Author Milly Hawkins
I am sometimes asked what exactly we do at Forest School. “Supporting participants to strengthen their own relationship with nature”, or “helping them to know, respect, and ultimately protect the natural world”, would be fair answers, but I could also say “have a look at this video”.
Although this video was mainly filmed outside of our sessions, it does show rather beautifully the spirit of enthusiasm for nature that we try to generate at Forest School. 12 year old Leo chose to make this video to complete his John Muir Award at Explorer level, which we have piloted with some of our Forest School group of home educated children. The award encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment whilst discovering and exploring wild places – pretty much what we do at Forest School anyway, so it’s quite a good match.
For me it’s the detail, and enthusiasm for learning that shines through in this video (looks like he meant the Cuckmere not the Ouse though). Some activities such as the bow and arrow may appear a little ‘risky’, but the Forest School ethos sees great value in teaching children to manage risk appropriately, rather than eliminating it entirely. Following an adder may look a little fool hardy too, but Leo’s natural history knowledge meant that he was aware of the risk and kept his distance so he didn’t stress the snake.
Leo also joined the Wildlife Rangers in the holidays, where he was able to help on practical conservation tasks to meet other criteria necessary for the award.
For us this video is a lovely record of some of Leo’s experiences in nature that have been inspired by our sessions. In turn, many of our participants, not just Leo, routinely inspire us with their passion for learning about and experiencing the natural world. Isn’t this curiosity and enthusiasm the most important ingredient in nurturing the next generation of individuals who will care enough about the natural world to protect it?