There are not many better ways into your landscape than to explore it through the senses of a bushcrafter. Take the basic tenets: Shelter, Water, Fire and Food and all of a sudden you need to change the way you move through the countryside and learn to observe how it can provide for you. Where will you find clean water? Will you be able to stay warm and dry if it starts raining? Which plants are edible and which should you avoid? Can you get a fire going – even if the wood is wet?
Children, thrilled by the exploits of Ray Mears and Bear Grylls, relish the opportunity to challenge themselves in the great outdoors, stalking wild animals to get close up views, harvesting natural materials to make shelters, whittling green wood to make a rudimentary tool, igniting a fire after collecting a variety of tinder. To take risks and challenge themselves physically, to work together to achieve a shared goal and just let their playful imaginations run wild – these things belong to childhood and yet we are becoming so good at removing them.
If the children of today relate in this tactile and meaningful way with their landscape, they will learn its value and caring for it will surely follow. For not only will they appreciate how it provides for life’s essential needs but also along the way they have learnt about the plants and animals that live within it and how each one, whether you know its name or not, has a role to play and has similar needs to you – space to live, clean water and food.
During the summer holidays, Gatwick Greenspace Partnership is offering opportunities for children and families to enjoy learning a little more about what can be found around them in the woods of the High Weald and picking up some new skills along the way. See event pages for details