Happy, muddy children and young people on some of our recent Forest Schools and youth groups

There is never a dull moment at Forest school. The children are free to choose what to do but we always have so many interesting projects to get involved in. This year some of the activities have been black-smithing and making a pit forge, seed bombs, see-saws and log playgrounds, camp-fire pizzas and jam making, charcoal pencil making, whittling mallets and mushrooms, building a raft to launch at the Pirate Castle, tree climbing, Firelighting skills and axe work, Clay and kiln making, Shelter building, weaving, primitve axe and bow making and anything else the children can imagine!

Refugee Advocacy Projects – delivered in partnership with Hopscotch

 Throughout 2021 – 2023 we have been working with the Hopscotch charity on their refugee advocacy project to deliver Forest schools and art projects to Afghan refugees housed in Inner London Hotels. In the Easter school holidays we delivered a sculpture trail around Euston looking at negative spaces ( the spaces between the shapes in the largescale artworks) Then the young people made large scale sculptures from shapes they had enlarged from their sketches. The artworks were displayed at the British Library as part of Refugee Week in June 23.

Past Youth Projects “Into the wild we go”

Youth Program ran in 2021/22

“Into the wild we go” was a year-long project that  facilitates groups of young people on a journey of discovery in and through nature.

The project is the result of a pilot scheme we ran last summer with year 7 secondary transition students and conversations we had with them and other young people in our Forest School practice.

The project offered young people aged 12-14 years an opportunity to grow alongside experienced and qualified Forest School practitioners, to learn:

          • bush-craft skills
          • How to build confidence and self-esteem
          • How to develop a sense of self and discover the outdoors
          • self-reliance, group dynamics, and creativity

The project offered young people opportunities to discover the world around them through their senses and how that resonates with their inner world and wellbeing. Through experiences in nature alone, in pairs and as a group we develop a stronger sense of an integrated relationship to life and build up courage that will lead to inner strength and a commitment to improving the lives of others.

In recent years a large number of studies have been carried out that investigate the significance of contact with nature, for children’s health and for building strong and sustainable relationship with the environment. Edward Owen Wilson calls it: ‘Biophilia’: ‘the humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other form of life’.  There is a nature deficit unravelling in our society, heightened by the current corona virus but also as a general tendency in society. Richard Luv describes it as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’. “Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”

In our practice we have seen many times children and families being divorced from their surrounding nature due to a lack of exposure, economic means, mental health and community. By giving young people the opportunity to spend time in nature in a guided but unstructured way, gives them the chance to discover their untapped creativity and grow their self-esteem to set them on a path towards self-actualization. We have worked with many children who may not have been seen to be ‘flourishing’ in a traditional classroom setting, who benefited hugely to unrestricted, self-directed actions and discovery in these natural environments.

Through experiences in nature and spending time solo, in pairs and as a group the young people developed a stronger sense of an integrated relationship to life and built up courage that will lead to inner strength and a commitment to improving the lives of others.