We all plan on surviving this grand adventure of ours, so there are a few things we all agree we must do (a rarity some days, I promise you). High on that list is of course canoeing but many others all fall under the purview of general wilderness skills. We need to know how to build fires, protect ourselves and our gear from the elements, insects and animals. We'll have to be able to orient ourselves and have the ability to get ourselves out of trouble if we need to.
All these things add up pretty quick and I for one was feeling a bit concerned that we'd be able to learn everything we needed to, in the time that we have - without breaking the bank. Our solution came to us all at once through our wonderful support network, telling us about this great little company of outdoorsmen teaching wilderness skills.
The fantastic guys at Borealis Bushcraft will be working with us over the next year to help us make sure we know what to do in the case of an emergency, as well as how to make our six months of outdoor living run just a little bit smoother. We'll be going over scenarios, such as what to do if one of us gets "accidentally" tossed overboard and has to fend for herself (with only the gear on her person) until morning, and going over all the necessary skills along the way.
Our first lesson was a day trip to a city park where we strung up tarps and went over some essential, basic knots (overhand, figure eight, slippery hitch... real beginner stuff for now). We had a variety of differently shaped and sized tarps, so we had several different configurations by the end. We had a couple lean-to styles, one which touched the ground and one that didn't, a couple diamond shapes (which is what happens when you try and fold a rectangular tarp in half diagonally) and even a plough shape done by Roland, one of our new mentors.
After a lunch where Jon and Roland worked as a team to make themselves a hot meal over a fire and passed around bags of knives for our perusal, we started working on fire-starting. We had mixed results, but we're on our way to being able to recognize good tinder and being able to use fire steels. We're not there yet, but if we follow Jon's advice we'll get better (and my inner five-year-old can feel the thrill of rebellion):