Thijmen Apswoude

Man dressed in buckskins

Thijmen Apswoude is the founder and head instructor of Living by Nature, one of the leading bushcraft schools in the Netherlands.

Thijmen spent his whole childhood amongst hunters, nature lovers, bee keepers and many other nature-oriented enthusiasts. When he was seventeen Thijmen moved out of his family home, ready to meet “nature’s tough demands”.

It was at this age, already with a good level of outdoor knowledge, he really started developing his know-how of nature. By his own initiative and inquisitiveness he stocked up on nature themed books, went out to forests alone, or with friends and acquaintances and experimented. This included, but was not limited to, with all kinds of shelter building, crafting cordage, foraging for food and water, and gaining an overall experience of living in the wild.

He not only used modern equipment for surviving in such environments but indulged in learning and adapting the ancient ways of living Around this time he started using the term bushcraft amongst his friends. Then, at the age of eighteen, Thijmen decided he would transform his passion into something that has become more than learning. It has become teaching. Through Living by Nature he has applied himself to showing others the craft and benefits of the ways of old. The ways that still apply today.

One of his experiences, surviving alone or with a single companion for over eight weeks, with no other equipment than a knife, taught him many things. He says it was “not in the least that I found my place. This 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 I don’t feel like a citizen but a human being. If you’ve never done it before, it’s hard to imagine. I became conscious.”

Over the past ten years he has seen many European and Canadian landscapes and designed courses for different environments and scenarios. He has developed several courses for bushcraft schools in Europe and has been a guest instructor for various companies. Living by Nature has become international, and nowadays is one of the most well-regarded European schools in bushcraft, primitive and native skills.

Recent years have all been full of education with over 300 days of teaching with colleagues and for other schools. His CV is singular in bushcraft and entrepreneurship. His speciality is crossing bridges and creating possibilities. Thijmen brings together academic knowledge and practical education, creating courses from a single day to over a year.

He has developed a full year program for aspirant instructors in teaching bushcraft skills. His team at Living By Nature is now about 20 people, including several instructors, a graphical designer, accountant, business manager and people with a PhD degree, who help him create a wider range of possibilities in what he can offer.

Most important to Thijmen are the quality of the lessons. So gear is no concern in his courses. He’s adamant about everything he’s doing in nature and for Living By Nature. He intention is to let people get acquainted with ‘the bushcraft experience’ and to realize what it’s like to forego many ways of modern civilization.

Thijmen’s colleague Marco tells us “Besides all this knowledge and expertise Thijmen is also a very genuine and fun guy to be with, he has a good taste of humour and he will surprise you with a funny joke or either something big he just happened to organise in a minute, like a 7 course dinner on a bushcraft event. Never a dull moment with Thijmen around. If you want info on how to continue with your company or how its the best way to continue learning when you have the feeling you reached the roof. He is the one to speak to. Thijmen sees possibilities where others don’t.“

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