Adventure Education in Nature

Working with the children from my previous post, Wednesday morning was spent orienteering. The most memorable bits were: two girls learning to encourage a boy with a low attention span to engage in the task, me being humbled by map orientation without a compass – I was about 20 degrees out, and chatting with the teacher about opportunities for nature connection and teamwork in an indoor and individualistic education system. Is one week in five years enough?

Wednesday afternoon was spent climbing a 10 meter wobbly pole and standing four team members at a time on the top, followed by another climbing challenge up Jacob’s Ladder – horizontal logs that get further and further apart. Teamwork, trust, encouragement, attentiveness, managing fear, keeping calm, pushing out of the comfort zone and accepting failure were on the menu for most. It was a good day, followed by more night walks and team games while I took a well-earned evening off.

Thursday morning was spent on the low ropes challenge course, where it was a joy to see the children progress from individuals and pairs into a cohesive, supportive and successful team. This was followed by the muddy obstacle course, where the recent teamwork and encouragement was in full flow on the high wall and much fun was had clambering over logs, crawling under nets and wriggling through tubes.

Reaching the end of the childrens’ stay, we took a few minutes to review the highs, the lows, the lessons and the memories. It was such a pleasure and a privilege to work with these children and play a small part in their education. It made me think how our education system seems so focused on performance over process, individual over team and work over enjoyment. What would we be like if we all had the opportunity for adventure education in nature for one day in five? I wonder…

Posted: November 9th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Teamwork, Challenge, Failure & Fun

Back at the Field Studies Centre, I delivered a bushcraft session to 11 and 12 year old children yesterday. With a focus on teamwork in groups of 3 or 4, the children had 30 minutes to build the structure of shelter they could all fit inside. Watching them enjoying the task and each other’s company, it was clear that motivation and group harmony were key to their success.

With three great looking shelters constructed, we moved on to fire lighting and our first attempt at making fire with cotton wool tinder and a magnesium flint. The rain and damp wood made this very tricky, even with a good pile of tiny, snappy twigs. Every group managed to light the cotton wool and coax a small flame from a few twigs but none us managed to keep it going into a fire.

The failure to light our fires and make herbal tea from the mint and nettles we had picked earlier was disappointing for all of us, but it was great material for a discussion. Prompted with a few questions, the children talked about the qualities they need to overcome failure and the support they can offer each other when facing tough challenges as a team.

After dinner, we went on a night walk up Hampsfell. Learning to walk in the dark and use their night vision was a big adventure for some of the children, until the rain clouds parted to reveal a bright moon and a beautiful view of its light shining on the wet sands of Morecambe Bay. All the children seemed lively, happy and in their element – in nature.

Posted: November 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
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