Team Living by Nature

Let me introduce you to Team Living by Nature. These are the people that make everything and more possible. Filled with knowledges and enthusiasm.
Thijmen Apswoude

Thijmen Apswoude

Owner, Head Instructor

Thijmen Apswoude

Nature is the dominant theme in Thijmen’s life. It has been for as long as he can remember.

When he was still a young boy, his father used to take him out on a regular basis to watch the wildlife, tend to bees and to find an altogether sense of serenity in nature. During his father’s twelve-year absence, Thijmen tended to find exactly that in forests everywhere.

Thijmen grew up amongst hunters, nature lovers, bee keepers en many other nature oriented enthusiasts. At the tender age of seventeen, Thijmen moved out being already well groomed to meet nature’s tough demands.

It was at this age he started developing his know-how of nature by his own initiative. He stocked up on nature themed books, went out to forests with friends and acquaintances and experimented with all kinds of building shelter, crafting rope, foraging for food en gaining an overall experience of living in the wild. He not only went by the modern equipment for surviving in such environments, but indulged in learning and adapting the ancient ways of survival. It is then he first coined the term ‘bushcraft’ among friends. Little did anyone know that soon hereafter, at the age of twenty, Thijmen would not only be scurrying amongst trees and bushes for pure fun. He would transform his passion into something that has become more than learning. It has become teaching. His knowledge of living by nature has become so abundant; he’s applied himself to showing others the craft and benefits of the ways of old. The ways that still apply today.

Surviving alone or with a single companion for over two weeks, with no other equipment than a knife, has taught him many things. Not in the least that he found his place. It isn’t where walls of brick and stone keep out the conditions that weary most other people. It is those places where you feel small and one with nature. Where he doesn’t feel like a citizen but a human being.

“If you’ve never done it before, it’s hard to imagine,” he says, “I became conscious.”

In 2010 he founded a company together with the owner of the internet-based Dutch Bushcraft forum and they called it Bushcraft International. The company provides courses on many bushcraft and survival related scenarios. Thijmen still works as an instructor for this company today. After short stints with Moosetrail Bushcrafts and other companies of the sort, Bushcraft International picked up. And so did Thijmen’s spirit.

Over the past four years he has seen many European landscapes and designed courses for each different environment and scenario. Bushcraft International is associated with Woodsmoke and a former instructor of Ray Mears, known for his nature-related Discovery Channel television series.

He’s adamant about everything he’s doing in nature and for the company. He intends to let people get acquainted with ‘the bushcraft experience’ and to realize what it’s like to forego many ways of modern civilization. “People ask me frequently how I started in the bushcraft world and what makes me a ‘bushcrafter’,” he says, “I reply by saying I was raised that way.”

Willow Lohr

Willow Lohr

Head Instructor

With over 15 years of professional wilderness skills and bushcraft experience behind me I am very comfortable with a broad variety of outdoor skills and ancient handcrafts. I have developed and led survival and bushcraft courses for a variety of reputable bushcraft schools in the UK. All my life I have lived in the remoter parts of the countryside. I was born in the Netherlands, but moved to the hills of Scotland when I was 17 years old. Being outdoors is an essential and deep need in my everyday life. I have travelled and experienced expeditions to Thailand and Brunei’s jungles and Sahara’s deserts, but my passion lies with the North on snowshoe expeditions in the frozen landscapes of Lapland, Iceland and Maine. With a university degree in philosophy I have a mind which is always curious with regard to ‘invisible’ knowledge and ancient wisdom. In order to access the old ‘way of life’ I have found that learning and engaging in the traditional handcrafts of our ancestors provides a perfect pathway to ancient wilderness livingskills. I have a holistic manner of teaching which goes beyond working with your hands, but also feeds your soul with tales of old lore.

Giles Newman

Giles Newman

Instructor

Giles Newman is a fine art wood carver whose work is inspired by and created in harmony with nature. Using locally sourced, naturally fallen wood and working with just an axe and a knife, his art spoons, fine jewellery and sculptures have become highly sought after collectors items and have been featured widely in the media in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia. The unique nature of Giles’ carvings, his approach, technique and style have lead him to teach the art of woodcarving to hundreds of students of all levels and abilities from all over the world.

Dr. Lisa Fenton

Dr. Lisa Fenton

Instructor

Dr. Lisa Fenton, is both an academic and practitioner of wilderness survival and bushcraft skills. She combines her academic role in ethnobiology and anthropology with her long-standing field experience in bushcraft and wilderness survival skills. Initially serving her apprenticeship with Ray Mears, Lisa then co-created her own bushcraft organisation, Woodsmoke, in the Lake District National Park for 17 years. During that period she took an MSc in Ethnobotany from the University of Kent and in conjunction with Kew Gardens, where she was invited to continue to study for her doctorate in Bushcraft & Indigenous Knowledge. She is a university lecturer across Outdoor Studies degree programs, and has recently developed the first Masters degree pathway in Bushcraft Studies.

Through both her academic research, and through a myriad of local and global experiences that ranges across a variety of remote environments, Lisa feels sure that bushcraft engenders a way of being in landscape ecologies that knits us closely into the very fabric of materials and conditions of our natural environment. Learning from Indigenous peoples, who have retained the skills to live in and utilise the vast possibilities a landscape can afford us, for clothes, tools, food, medicines, and shelter, Lisa advocates an approach to bushcraft skill and study that respectfully moves towards these traditional ecological knowledges – known as the ethnosphere.

Lisa is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s, Rewilding Taskforce (IUCN), A fellow of the Centre for National Parks & Protected Areas (CNPPA), and the International Bushcraft & Survival Association and an executive fellow of the Wilderness Bushcraft Society. Her most recent research is working towards the creation of a new community forest park in The Gambia.

Dr. Theresa Emmerich Kamper

Dr. Theresa Emmerich Kamper

Instructor

Theresa is an avid practitioner of traditional living skills and primitive technology of all kinds, and has followed this interest into the academic field of Experimental Archaeology, in which she holds a Master’s degree from the University of Exeter. She also holds a doctorate (PhD) from the same institution, on the microscopic analysis of prehistoric tanning technologies. She is currently an honorary research fellow with the University of Exeter and teaches practical courses across Europe, North America and the Near East on various tannage technologies as well as continuing to engage in research projects with a broad array of museum and academic institutions.

Theresa has been tanning skins using traditional technologies for over twenty-five years. Coming originally from the state of Wyoming in the United States, she was lucky enough to grow up as part of a family of outdoor enthusiasts. This enthusiasm extended to hunting, fishing and trapping in the vast tracks of wilderness surrounding her home town. Learning to tan was a natural offshoot of the attempt to use as much of the animal as possible and had the added bonus of producing a beautiful end product. Through much trial and error and with the support of very tolerant parents, she learned to brain tan between the age of 12 and 13. Later interaction with other traditional tanners and excellent written information vastly improved the efficiency and quality of her tanning process and end product.

Theresa has taught various tannage types such as fat tan, vegetable tan, alum taw and rawhide production to groups ranging from bush craft practitioners to University students for the past eight years, drawing on her extensive personal experience to provide a broad understanding of the tanning process. She includes in her instruction a diverse range of information, from skin morphology to helpful hints in dealing with the numerous and frustrating problems which are often encountered when first learning to tan (and often long after!).
In addition to her specialisation in tanning technologies, Theresa has also taught and demonstrated a wide range of traditional living skills including; the construction and use of traditional weapons, the use of plant and animal fibres, patterning and clothing construction, basketry, clay processing, pottery manufacture and firing, shelter construction and use, friction fire lighting and basic flint knapping and the construction and use of stone tools.

Julia Kalthoff

Julia Kalthoff

Instructor

I think axes are amazing. The history, the aesthetics, the culture, everything. When we started making axes 2,5 million years ago, this marks our transformation to become humans in prehistoric times. Since then the axe allows us to fell trees, build houses, hunt, maintain a fire and more. We have explored new land and built new societies with an axe in our hand.

For me it started at the age of nineteen with a curiosity about the dirty work of shaping glowing steel using my own body. I fell completely in love with forging metal. It gives a very sensational feeling: you become warm from the inside, and there’s the heat of the fire, and the shape taking form. I think all craftspeople fall in love with the material they work with.

I learned forging at axe forge Gränsfors Bruk and then started working at axe forge Wetterlings, first as stand-in for the manager and then as ceo. It was a great honor to be a part of these teams and I learned a lot. Then I wanted to work in smaller scale to create conditions to stay true to my values in all aspects of the tool and in each step of the making. I am looking for all the details that make the difference – all the little secrets that make a good axe.

My research mostly focused on two areas – the functionality and the metallurgy of the axe. To investigate the functionality I forged an axe and carved a handle, sent it to axe carving pro Beth Moen, got feedback, made changes, and repeated like that until we were both satisfied. I also had a lot of other pro carvers testing it, and I used it myself a lot. Metallurgic testing and evaluation was done in cooperation with edge tool metalurgy doctor Fredrik Haakonsen. We wend though a variety of different steels, forging methods and hardening methods until we found the optimal way. This process was really intersting and did challenge my preconceived assumptions.

I really love the feeling when axing. To be relaxed and work in your own rhythm. The axe becomes an extension of yourself. Sometimes you use your whole body to chop off big chunks, and sometimes you gently carve see-through shavings. I can disappear in looking at the grain to see where to place the next cut. Slowly let the shape get closer to your aim. Listen to the sound of a sharp tool in the green wood.

In opposition to metal, there is such a freedom in wood, because it is so accessible, and all you need is your axe and knife to shape it.

As important as the axe has been in the history of mankind, it still is for us today, but not for the same reasons. Working with your hands makes you relate and connect to the world around you in a more respectful and humble way. Craft and nature also work as a calm oasis for many people in this fast spinning world. The axe embodies strength in so many ways.

It is very natural for us as humans to make things; we have made things for thousands of generations, and it is very satisfying to have a need and then fulfil it yourself. Working with your hands gives you practical confidence and making things offers such an empowering feeling. You honour the tree in every hour you spend creating something from it, and then you have that object, or perhaps give it to someone you love, to keep for an entire lifetime.

Making axes, using axes and thinking about the different details of an axe never stops to fascinate. I make axes out of curiosity and love for the tool itself. Also, because making tools for others is like spreading waves of all this around the world. Hoping they will inspire people to make something with their own hands, giving others as much satisfaction as it gives me.

Julia Kalthoff

Morten Kutschera

Morten Kutschera

Instructor / Master Flintknapper

Morten Kutschera is a master flintknapper, experimental archaeologist and well known replica-maker based in Bergen, Norway. With over 25 years’ experience working in public archaeology, giving lectures and flint knapping demonstrations at museums across Norway, he has been one of the pioneers in teaching prehistory through activity-based instruction. His ideas and replicas are currently widely used in teaching programs across Norway within his company ‘Morten Kutschera’s Prehistoric Arts & Crafts’. During this time Morten has also taught flintknapping and other stone technologies to large numbers of interested students and archaeological professionals.

Within the field of academic archaeology, and throughout his career as a field archaeologist, Morten’s main focus has been on the lithic technology of the Early Mesolithic and Late Upper Paleolithic industries of North-Western Europe. Over the years, however, his interests expanded to encompass materials besides stone and he is now capable of reproducing a wide range of tools, weapons, accessories and utensils from different time periods using bone, antler, wood, and other organic materials.

Each replicated item combines authenticity and attention to details with functionality; it is not enough that a replica looks good, if it was not produced in a period appropriate fashion or cannot be used for the artifacts intended purpose. Replicas produced by Morten can be found in museums across Norway and Denmark. Due to his research background and location, his primary focus has been Scandinavian archaeology and material culture, but recently he has taken on more international projects.

Despite widening his scope of craft materials, Morten is first and foremost a flintknapper who constantly challenges himself to expand his repertoire of techniques through continued archaeological research based replication. This willingness to push the boundaries of his skill set has allowed him to accumulate a broad array of both Eurasian and American knapping technologies.

This is reflected in his teaching style where students will learn much more than how to produce a pretty projectile point. Courses cover a wide range of different technologies, from the basics of fracture mechanics to advanced techniques ranging from bifacing to indirect percussion, all of which are based on his expertise as an archaeological lithic analyst. This gives students the opportunity to learn not just the how-to aspects of knapping, but to enrich that process by knowing when, where and by whom their newly acquired skills were used in the past.

Siegurd van Leusen

Siegurd van Leusen

Fundament Instructeur

Siegurd van Leusen is de oprichter van SIEGURD.nl en buitensporter in hart en nieren. Opgegroeid op het platteland in Umbrië, Italië en pas op zijn 19de terug naar Nederland om kort daarna nog eens te verhuizen voor drie jaar tussen de Franse wijngaarden. Inmiddels alweer een lange tijd terug in Nederland. Nu werkt hij, overigens nog steeds met veel plezier, inmiddels al meer dan vijftien jaar bij Outline Travel als hoofdinstructeur buitensport en waar hij het gehele Bushcraft gedeelte runt onder zijn eigen label.

Zijn liefde voor de outdoor heeft hij al vanaf het moment dat hij nog maar net kon lopen. Vier maanden oud verhuist hij met zijn ouders naar Italië. Eerst een paar jaar in het uiterste zuiden, Calabrië en daarna tot zijn 19de verjaardag in het mooie en groene Umbrië. Hier leert hij het eenvoudige waarderen en het avontuurlijke opzoeken! Met ouders als zendelingen en dus met een laag inkomen, wordt het leven vanzelf creatiever en inventiever en zie je de dingen meer als uitdagingen dan als problemen. Eenvoudige dingen als koken op houtvuur of kolen, zelf je eigen eten telen of uit de natuur halen, werden de normaalste zaak van de wereld. Siegurd groeide op met vrienden uit boerengezinnen, waar het eten gewoon op het erf rond liep. Hij keek ook niet raar op als er in de avond hetzelfde konijntje op tafel tussen de gebakken aardappelen lag terwijl het vrolijk in de middag nog rondliep! Regelmatig trok hij de heuvels in met zijn knapzak, alleen of met zijn broertjes en vrienden.

Op zijn 19de verhuisde hij terug naar Nederland, maar de liefde voor de natuur bleef. Zijn voornaamste hobby’s zijn langeafstandswandelen en alpinisme. Hij beklimt meerdere keren de Mont Blanc en Gran Paradiso maar ook de Mont Blanc du Tacul, Arête du Cosmiques en de Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Siegurd volgt verschillende alpiene cursussen en een EHBBO (Eerste Hulp Bij Bergsport Ongevallen) cursus in Zermatt o.l.v. van de bekende alpinist en reddingswerker Menno Boermans.

Echter zijn grootste passie blijft het beklimmen van Munro’s in Schotland. Begonnen in 1996 en met 282 bergen te gaan is Schotland het land waar je hem het meeste zult vinden buiten Nederland. Ondanks regen en midges is en blijft Siegurd verknocht aan dit prachtige land.

Bushcraft is niet ooit een keuze geweest voor hem maar is er altijd al geweest en is verder ontwikkeld tot wat het nu is. Siegurd is erg leergierig en probeert zijn liefde voor de natuur op deze manier verder te ontwikkelen. Hij heeft zijn vuurmaak skills opgefrist tijdens een persoonlijke cursus met Dale Collett van de British Bushcraft School. Ook heeft hij cursussen gevolgd bij Woodlore het bedrijf van de Bushcraft legende Ray Mears.

Katrien Leemen

Katrien Leemen

Instructor

Katrien wasn’t the typical outdoors kid. She grew up in a big city and her contact with nature was limited to the annual family holiday in the Ardennes.

Nevertheless her urge for adventure has been there since she was young and with many detours in the Balkans, it took her to the virgin forest of southern Slovenia. These hidden primeval forests, known for their wide variety of species, but also as the home of animals such as wolves, bears and lynxes. Wandering through nature she got fascinated by the stories of the forest, the visible and invisible tales.


Plants and trees, animals and their tracks, fire and its ancient history, the knowledge and skills of our ancestors,… All parts of a powerful set of stories that call to be heard and told. And that is exactly what Katrien wants to do: listen, learn, see, be and to experience and pass this on to others…

MSc Stefan Sand

MSc Stefan Sand

Instructor

Bushcraft brings together all sorts of things Stefan is interested in: ecology, ethnology and archeology.

He is a life long birder and has spend several summers in the Arctic to study their behavior. This is where he fell in love with the North and most of its creatures (except mosquitos).

Like our ancestors Stefan likes hunting and gathering: wild boar and precious pieces of gnarly wood now and then. For the purpose of creating more out of it then fire wood and meat for the grill.

Besides Bushcraft he has a career as an arborist (guy up in the tree) and professional bird counter.

Anna Luijten

Anna Luijten

Instructor

Anna grew up in Luxemburg and came to the Netherlands to study a BSc Biology and a MSc Forest & Nature Conservation.

To escape the musty study books, she travelled to several countries in search of wilderness. Al along her travels she drew her stories.

In the isolated cold North-Russia she finally found her wilderness treasure: endless plains with not a soul around except for the local kings -raindeers, musksox and bears-.

Back in the Netherlands she became, after a detour as a video producer, ecologist. Among others, this entails that during the summer she is active at night, listening and seeking, for bats.

To nurture her wilderness cravings, she started to follow courses at Living by Nature. She felt into a warm bath and decided to stay after successfully completing the instructor course. At your service!

Iris Kleinlugtenbelt

Iris Kleinlugtenbelt

Instructor / Coach

Als ik van binnen naar buiten de natuur inga dan is de eerste ademteug alleen al heerlijk. Ik ruikt de bomen, de geur van de velden. Ik hoor de vogels en de wind. Als ik echt buiten even stilsta bij de complexiteit van de natuur dan voel ik me verbonden en klein tegelijk. Ik realiseer hoe afgestemd alles is. Stel je voor dat de kranen geen water meer zouden geven? Wat er dan gebeurt is onvoorstelbaar.

Het een kan niet zonder het ander, de ene techniek maakt weer dat je iets anders kunt doen. Ook daarin zitten schakels. Zelf vind ik de transformatie mooi. Van plantaardige vezel naar touw, van huid naar kleding. Van bot naar sieraden of speerpunten. Er zijn zoveel materialen die je kunt gebruiken om je gereedschappen en benodigdheden mee te maken. Het ervaren hoeveel tijd en energie het kost om een paar meter touw te maken bijvoorbeeld maakt bewust hoe we met de wereld omgaan.

Wat de natuur met mensen doet is dat het status en moderne gemakken afpelt. Buiten is iedereen gelijk. Wat bent in de moderne maatschappij, doet er niet toe. Buiten heeft iedereen het koud of warm. Bovendien redt je het niet alleen, niet gemakkelijk in ieder geval. Je moet samenwerken om dingen voor elkaar te krijgen. En de feedback is direct en duidelijk. Geen vuur betekent kou. De eenvoud van de focus op het moment geeft rust. De euforie van het slagen van een project geeft plezier en zelfvertrouwen. Buiten zijn maakt dat je het leven zelf intenser kunt ervaren.

Gijs Staghouwer

Gijs Staghouwer

Assistent Instructor

Hallo
Ik ben Gijs Staghouwer. Zolang ik mij kan herinneren, heeft de natuur al mijn interesse, maar sinds ik Bushcraft heb ontdekt, ben ik “thuis”. In februari 2018 ben ik begonnen met de jaaropleiding bij Living by nature. Dat heb ik in september 2019 afgerond met de eindexpeditie naar Zweden.

In de jaaropleiding heb ik kunnen ‘snuffelen’ aan vele onderwerpen en ambachten die in de opleiding voor bij kwamen. Onder andere het boogbouwen vond ik ontzettend leuk en interessant. Maar ook het leer looien begin ik steeds meer te waarderen. Het feit dat ik hiermee vervolgens mijn eigen kleding kan maken, maakt het hele plaatje compleet.

De jaaropleiding heeft mij doen beseffen, dat hout een belangrijk component is bij vele ambachten. Het wordt sinds mensenheugenis gebruikt voor vele dingen. Dit heeft ook mijn grootste interesse, mede omdat het veel voor handen is en relatief makkelijk te bewerken. Houtbewerking kan je vertalen naar veel verschillende aspecten, zoals bijvoorbeeld, kopjes maken, bogen bouwen, maar ook om vuur te maken is het erg belangrijk. Het mooie van hout is dat het geleefd heeft, dus ieder stuk hout is uniek, voelt anders, ruikt anders en werkt anders. Bijvoorbeeld een es heeft hele lange vezels en kan je makkelijk buigen maar een beuk heeft hele korte vezels dus kan bijna niet buigen, zonder dat het gaat breken. Beide hebben hun eigen voor en nadelen. Het moge duidelijk zijn, dat ik een grote liefde voor hout heb.

De meer primitieve aspecten, de oude ambachten van onze ‘voorvaderen’ uit de oertijd, heb ik door Living by Nature leren kennen en ik wil mij er graag verder in verdiepen. Gelukkig sta ik nog aan het begin van mijn Bushcraft carrière, dus ik heb nog zeeën van tijd om veel te leren en te ontdekken.
Daarom ben ik bezig met de instructeursopleiding bij Living by Nature. Om mezelf verder te ontwikkelen en later mijn vaardigheden aan anderen te kunnen door geven.

Eigenlijk heb ik het idee dat hoe meer ik weet, hoe meer ik weet dat ik het niet weet.
Oftewel…hoe meer ik weet, hoe meer het besef komt, dat ik het eigenlijk niet weet, of in ieder geval lang niet alles.

Casper Mittendorp

Casper Mittendorp

Assistent Instructor

Van jongs af aan was ik al in de natuur te vinden, respect voor de natuur is mij vroeg bijgebracht door scouting en door mijn oom, beide zijn een grote inspiratie bron voor mij geweest om te beginnen met bushcraften.

Ik heb een buitensport opleiding gevolgd en ben hiermee in contact gekomen met Living By Nature waar ik uiteindelijk twee stages gelopen heb. Bij Living By Nature kwam ik er achter dat bushcraften meer is dan spelen met een mes en een vuurtje stoken in het bos. Al snel hierop besloot ik de jaar opleiding bij living by Nature te volgen.

Bushcraft sluit perfect aan bij een andere passie van mij; levende geschiedenis. Door primitieve overlevingstechnieken en ambachten te leren kom je er achter hoe je voorouders geleefd hebben, en hoe dit veranderde door het verstrijken van de tijd mooi het verstrijken van tijd

Rob Mennen

Rob Mennen

Cook / Logistics

Because of my interest in old crafts and hiking i have joined the team in 2016
as a volunteer.
through the years i have followed the year course and the instructors course
which made me realize that you can do so much more than you think you can
and that there is a gigantic world to learn about right in front of you
For me in incredibly important that old crafts and knowledge are maintained
I try to do what i can to contribute to this cause .

I love to try and make things with my own two hands
from the tools to work with until the finished end product
But to be honest my passion is with food and everything around it
from the knowledge how to hunt to preparing the most wonderful dishes

The starting of a fire and controling the heat,
do you want hot coals or a roaring fire,
taking your time cause outside it is done when it is done,
How is the temperature outside wich kind of wood are you burning,
where is the wind coming from etc etc .
There are so many variables you need to take in consideration .

the possibilities are endless if you think about it creatively
This is something i love to share with our students