Dawn… somewhere in rural England

Free Range Themes:

The Great Outdoors

‘The Great Outdoors’ is the Free Range Network's practical guide to camping outdoors – going beyond the everyday kind of camping guide to look specifically at light-weight, low-impact wild camping.

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How do you learn to be happy with ‘less
in an affluent world?

This was the question the Free Range Network asked itself back in 2006. At the time there was a call for assistance to help people live with ‘less’ – as a means to adapt to coming crises such as peak oil and climate change. The solution was something very simple, and one that we all had a deep experience of; take people camping.

This we know: camping can heal. The developing study of ecopsychology can give us some insight as to why.

When the Free Range Network first developed ‘The Great Outdoors’ project during 2006 and 2007 we were not fully aware of this – except, perhaps, at a personal level. Instead the aim was to help people learn the skills of energy descent in a simple, cheap and (hopefully) fun way.

In 2011 the project was discontinued. Against the enforced austerity following the financial crash people, it seemed, didn’t want to go away for weekends to learn how to live with less…
They could do that at home for free!

Now, in 2019, we’re resurrecting the project precisely because the evidence of its potential benefits is far greater; and in these testing, troublesome times, there is a more pressing need for this kind of activity to address people's uncertainty about the future.

What the recent research in ecopsychology tells us is that being outdoors, apart from teaching us the skills of resilience, can heal us physically and mentally. We still need the skills of energy descent, just as much as a decade ago; but perhaps we need the healing virtues of being outdoors more during these troublesome times.

“Yes! Pressure cookers work on camp fires!”
A ‘Great Outdoors’ weekend camping workshop, Wales, 2008

‘Wild Camping’

Much of what we did with ‘The Great Outdoors’ a decade ago is still valid. What we need to do is broaden its scope. For that reason are building a larger project around it, ‘Wild Camping’.

‘Wild Camping’ will focus on the use of camping as a means to learn low impact lifestyles as before, and it will focus on what we know of the wider benefits as a result of ecopsychology research. It will also focus on the politics of the land rights and the ecological crisis, and it will have a greater focus on D-I-Y culture and building the components required for a more low-impact lifestyle – for example, The Stick Fire Cooking Grate.

As before, the project will build over the next few years through events, camping weekends, and on-line publications. The change in technology over the last decade also means that video is now a far simpler means of communication too.

As new material becomes available it will be listed on the ‘Wild Camping’ Theme page. As we organise events, or produce videos and publications, we'll put out wider publicity for them.

The original handouts are still usable, but some point they will be re-written to reflect our new work. For now though, in combination with more general information on camping, you could use them to quickly realise one of the core objectives of the new project:
Turn off; walk off; camp out!