The philosophy of the Foresters is one of harmony with the natural world as much as is possible in the modern world. We are not back to the landers’, vegetarians, tree huggers, or hippies seeking a 60’s style communal life, but are instead a group of normal everyday people with an interest in nature and experiencing it both as modern people escaping a modern world, and through reenacting the medieval past in nature, and as part of the SCA. This ideal natural harmony can never be fully realized nor do we seek to fulfill it totally. Modern plumbing and sanitation are by far preferable to the natural alternative given that humans tend to form social groups. A 3 day camping trip with a few friends will teach you the value of flush toilets in a hurry.
As a group we practice no trace camping ethics but we also seek to do so using traditional or ancient skills whenever possible. Cooking over a fire for the majority of our meals instead of reliance on modern stoves and equipment for one thing has been a great source of enjoyment and pride for our members. It must be said, this is much more work and takes much more time.
Giant Turkey spit roasted Sept 2014
Of course as we are still inhabitants of the 21st century, in our reenactment there is some modern necessity that limits our historical accuracy, but our philosophy is to try as hard as we can to recreate the past in an outdoor environment. This, it must be reiterated is hard work and so the foresters philosophy is not for everyone.
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger…” Friedrich Nietzsche.
The core philosophy that all Foresters must accept is the struggle to overcome adversity. Adversity comes in many forms and so why would any sane person seek it out? It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves and this is true when factors beyond your control place you in an uncomfortable situation. How you react or overcome the situation says a great deal. Some cannot deal with adversity in any way and become emotional and attack others. Some just pack it in and go home and escape to a different reality. Yet other persevere and learn from adversity and acquire new skills, new plans, or new ideas that help overcome the same challenge in the future.
As a Forester you may learn some important fundamental truths that many people cannot come to grips with. They may sound simple but it is amazing how many people have a melt down when faced with life in the outdoors.
When it rains you will be wet. When it stops, you will dry out.
It is a pretty simple concept but many people are exclusively used to an indoor climate controlled life. I have seen people ill prepared and ill equipped surprised and as angry as wet hens when it rains. I have seen tents fill with water, people break down into tears, and the honeymoon couple become like the Hatfields and McCoys all over a little rain. Skill and knowledge can alleviate most of the issues that come from adverse weather. Knowledge about what gear works and what does not, and skill at how to use gear effectively helps greatly too. Picking your campsite and using the land for shelter are key but hardening your attitude to weather is also part of the equation and the one that most people have difficulty with.
Weather affects cooking times
This is one of the lesser adversities in my opinion, but I have still seen people have a melt down if they are not fed at 5pm sharp. There are no take out restaurants in the woods, and it is often unavailable at SCA camping events too, so many people are smart and bring a few treats to boost morale if wind or rain makes cooking outdoors difficult. I have been on wilderness trips where cooking times vary greatly from one day to the next due to wind or rain and the turkey shown above went well past the planned cooking time due to high wind. Eventually the meal will be done and that’s about all that can be said. For those that still cannot deal with it, throw them a chocolate bar.
People are unpredictable
Perhaps the most difficult thing to deal with on a trip or camping expedition is the human factor. Any time the number in the group exceeds six people there are always those inclined to let others do all the work. There will always be those inclined to be unhappy with something be it the conditions, the food, or the toilet facilities. There will always be one person who feels they are more entitled than everyone else and deserves special treatment or extra attention. There is not much you can do with people except lead by example, taking the high road whenever possible. The foresters philosophy does not suffer drama queens; it is too much work to be a member. People are not inclined to join a group has high expectations of them for the wrong reasons. Our members want to be members.
Adversity builds character
As foolish as it sounds it is true. Nothing great is ever easy; if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. The reason why the foresters try to do things the hard way is often because it teaches us something. More often than not what we learn is that the hard way can be done the smart way and so is not really all that hard after all; that is the goal of the foresters. We seek to face adversity and find the smart way to solve problems. This leads to self reliance, confidence and leadership potential. We are not a cult of personality centered around a person or group but are instead training leaders in the SCA to carry the Society forward. Those who would lead should first serve, but those who will lead best are forged in the fires of adversity. The Forester members attempt to embody this philosophy.
If you believe in the Foresters philosophy perhaps you have what it takes to be a member. If you want to learn how to embrace a life of self reliance and develop the knowledge and skills that forge confidence then perhaps you may have what it takes to be a member.