually for long periods of time.

The two obviously overlap at times. Generally speaking, however, a survival enthusiast  eventually evolves into a bushcrafter.

Make sure to check out the endless list of workshops at this year’s event, and mark your  calendar for next year. You won’t be disappointed.

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