How the Booklets Came into Being

Mors Kochanski

I am particularly attracted to booklets containing concise knowledge that are easily carried in a shirt pocket. I recall making booklets in elementary school mostly based on Ellsworth Jaeger’s book “Wildwood Wisdom”. The first time I brought out such a booklet was at a Junior Forest Wardens national conference in Oyama, BC. There was a competitive rivalry between the Alberta and BC clubs to do something unique and the first booklet had its inauguration. The objective I had in mind was to produce booklets that would be useful to the outdoor education programs in our elementary and high schools and to supplement the information in my own workshops. School-aged children did not seem to have much respect for loose leaf handouts which I often saw being blown about in the wind at some conferences. With the booklets, the first person coming across it would pick it up as a keepsake.

The booklets came into being after “Northern Bushcraft” was published. I found myself giving away copies of the big book rather readily. When I began producing the booklets that sold at a dollar when “Bushcraft” sold at $10.00, I saved a lot of money every time I was inclined to give something away. Those early booklets were made by folding a 11 1/2 by 17 sheet of paper to 2 1/2 by 3 3/4 sized booklet after trimming to give 32 pages. I farmed out the photocopying and I did the folding, stapling and trimming myself. The 32 pages could carry a reasonable amount of information if the text was made small enough. Some complained the text was difficult to read. The booklets sold well but assembling them was quite tedious.

When the opportunity to commercialize the booklet through Karamat Wilderness Ways came, the larger, more legible format was adopted, and the 32 page size retained, as this is enough to do justice to any topic without straining the attention span to severely.

Ideally, no matter where the booklet is opened there should be a diagram. So far, many of the booklets are survival training manuals and only one is a memory-aid field manual meant to be packed in a survival kit.

The booklets and “Bushcraft”: In fairness to Lone Pine, publisher of “Bushcraft”, in trying to avoid auto-plagiarism and to its readers who could end up paying twice for the same information, “Bushcraft” and the booklets are meant to be independent of each other. In 1987 Lone Pine’s owner Grant Kennedy specifically requested to avoid the use of the term Survival so it was not defined in “Bushcraft”. When Grant Kennedy passed on, the new generation at Lone Pine chose to drop “Northern” from the title and added survival without confering with me. Although about a quarter of “Bushcraft” would be applicable in a survival situation, it was written with everyday living in the pioneering sense in mind. As the author of both “Bushcraft” and the booklets I would say that it supplements the booklets with respect to survival and not the other way around. This is not a big issue but as more booklets on survival are produced this may become more clear.

My writing is specific to the environment with which I am most familiar, primarily the Boreal Wilderness, the winter cold, snow and mosquitoes, where copious firewood for open fires is available.