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.