My journey at Sacred Earth

I first came to Sacred Earth on a school camp to learn about outdoor survival skills and nature connection. This immersive experience, run by a vibrant mix of people, was a huge eye opener for me. I’d never met adult mentors who were so inspirational, full of life and excited to be out in nature. I instantly knew that I’d found something good.

Desperate to return to the land and the people I’d met there, I signed up for the Earth Steward Apprenticeship. ESA is a longer course that’s designed to help teenagers develop their connection with nature, each other and themselves, as well as outdoor survival skills. These include:

  • learning how to light fires using materials predominantly found in the landscape
  • shelter building
  • foraging
  • sourcing and purifying water.

More than outdoor survival skills

As well as these core outdoor survival skills, ESA also offers other fun, beneficial and truly educational activities, including:

  • tracking animals
  • crafting
  • sensory meditations
  • flint knapping
  • archery
  • nature games
  • sit spots.

Sit spots are a time each day dedicated to sitting quietly and purposefully in nature, to deepen your connection with the land and yourself. They can be immensely powerful, especially if done on a regular basis, and enable you to really notice the wildlife and plants around you. Not only will it enable you to disappear into the landscape and become a part of nature, it can also act as a valuable tool in helping you emotionally.

The power of fire making

Fire making became a skill that I really value. On the physical level I found it be to essential for survival (especially in this climate) but on a deeper level it became a gateway for deep connection to the landscape around me.

I had never made a fire outdoors before, but after my introductory lesson during the class nine school camp, I was hooked. Rather than using matches, we were introduced to the world of fire by friction. We often used tools like the bow-drill and hand-drill, as well as the more common flint and steel or steel and striker. I found these techniques – especially the drills – to be immensely powerful ways of connecting with the land, myself, people around me and with my ancestors: people who, far back enough, would have been expert fire-makers and would have relied heavily on it for myriad aspects of their lives.

A non-judgemental, welcoming and safe environment

As I mentioned earlier, the course isn’t solely based on outdoor survival skills. I also developed many new friendships with like-minded and truly kind people of varying ages. The ever non-judgmental, all-welcoming and safe environment that Sacred Earth offers was a catalyst for my own self-expression, growth and happiness. For the first time I felt that I truly belonged, and I was finally able to discover some of the answers to my questions about who I am.

The final quest

At the end of each year students go on a quest. This sounds epic, because it is. This can take many forms but with ESA it is usually either a group survival quest, a solo survival quest or a nature/vision quest. The first two are experiences designed, and safely contained, to test what the student has learned. A student’s first quest will never be done alone.

For example, mine was a three-day, two-night group survival experience where I went out on to the land with my year group. We had nothing but a knife each, some water and a bow drill kit. This experience was monumental for me, not only regarding my journey with ESA but also my life – especially as a teen. The following year I did a solo survival quest, which was an even more powerful experience. In my final year as an ESA student, I did an overnight vision quest.

A year later I am frequently back at Sacred Earth, stepping into the beginnings of my journey as a mentor and instructor, watching a new generation of ESA students grow and develop, as I did, into their fullest potential as connected human beings.

Poppy Lewis Brown head and shoulders

By Poppy Lewis Brown

Book a place on the Earth Steward Apprenticeship here.