Author Katie Parker
Woods Mill Schools Officer
We have had a wonderful summer with our Wild Woodies holiday clubs at Woods Mill, Henfield and Stanmer Park, Brighton.
Outside there is a slight chill in the air and I can see a yellow leaf or two fluttering down to the ground in the breeze, so it is hard to believe that the summer is coming to an end, but we have enjoyed glorious sunshine for each of our clubs over the past four weeks.
We had a different environmental theme for each session and planned activities designed to encourage the children to explore the world around them, from discovering tadpoles in the pond yet to develop their jumping legs to observing the cute and furry small mammals living in our wildlife garden.
Although we write lesson plans and provide all the equipment for the activities, we never worry if the session doesn’t go quite to plan. We always pace the activities so that the children have the time and freedom to explore, and make new and interesting discoveries. One example of this is on our walk up to our wildlife garden at Stanmer Park. On our journey we pass through a small stand of huge cedar of Lebanon trees, and in one patch of rough grass the children spotted a cricket, two spiders in their webs and a caterpillar. After this they spent much time rummaging around on their hands and knees hoping to spot more creatures. Growing alongside these trees is a magnificent old beech tree, with several branches bowing down to the ground and rising up again. The children were delighted to find them, and spent half an hour scrambling up and working their way down again.
Everyone’s favourite activity always seems to be learning how to survive in the woodland by lighting a fire using special fire strikers, and I don’t think it’s just the thought of toasting a marshmallow at the end that spurs them on!
The highlight of the summer for me was observing the children becoming more relaxed and confident as the weeks went on, and how they are taken over with fascination when they discover some new creepy crawly. This confirms my belief that children are ‘designed’ to be in the outdoors, and seem to be the most serene and happy when they are surrounded by the wonders of nature.
Thank you to all the Wild Woodies who came along and to all the lovely volunteers who gave up their time to help. I can’t wait for our next wild adventure!