Monday, 22 February 2010

Primitive Camping, what I think it is and is not.

I looked up Primitive Camping the other day and was amazed at some people’s definitions of “primitive”. Primitive camping for some means not using a modern vehicle to get to the camp site. So I suppose that if one is used to camping in a motor home or caravan, camping in a tent is considered primitive!
So before talking about primitive camping, one must first define what primitive means to you, or in this case what it means to me!
Below is the definition of primitive that can be found in most dictionaries, and I would not argue with that, it seems very fair, and certainly does not mean camping in a nylon tent using a sleeping bag, gas stove, aluminium cookware and freeze dried foods!
primitive definition
primi•tive (prim′i tiv)
1. of or existing in the beginning or the earliest times or ages; ancient; original
a. characteristic or imitative of the earliest ages
b. crude, simple, rough, uncivilized, etc.
3. not derivative; primary; basic
4. ANTHROP. of or having to do with a preliterate, generally isolated, culture with a relatively low level of technology
Primitive Camping to me means pre 1840.
Primitive Skills to me means skills that were first used in pre history.
Any other skills I refer to by date, as in 18th century living skills.
So primitive camping to me means using pre 1840 clothing and equipment, in my particular case I use pre 1760 clothing and equipment and I practice primitive skills and 18th century living skills.
Camping for me started in the 50s. In those days it was cotton canvas tents, open fires, bush poles for fishing, a good sheath knife and a clasp knife, and of course the belt axe. Cooking was sticking some meat on the end of a stick and holding it over the fire.

But as I moved into the 60s, camping got more sophisticated, and this modern equipment that I first thought was fun, slowly took all the fun out of camping for me. For me camping was the thought of camping out like Daniel Boone and other woodsmen of his period and earlier. Digging a small fire pit and cooking over a wood fire was a big part of the attraction. Carrying a sheath knife and a belt axe was compulsory. It was all a part of learning how to be self-reliant.

Putting up a tent or shelter using an oil cloth took some skill, as did making fire, making a bow and arrows, learning to fish with just hook and line. Making a wooden pot hook with a pocket knife and learning how to make snares and snare rabbits. All this the children of today miss out on. Now it is all made for them and little skill is required to set up the modern camp.

So this short article is to try and encourage people to try historical trekking, or primitive camping, it really does put the fun back into camping. If you have kids then for me this is the only way to camp. The skills my three boys learnt have never been forgotten, nor the times we spent together.

First time camper being taught to throw the tomahawk.
Time spent together.
There is much to learn.

A young woodsrunner.
Waiting for that billy to boil.



The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Thought provoking as ever

Le Loup said...

Thank you, we do try.
Le Loup.

Murphyfish said...

Le Loup,
An excellent post my friend (although I’m not surprised), made me reconsider on what I classed as primitive camping and I realise that it wasn’t primitive at all! There are some skills that I would really like to learn on my journey to being more of a piece of the outdoors, hopefully giving me more of a feel from whence I came. Thank you for sharing.

Le Loup said...

My pleasure John, and if I can be of any help with those skills you want to learn, let me know.
Regards, Le Loup.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi LL. I have mentioned this post in my Express column for Wednesday 3 March.

Le Loup said...

Very much appreciated Jim, thank you.
Le Loup.

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

This blog and its contents are completely new to me and fascinating. As you already know, I have come here via Jim and I am glad that I did. Thanks for stopping by at my blog. I intend visiting your blog regularly. Do not hesitate to shout if there is anything that I can do for you in India.

Le Loup said...

Hi Ramana. I very much appreciate your comments and your kind offer.
Thank you.
Regards, Le Loup.

Stay golden said...

We've camped in all national and dozens of state Parks in the US and they define it simply, "no amenities". Most are hike in and none have toilets or water. I like the idea of a lean to and using real survivor skills. I like packing in as little as possible. Next time we'll dress up :)

Le Loup said...

Stay Golden. I tried to post on your blog, but the directions appear to be out of whack.
Take a look at my "making camp" video here:

Aythe1 said...

Used to do this when i was young, miss it! Does anybody know if this still exists?

Keith H. Burgess said...

Oh yes, very much so Aythe. It is called Historical Trekking, & is popular through Europe, UK, America & Australia.
Visit our forum & join if you wish.

Regards, Keith.