I’ve been invited by Susan to write a guest post on her blog, the thing is where do I start? Susan and I became known to each other through a Facebook Group. It’s called Wild Women of the Woods and focuses on bushcraft and outdoor activities. I’m one of the primary founders. (The picture is of the mad three who started the group up). It’s been running now for over a year. And we’ve nearly 4 and a half thousand women from all over the globe following our page. It’s quite astounding that there’s a need for such a group in today’s world. The success of it has surprised me.
Bushcraft & Wilderness Skills
You may be wondering who I am. My name is Chey O’Connell (nickname Wolfie). I’m a wilderness skills instructor (and private prepper). In particular, I’ve been a practitioner of Bushcraft Skills since I was a child. But like so many of us out there I didn’t know there was a name for it. To me it was getting outside, being at one with my surroundings, making dens and supping nettle soup. The world was slightly different back then. I must only have been about 10 or 11 years old, but I always had my father’s machete (‘stolen’ from the garage) strapped around my waist. No-one batted an eyelid as I spent hours setting the foundations of where I am today.
A Student’s Life
I had followed a conventional path and enjoyed a professional occupation of psychiatric nursing, which included a ‘hiatus’ in my career of many years. However, it was time for a rethink, something along the lines of ‘What am I going to do for a job?’. The nursing profession was no longer for the likes of me, and I’d done my time. Besides, bushcraft is where my heart lay and I could hear it calling to me.
I live in Dorset, and there’s a grand house, which you can see from one of the major routes out of Dorchester. That grand house is Kingston Maurward College, which teaches land-based skills, and I’ve driven by it many times on my travels. So, one day, instead of passing it by, I dropped in and signed up for a course. Subsequently, at the ripe old age of 46, I found myself studying for a Level 3 Diploma in Countryside and Wildlife Management. Something I was able to do thanks to a government grant.
And so the next phase of my life began, I became a student, and what a steep learning curve it was! In other words, this course was the most challenging, demanding, and rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. However, after two years of hard graft, I qualified with an overall Distinction Grade, a lot more grey hairs, and stress lines on my face. But I succeeded, and now I faced finding a job role which could accommodate my new qualification. Nevermind my ever-increasing age and the limits my body was dictating to me – I was struggling.
The Meaning of Life
One day I found myself in a wood, sitting by a small fire, making a delicious pine needle tea. Utilising my bushcraft skills, I was whittling away on a branch, thinking of what to do with my life — asking myself where on earth my life skills, qualifications and interests could take me. Becoming a little disheartened with the path my intuition told me to follow. And then it struck me like a colossal thunderbolt, and the road to a career, which suited me, unfurled in my mind.
Take all those years of experience as a mental health nurse, and use them to build the foundations of a new career. Add the wealth of knowledge gained from my diploma course. Put them together with my love and passion for wilderness skills, and survival, which has been with me since childhood…can you see where this is leading? You’ve guessed it, I’ve formed my own company!
Introducing Wild Wolf Bushcraft
There’s an exciting medical service in Scotland, known as the Green Prescription. It’s widely used by GP’s, who are the primary access to those suffering from stress-related problems, physical difficulties and mental health issues. They advocate the beneficial value of outdoor access either, instead of, or in conjunction with, conventional medications. Knowing how the woods affect and heal my mind, body and soul I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this method of healing.
I’m pleased to announce, that my company, Wild Wolf Bushcraft, offers the Green Prescription option to all. Therefore, we run one to one Bushcraft Days — a Day In the Woods for group sessions and overnight camps for families, corporate and mixed groups. We also offer anything from wild food identification to green wood carving. But most of all we provide a short time of peace, tranquillity and an inner re-set.
The above has highlighted my journey, and it’s been a super adventure so far. My advice to you is to seize every opportunity and if it doesn’t work, then put it down to experience. And, of course, never lose sight of what’s ‘pulling’ you, and follow your inner intuition. I guess what I’m trying to say is, follow your heart, and focus on the journey you choose to follow. Furthermore, it’s never too late no matter how old you are, so get out there and do it!