Originally published (in Dutch) on the Dutch Bushcraft Forum on October 13, 2012.
Today I gave three woodcutting workshops to about 40 scouts of Scouting Petrus Donders in Sint-Michielsgestel (The Netherlands). The scouts were between 11 and 15 years old and the workshops were about 90 minutes each. I thought it would be fun to make a simple version of a Mors Kochanksi “Try Stick” with the children. (Mors Kochanski is a Canadian survival instructor who designed a Try Stick for practicing your knife skills). I created a stick with 10 cuts from easy to more difficult (see picture below).
After introducing myself, I started the workshop with some information about the knife (all kids got a new Hultafors knife from the camp leaders) and safe cutting techniques. Then I showed the kids some selfmade practical wooden tools that were made using the different cuts (a Burtonsville cooking rig, a bow drill set, a figure-4 trap and a Roycraft packframe). Then every kid got a green willow branch which they had to truncate to arm’s length and take off the little side branches and the bark.
After some final cutting tips (like the stop-cut and the use of a small baton) we used the last 60 minutes to make the Try Stick. The kids really liked the workshop but I noticed that the youngest/smallest children sometimes lacked the strength in their hands and arms to make proper cuts. Some of the older children created good-looking sticks.
In the end 10 cuts in one hour turned out a bit too much. Most kids managed 5 cuts. Fortunately we had no accidents besides two mini-cuts in one child’s hand. All in all a fun day despite some rain showers (it was all outdoors). Feel free to use my picture if you also want to give a workshop like this.