A new approach
This year, due to COVID-19, we changed up the holiday club schedule, so that the children participated over four consecutive
days. By having the same children and the same staff together over four days gave us more freedom to take on bigger projects and build stronger friendships. By the end of the week play dates had been arranged and penpals set up. Dens and shelters could be expanded and whittling projects evolved and of course lots of fire lighting practice. It was great to see the children progress through the week and their skills improve such as being able to get a spark from the flint and steel and sustaining a fire enough so they could roast their marshmallows.
No such thing as bad weather….
The sound of laughter echoed through the woods and the children took everything in their stride from extra hand washing to experiencing every type of weather. You could see that the children have missed playing together and exploring the natural world and lots of team games emerged, such as floor is lava and camouflage. With Forest School being child-led the children determined most of the schedule and they came up with some great ideas such as nature art projects including charcoal and making compasses to adapting the treehouse into a fort and using it in imaginative play.
They even wallowed through the river after heavy rain and enjoyed getting wet and muddy. When they had enough of running around the children enjoyed relaxing in the hammocks and taking 5, to build up their energy. I was very impressed by how well the groups got along and how they found their own bubbles to work in. And feedback from parents throughout the summer seemed to reflect our feelings with one Mum saying ‘My son had an amazing time attending the summer camp. Very well organised and brilliantly ran in the middle of a pandemic.My son came home every day muddy, wet and full of stories!’
Some final thoughts
The children helped out with sawing firewood and keeping the site tidy. We installed tidy Friday, but on a Thursday, so that we got the site tidy and then we could carry on with playing and having fun. It is amazing how easy it is to get children to pick up litter if you make it in to a scavenger hunt. We still enjoyed our marshmallows at the end of the session and a great way to end a day in the woods. It was lovely to see the children leaving full of smiles and excited to return the next day.
Author: Hannah Sutton, TLP Worker and Forest School Leader
Date: Tuesday 8th September