Originally posted (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 self made 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 (2-3 cm diameter) which they had to truncate to arm’s length and take off the little side branches and the bark. (Bark can be scraped off with back of the knife).
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 for your own try stick project.