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