Survival of the Fittest : The Global Bushcraft Symposium

In an event that will be difficult to repeat, the global bushcraft education community will convene June 10-14 in Southern Alberta, Canada.

The Global Bushcraft Symposium may sound like a rather grand title, but it is accurate, given this truly international event happens so infrequently on such a grand scale.

Sadly, this international gathering of the bushcraft community is far from what one might consider a regular affair, even in the bushcraft circle of meetings, which occur annually throughout Europe and North America.

In fact, the last time a gathering of this magnitude took place was back in 1995 when the Swedish Army invited instructors from around the world to unify instructional skills, and engage in deliberation about the pedagogy and styles of survival training.

This meeting had an even grander title of, “The First International Survival Instructors Symposium.” Several great masters in the world of survival were in attendance, including Mors Kochanski, Lars Fält, and Ray Mears to name a few.

The Global Bushcraft Symposium (GBS) of 2019, set for June 10 -14, is endeavoring to repeat the goals set forth at the Symposium in 1995.

This June, the GBS is hosting wide range of prestigious instructors from around the world.

Two grandfathers within the world of bushcraft, and survival, are returning for the second time: Mors Kochanski from Canada, and Lars Fält from Sweden. Other bushcraft celebrities attending include Dave Wescott; David Holladay; Tom Lutyens; and Cody Lundin, as well as Les Stroud.

He’s also the only producer in television, in the history of television, to work alone, including writing, hosting and taping. He even writes the theme music for his own shows, and that’s just the tip of this musical iceberg. Famed for his harmonica playing, Stroud has shared the stage with Slash, Journey, Alice Cooper, Steven Stills, Blues Traveler, Tesla, Jakob Dylan, Chicago, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Roots, among many others. Two of his books —Survive! Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere Alive! (Harper Collins) and Will to Live — made the New York Times bestseller list.

Although Stroud may be best known as the star of the TV series Survivorman (OLNCanada, The Science Channel US, Discovery Channel International), Les Stroud is far more than a bushcraft expert and TV host — he’s generally credited with inventing the “survival TV” genre.

The Symposium is open to everyone who is interested in Bushcraft and Survival or other outdoor enthusiasts wanting to gain more skills. The symposium will benefit hikers, hunters, anglers, canoeists, climbers and anyone who ventures off the beaten path.

A series of camps have been arranged where visitors can learn about outdoor skills such as Wilderness First Aid, plant medicine, swift water rescue, fire lighting, axe craft, horse packing, shelter craft, outdoor cooking, and search & rescue.

Presentations and workshops reflect on the theme of the event where instructional pedagogy, instruction styles, and historical context will be reviewed. These presentations will also be of great benefit to any present or future instructors who teach outdoor skills.

Some of the tenants of this highly anticipated international conference include:

  • Gathering to promote bushcraft, survival, and traditional skills instruction through the open exchange of philosophies, pedagogical methods and dissemination of best practices within the industry.
  • Developing connections across the generations of instructors, and cultures of practice.
  • Emphasizing the critical importance of teaching accurate, fact based and tested skills in their proper context.
  • Honoring those who have lived, rediscovered and promoted the traditions before us.
  • In addition to the irregularity of these types of large-scale gatherings, many of the attending instructors are close to retiring, making attendance at this event even more important. And unlike the rock group the “Rolling Stones” (who go on and on and on) these instructors may not be around for a whole lot more future events.

If you are interested in attending this event in June in Southern Alberta, Canada, check out the website at here.

By Dave Holder

Author Dave Holder is an Outdoor skills instructor, Wilderness guide, and TV Survival consultant who lives in the Canadian Rockies. He will also be a presenter at the GBS.