I have always instinctively known that children should spend lots and lots of time outdoors, running, climbing, exploring and having Enid Blyton style fun. It just seems right for children to be mucky, dishevelled and rosy cheeked so I love to encourage outdoor play whenever possible for my family. So when Bristol Zoo contacted me and invited me to take Super Kid to try their new WildAbout forest school it was a resounding yes from me and from Super Kid.
WildAbout is based on the outskirts of Bristol (just off junction 17 of the M5) in ancient woodland and meadows. We met with four other families and our leader Jackie Roby and headed into the woods. Jackie is a trained teacher and forest school leader with years of experience, her passion for what she does is obvious and she is wonderful with children.
On entering the forest we stop by the listening tree. We close our eyes and stand quietly (yes nine children stood in total silence, I know!) counting all the things we can hear in the woods. Super Kid notices birdsong and I obviously hear the pixies we all know hang out in the woodland. Whilst a fire is lit at the base camp the children build a tipi style den out of branches. After a quick snack stop the children organically find their own fun exploring the woodland and basically having a brilliant time until it’s lunchtime.
After lunch it’s time for some dessert campfire cookery style. I have to admit that despite sitting around many a camp fire in my festival/circus years I have never been more adventurous than a marshmallow on a stick so it was good to try other things. We made toffee apples which were apples stewed on the fire and covered in cinnamon sugar to caramelise on the fire. Basically heaven on a stick!
Jackies takes the children to make ‘smelly cocktails’ and they return with prized cups of mud and leaves which we all declare delicious (not quiet a mojito though I have to admit). Then they spend the remaining hour playing warthogs in the ‘lagoon’ (jumping around in the streams and puddles happily).
Super Kid and I head back to the car and I know we both feel calmer and more full of joy than before we went into the woods. This is what life is all about!
I would personally love to see our children taken out of schools every week and taught in the forests. Since this isn’t likely to happen anytime soon I urge you to take your children out, put on the waterproofs and don’t let the weather put you off. This is the stuff of childhood.
WildAbout run forest school for schools, holiday forest schools and forest school birthday parties. Click here for more information.
*Disclosure: I was invited to attend the forest school free of charge for the purpose of this review. My opinions are my own.