Hello everyone, I'm very excited to tell you about a project Jeff Cameron and I have been working on recently. It's still a work in progress and we would like all of your input in the final stages.

Basically there are different statuses that each member can progress through, and they can only have one at a time. The idea is that everyone starts off as Newbies, then progress up levels as certain skills are demonstrated (by video upload, showing the group at a get together, etc). Skills could be different types of firecraft, shelter building, knife skills, etc.

There are 3 levels to climb, which have temporarily been named level 1, 2, and 3. (So original!). There is also a Administrator status.

Questions to the group:

1) What should the syllabus of skills be at each level?

2) How should members submit the "evidence"?

2) What are good names for these three levels? Something bushcraft/outdoors/nz related.

Here is how you can see the member categories under the Members tab:

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I would like to echo the NZ flavoured names for levels, ie tenderfoot and other americanisms should be avoided.


I think each level should cover the main skills as minimum and each level build those skills.

Level one could be #Fire lighting: Lighting a fire with easily sourced tinder like paper or a little lucifer using a bic lighter in dry conditions, and at the extreme end, lighting a fire with only natural tinder, in the wet with a bow drill made with natural cordage.

I personally think the skills need to be "real" with an actual pass/fail standard, ie you don't get the badge just for participating like the wheetbix triathalon.

The beginner level should be fairly easy for someone with practical skills who has a basic level of outdoor knowledge and maybe a bit  of a stretch for someone with no knowledge at all.

The extreme, or pinnicle level should encompass all the skills to survive a life and death situation in your country of origin, like here in NZ a first aid situation after a plane crash, getting out of extremely cold/wet conditions, staying warm and getting out. Someone in Alaska would have to include surviving wild carnivorous animals.


I think a youtube video of evidence would be good if distance is an issue, live demos to a group would be great.

I learnt heaps on Basic training in group settings, judged individually after being shown.



This is a group of very knowlegeable people who I am sure will come up with great ideas.


P.S. Love the newbie icon on my picture, really motivates me to get at least a level one icon asap or sooner



Excellent Idea! Is it possible to split the levels into the primary "needs"? eg:

Level 1, Shelter -  build a basic shelter with the aid of a tool and "some" man made material eg: Knife and cordage. 

Level 1, Fire. - being able to initiate and maintain a fire for basic cooking and warmth needs (with a tool eg: lighter).

Level 1, Food sourcing. - identifying their local edible flora and some basic trap making skills.

Etc, then moving to "Level 2" of each skillset (more advanced shelter - friction fire skills etc).

Maybe after completing the 3 levels of difficulty in each skillset, the individual can choose to specialise in a different field to earn the title of "Tohunga"?

Individuals that are highly skilled in all areas could earn the "Kaumātua" badge to recognise the importance of the knowledge they hold...

Just my two cents. 

Hi Jamie thanks for joining in. I originally thought of having split levels like you describe, and badges that you earn like boy scouts. I went with the sigle badge for a few reasons:

  1. Simplicity. I member can be in one category as a time, which then can be shown on their picture. Becasue their picture is next to every post/comment/item, you can see their status right away.
  2. Having level one in a variety of skills promotes a well rounded learning process, and solves the question I get constantly ask by people new to bushcraft....what skills should I learn, in what order, etc.

I've changed terminology from badges to status. Badges kind of implies collecting them, status implies levels you progress through.

I really like your idea of food sourcing though! Add that to the list. One item on the Level 1 list can be a short video on the uses for manuka for example.

I'm torn on the maori names. I have maori ancestry and so I am a fan, and I know what kaumatua and tohunga means. I'm biased tho so would like to hear others opinions on this. Tohunga could be the level 3, any ideas on level 1 and 2?

Thanks for the opportunity to have a say.  Bushcraft for me has always been a pipeline dream.  The desire is there but there is too much to do and not enough time scenario always sees to exist.  Therefore i like any initiative that would help promote bushcraft skills through obtainable goals.

Personally the hierarchical status approach unfortunately doesn't do it for me.  For example i would like to be able to make a fire using a bow and drill and natural cordage, so whats important to me is that I can find someone/or a course who can do that. The fact that its a level 3 is neither here nor there for me.  Do people have to do levels 1 and 2 before level 3 for example?  Will the levels allow knowledge to be obtained more easily from other members i.e. mentoring/courses?

Ray Mears Fundamental Bushcraft course has the following. I personally would like to know if the levels/skills can relate to his courses somehow:

  • Firelighting, including by friction
  • Shelter Construction
  • Water Collection & Purification
  • Plants For food & medicine
  • Natural Cordage
  • Hunting & Trapping
  • Wilderness Fishing Techniques
  • Safe use of Cutting Tools
  • Looking after the land and leaving no trace
  • Backcountry Hygiene
  • Outdoor Safety
  • Natural Navigation

Anyway, sorry if what i say doesnt make sense, ultimately I definitely support what you are doing because it sounds very positive.

Great Feedback, Andrew.

I would propose that there be a few core subjects that relate to the level system.

I reckon things that relate to survival in the bush should be the priority.

M40.com is my personal favourite as he cuts through the BS, his rule of 3s is bang on in my book

You can die in 3 minutes if bleeding badly, three hours from extreme cold, 3 days without water and three weeks without food

  • First aid
  • shelter
  • firelighting
  • finding/making safe water.

This can be supplimented with elective activities that appeal to the individual, like making cordage, maybe for the fire drill bow, or some other skill that is concidered bushcraft whether survivial or not.

start off with the easier skills then build on them.


Great idea !

I really like this idea, I think it would really motivate people to learn different skills. Unfortunately, I don't have access to a video camera, so I can't make any videos. What about pictures? If you can't make a video, you could use pictures, and write what you did. 


Here is my view...

BCUSA runs something similar with the Bushclass sub forum they run. Basically there are criteria for a couple of awards.

You submit either photographic or video evidence of you completing the skill. Once you complete all the criteria for say the basic award you earn the right to have Bushclass basic for example. There is no requirement to state you have it nor buy the patch etc.

This seems in principal similar to what your proposing but you want to link these achievements with a status on your BCNZ membership. I'm not sure I've seen that on any other Bushcraft Forum.. Not that its a bad idea per se.

Let's look at an example for say a basic level 1 award syllabus.

Fire lighting using man made methods
Knife sharpening at home / base camp
Prepare feather sticks
Construct a PSK
Etc etc...

Are you intending on setting a standard for each of these skills for people to meet for the basic / level 1 award..??.Or would any photo or video evidence suffice that says you attempted the skill but might not have gotten it correct?

Say Ryan submitted a beautiful feather stick and then I submitted a really bad one. Would I meet the criteria? Who is going to be making the 'call' on that?

I think we need to decide the structure of how the awards are going to be administered and moderated as much as what they end up being called and the content of each level.



I am a genuine newbie and would be very interested to see what comes through this discussion/forum.

Hi... While the idea is good on the surface, I do not like the idea of membership or badge levels for many reasons.

* NZMSC and NZOIA already has bushcraft courses and levels

* Video submissions mean absolutely nothing. They can be set up, edited, and not an accurate measure of skill. Like going out with a Polytechnic group and trying to count that as bush trips.

* My personal enjoyment of the site has been the lack of formal member requirements, (e.g. membership levels or criteria.)

* Would there be a cross credit for prior learning and proof (e.g. NZQA Unit Standards, NZOIA, NZMSC etc, and possibly NZLSAR) without having to submit video proof?

* Who will moderate the skill level?

* Will having a membership level have any real meaning? I do not think so!

* It could be dangerous if someone has been given a rating who doesn't deserve it and uses the rating level for something like a Scout or School Group. Who would be liable? Something to think about.

I do like the idea of submitting video's to teach skills though. These could be uploaded to somewhere like YouTube and a link provided if those suggesting it are serious in their wish to do this.

I do not think that edible food gathering (including trap making) is a level one bushcraft skill as they are not essential to surviving in the bush. There are much more important issues like reading a map, knowing where you are (with and without a map), navigation - with and without a compass, reading a weather forecast and making your own prediction, river safety, campcraft, knowing access rights, Correct food to take, clothing types and use, route finding, communications, filling out back country help forms (intent forms), what to do in an emergency, risk management, suitable footwear, packing a pack, finding drinkable water, fire craft for cooking, knowing the Environmental Code, when to call it off or go back, looking after your mates and them watching out for you, firearm safety (even if you do not own one). The list goes on and I think all are important.

I do not mean to put a dampener on the idea of levels but think it could be inherently dangerous to those running the site if something happened and the site was involved in any reasons or excuses after the fact, combined with there already is a Bushcraft course and levels offered in NZ for those serious about gaining recognition for their skills.

If the levels do go ahead I agree that NZ names would be better than americaisms or similar. 

Hey, My opinion only and I am open to persuasion.

I had problems with my computer until it had a catastrophic failure last year and I lost everything. It wasn't until getting some emails from submitters that I found my way back here.

Perhaps an option to receive Monthly newsletter, reminders, or site updates could be emailed so members do not fall off the site? :-)

Also, I may be considered a newbie as far as the site goes but there is no way I consider myself to be a newbie in the outdoors. Therefore I think the level indicator on my icon insulting. I should perhaps been given the option to show a rating or not.

John I think you raise some good points but I think the intent is to have an 'award system' that relates to BCNZ only not the real world.

I believe the intent is the proposed system does a couple of things.

1. Provides an avenue for folk to showcase and learn about skills on an internet forum. This is pretty typical as forums are social media at the end of the day and its just another method for interaction.

2. Gives those that are inclined the ability to follow the forum based syllabus in their own time and perhaps pick up some new skills on the way...

If someone was turning up to a scout group and saying they were skilled to lead a trip because they had BCNZ level 4 bushcraft Skills I think I'd personally be pretty concerned.

Take a look at the BCUSA Bushclass it's in a similar vein to what is seemingly proposed here.  The skills required for the award are more aimed at camp craft skills etc rather than wilderness travel and safety skills.



Hi John, Thanks for your reply.

I think the 2 points you raise can already be done without an award system. NZ Mountain Safety Council have structured courses for those who are wanting training. I do not think that videos are the way to learn skills. Yes they help or give ideas to those with a skills already but not for the novice.

As for someone saying they are qualified has already happened a few years ago, with one person on the East Coast taking tourists and school groups into the bush quoting false credentials. I also know of parents claiming skills and assisting with school groups who have not been properly qualified. So It can and does happen, and yes there were many people concerned once the details of the examples given came out, and other than a smack on the hand nothing seems to happen to the offenders.


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