The Nature of Childhood has changed…..there’s not much Nature in it..
Our daily itinerary is a well organised and challenging range of activities, all set in a safe environment. Some of the fun stuff we do with school groups….
Getting children outside, walking through the countryside, that’s what the Green Outdoors is all about. We hike along the Thames, across meadows, through forests, up and down hills, all across Great Windsor Park, climbing, jumping, running and giggling the whole way. The children love it, and why not? We follow the tracks made by wildlife, observe trees, grasses, fungi and moss, collect sticks and enjoy plastic duck races down the streams.
Fire lighting & fire safety:
Our HQ has a fabulous fire circle. We make the most of it, teaching our children how to be safe around the fire, enjoying a hot chocolate, silly songs and toasting marshmallows. Our team leaders can be relied upon to organise a proper sing-song once the fire is lit, with rendidtions of ‘Baby Shark’, ‘Boa Constrictor’ and ‘Penguin Come To Tea’ usually sung out of tune. Yikes…
We teach the children the art of shelter building at The Green Outdoors. This is always a hugely popular activity that encompasses technique, teamwork, building skills and lots of dashing about collecting sticks of various lengths. Some of the structures are hugely impressive, others will fall down five minutes after we have gone, either way, it’s a great skill to master and is always fun.
We run string through the trees, split the children into pairs, and blindfold one of them. One child then has to guide the other along the trail explaining any changes to the terrain, or warning them if there is a low hanging branch they might walk into, ouch..! This simple activity teaches coordination, communication, teamwork and trust. Once the blindfold goes on, your senses come alive, it really is quite extraordinary, but don’t bump into that tree…
Our favourite wide games are manhunt, prison break and capture the flag. To the uninitiated, a wide game can just look like two groups of children charging around having a whale of a time. To be honest, that is generally what happens with games played over a wide space, but even if the rules are often forgotten, just letting the children play, really play, is a wonderful sight to behold. Chaaaaaarge….
Nature and bird watching / bug hunts:
Every child should know a Crow from a Jackdaw, a Wood Pigeon from a Collared Dove and a Starling from a Blackbird. If you look long enough, you might even see a Chaffinch, a Ring-Necked Parakeet or a Gold Finch. We love birds, ducks, geese, butterflies, bees, creepie crawlies and anything that moves through the air, among the trees, or on the woodland floor. Looking at the wonders of nature always fascinates children, and we never tire of chatting about wildlife.
Map reading, compasses and orienteering:
Our children have grown up with google maps, but understanding how to read a real map, is still a useful skill. Learning how to follow a compass combined with a few simple map reading skills, opens up a world of adventurous possibilities. We have a number of orienteering courses where the children follow a set route – take 52 paces SW – reach their target, and move to the next bearing. This requires teamwork, problem solving and communication. It’s also great fun, and once the children complete the course, they always want to do the exercise again.
Setting up an obstacle course around the trees, over a log, under a bench and through a pile of leaves is always a popular activity. To a child, any type of obstacle course is a magical labyrinth of challenges that fuels their imagination, improves coordination and aids fitness. Although Mum and Dad won’t thank us, we can’t help noticing that the dirtier they get while crawling across the forest floor, the more they enjoy it..!
Knots and pioneering:
We teach the older children square and diagonal lashings. These knots form a framework that binds two poles together. Sounds boring…? Join four poles together, and the kids can make a football goal, a few more poles placed at right angles, make the perfect hand-made climbing frame. Once the basics have been mastered, the potential for building as a group is endless.
Backwoods Cooking / Dutch Oven:
When children prepare and cook their own lunch, they eat it…. all of it! Backwoods cooking is a hands-on experience that children, and teachers, always enjoy. You would be amazed what happens when you put sliced vegetables, some mince, and half a gravy cube into a tightly wrapped tin foil packet. Placed above some embers on the fire, a mere 20 minutes later, a shepherds pie lunch is ready..yum….
Fun, fun, fun..:
How many children can recognise a tweet that’s a bird call rather than a 140-character sound bite? How many would pick an apple to eat rather than to text on? One of our favourite activities is simply free play. Watching children create a castle, be a super-hero or dig in the mud and pick up worms is wonderful. Just getting young people in The Green Outdoors makes them happy, increases their fitness and helps build friendships.
The imagination of children is limitless, our job is to fuel that imagination, and let it thrive..