Learn­ing ad­ven­tures

En­cour­age ad­ven­ture, dar­ing and the learn­ing of es­sen­tial life skills by tak­ing part in a bush craft course in the heart of the Nor­folk coun­try­side

EDP Norfolk - - EDUCATION - visit­the­broads.co.uk/whats-on WORDS: Rachel Buller

With chil­dren spend­ing an in­creas­ing amount of time seden­tary in front of screens, find­ing ways to get them out­side, ac­tive and en­gaged in a nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment be­comes more and more im­por­tant.

At­tend­ing a bush craft course in the heart of the Nor­folk coun­try­side pro­vides ad­ven­ture and fun, as well as teach­ing es­sen­tial life skills.

Whether they are go­ing as part of an or­gan­ised school group, or with their fam­ily for an ad­ven­tur­ous day out, the ben­e­fits of spend­ing a few hours learn­ing how to build fires, climb trees, make camps, for­age and cook in the wild and use sharp tools go well be­yond sur­viv­ing in the wild.

There are sev­eral com­pa­nies across the county that of­fer bush craft ex­pe­ri­ences for chil­dren, adults and fam­i­lies, tak­ing in many dif­fer­ent land­scapes – from the rivers and wa­ter­ways of the Broads to forests and wood­land.

‘They are learn­ing to man­age and take risks, which is a life­long skill’

Nick San­der­son, ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer for the Broads Au­thor­ity, says they have been run­ning bush craft cour­ses since 2009 and they form an in­te­gral part of their ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme.

“There are still many chil­dren who love spend­ing time out­side and there is some ex­cel­lent out­door learn­ing pro­vi­sion in schools, es­pe­cially with the For­est School pro­gramme. But there are an aw­ful lot of kids who don’t get the chance to climb trees or sleep out­side or cook over a camp­fire. There is dis­en­gage­ment be­tween a lot of fam­i­lies and the out­doors and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, but given the op­por­tu­nity to get out there, most chil­dren grab it with both hands and run with it.”

Cour­ses can in­clude fire start­ing, shel­ter build­ing, an­i­mal track­ing, nav­i­gat­ing, tool mak­ing and geo­caching. Most are run at Whitling­ham Coun­try Park, near Nor­wich, but they are be­ing ex­tended to other parts of the Broads. An­other es­sen­tial el­e­ment of bush craft is giv­ing young peo­ple the chance to learn about risk.

“I don’t think chil­dren are nec­es­sar­ily star­tled by risk, they are a lit­tle bit wor­ried some­times but teach­ing them sen­si­ble risk man­age­ment skills and a sen­si­ble ap­proach to us­ing things like sharp tools or work­ing with fire, with the right pro­ce­dures in place from us, pays div­i­dends. They are learn­ing to man­age and take risks, which is a life­long skill.”

As well as work­ing with school groups, there is a pro­gramme of events on the Broads which run through­out the school hol­i­days for fam­i­lies – which, says, Nick is one of the most ef­fec­tive ways of en­cour­ag­ing that re­con­nec­tion with na­ture.

“Our hope is that it will en­cour­age fam­i­lies to get out more with their chil­dren once they have seen how much they get out of it, how ad­ven­tur­ous they can be. It might sim­ply be that it in­spires them to go walk­ing in the woods more, or pick­ing black­ber­ries, or they might all sleep out in the gar­den. We want to light that spark of in­ter­est, to get ev­ery­one to en­gage more in the great out­doors and to see the enor­mous ben­e­fits.”

Pho­to­graph: Bill Smith for the Broads Au­thor­ity ©

ABOVE:Nick San­der­son lead­ing the ed­u­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties at Whitling­ham with Year 8 & 9 stu­dents from Long Strat­ton who are cook­ing over a fire

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