Forest School, Dartford, Funded by Dartford Big Local

Day 1- getting to know the site, cooking on the camp fire, playing games, natural den building!

Confidence building, awareness of nature, risk assessing, team work, communication skills, making new friends, physical and mental activity

Day 2- perseverance, confidence building, creativity, fun, physical and mental workouts, eating from the campfire, bananas with chocolate, fine motor skills, risk assessing, team work, games !

We packed all that and more into 4 hours in Dartford today with 10 children!

Day 3: firelighting, new challenging games, whittling sticks, roasting marshmallows, campfire pizzas.

Despite a short shower, the children continued playing, adventuring and trying out new skills.

At the end of the first week these children have learned a lot, more than they realise, which is so important for their mental health and development.

Nwkcp staff and volunteer are very much looking forward to next week’s adventures!…

Day 4: Tree climbing, a first for some, learning different techniques, how to climb safely, helping each other get out of tight spots, confidence building, laughing, tackling fears, taking small risks, observing the tree to plan ahead, checking the strength and quality of the branches first.

Jackets on the campfire…mmm

Conservationists! Children used loppers and secateurs to remove a large patch of blackberry (invasive across this site,) and used a Mel and a tamper as well as saws, to create a dead hedge habitat. Improving one habitat and creating another! Go kids!

Children learnt what was safe and what was not in terms of berries and went forraging for blackberries and made themselves a scrummy blackberry milkshake !

Day 5:

Well mother nature must have known that it was man-made shelter building first thing today!

The leaders even built themselves one (don’t trust weather apps!)

The children all had a tarp, some rope and anything else man made they could utilise.

We helped test their waterproof shelters just for good measure.

The children had clearly learned from the natural shelters they built last week, thinking about style and positioning.

There was great team work and as always lots of laughter!

Once the rain had cleared we had a hot chocolate and cheese and ham toasties, toasted on the fire, followed by baked apples with sultanas.

The children went on a scavenger hunt to get to know the site better, then we finished the day off with a game of 123 where are you? and some massive marshmallows toasted on the fire!

Time is flying and tomorrow is our last day of the summer camp.

The children are cooking for everyone tomorrow and doing their favourite activities from the two weeks

Last day!

Well these children just keep on surprising me with their confidence, ability, team work, mature attitude and sense of fun!

On our last day, the sun shone, we made swords (and had sword fights, obviously!) Lit fires, ate marshmallows dipped in chocolate (that explains the state of their faces) played games, climbed trees.

The children were conservationists for the morning again, removing the pretty but invasive, Himalayan Balsam from the wild flower meadow, before it seeds and spreads, helping our native wild flowers to be pollinated by bees.

Some children can now cook spaghetti Bolognese! And the other half can prepare a sweet desert for the whole group!

The children were so sensible around the fire, used good judgement to tell when things were cooked and used skills some had not used before #lifeskills

Children went home with journals of the things they had tried/enjoyed/accomplished in the week, chocolatey faces and muddy hands and a whole host of new skills, confidence and experiences!

Thank you to all staff and volunteers for hard work, dedication and smiling in the rain

Thanks to Oakfield Primary Academy for helping to recruit the children

Thanks to #Dartfordbiglocal for funding this wonderful project and allowing children to:

✔️attend this course for FREE ✔️be fed lunch for FREE

✔️build resilience, confidence, learn tool skills, learn about how to create and protect habitats, have fun, make friends, learn to cook, how to make and be safe around fire, how to climb safely, problem solve, try again, forraging safely, oh and the list goes on!