Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ernest Thompson Seton and The Origins of "Woodcraft"

People often ask about the origin of camp's name. "Adirondack Woodcraft Camp? Is there a lot of woodworking?" As any camper will tell you, AWC is not a woodworking camp. Woodcraft, in this context, refers to skillfulness in the ways of living in the forest. The term is no longer common in current speech as the public's understanding of outdoors skills has evolved to include modern technological advances. 

Woodcraft came into the national consciousness in 1902 when Ernest Thompson Seton founded the Woodcraft Indians, a youth program aimed at educating children about the outdoors. The Woodcraft Indians were the predecessor to the Boy Scouts of America, which Seton also co-founded in 1910. A similar organization, the Woodcraft Folk, still exists in United Kingdom.

Ernest Thompson Seton, image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Seton was a prolific writer and artist. Of his numerous works, many had the word "woodcraft" in the title, including The Book of Woodcraft -- published in 1921. It was in this era that AWC was founded by William Abbott, a young forestry expert steeped in the ways of the wilderness. Providing children knowledge and enjoyment of the outdoors was Abbott's goal and continues to be the purpose of Woodcraft nearly a century later.

Wildlife sketch by Ernest Thompson Seton. For more information visit the Ernest Thompson Seton Pages.

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