Firstly, I would like to say a very BIG thank you. Thank you to all you parents for supporting the work we do at our Free Rangers Holiday Clubs. Especially to the wild children for nagging their parents so they could come back again to play! We put a lot of thought, planning and reflection into the sessions and to have such an amazing response to the 1st Forest School Holiday Club of the year has been frankly overwhelming. I couldn't believe the response or how busy we have been! So thanks, loads.
Right, enough of all that soppy stuff. Let's get down to brass tacks...
February saw the return of our Holiday Clubs in 2016, and what a return. The week was frosty, crisp, occasionally damp and a huge amount of fun. We saw more new faces join the ranks of our outdoor army, which is great. As our club grows larger, I wanted to share our mission statement, which some of you may have seen atop our Holiday Club emails (if you are a member of the coveted mailing list!) Our mission statement at the Holiday Clubs reflects our fundamental position on play:
"At Free Rangers Holiday Club, we believe in simple principles: We believe children should be able to be children, in a safe and challenging environment, built on mutual trust, reflective practice, the right to play freely, and with the children's holistic wellbeing at its core."
We all know it happens: All to often, children are left in front of devices to entertain and sedate as we busy ourselves with our important lives. I'm no technology Luddite but feel saddened when the greatest, multi-faceted, fascinating and fun-filled entertainment lies just beyond their doors and is so readily overlooked as a viable option. Forest School (and outdoor play in general) is a truly powerful thing. I consider myself lucky to bare witness to the bringing together of children, the forging of new friendships or rekindling of old, the opening of doors, and the lighting of fires. The Great Outside provides space to develop autonomously, to play and create alongside, with and through others, to resolve conflicts and build bridges, to overcome problems and conquer challenges, to learn about the mysteries that surround them giving a sense of place and meaning, it provides space for running, climbing, jumping, sliding, muddy knees, scuffed cheeks, scratched arms, to be dangerous and risky, and indeed to learn what risk is and what it means to the individual. Perhaps most importantly it allows for what a child needs most: the freedom and natural space to be a child without the pressure to be anything else.
All this week, through the chilly winds and blue skies, (or the drizzle of Wednesday!) we saw all of the above happen. Each day I plan for the same activities, differentiating slightly for age ranges. Despite the plan, the children choose the activities they want to do; They are much more attentive when they choose to pick an activity that resonates with them in that moment, as opposed to an activity that works for the adults and our timetable. To me, they were the same old activities but for every child on each day, it could be the first time they are experiencing it and they bring their own creativity, skills and personalities to them. However for many of our Wild Children, who are well versed in our clubs and activities, they come not just knowing what to expect but also, the pre-existing knowledge and skill set from which they can build on with further quality experiences.
Basically, my point is that The Outdoors is awesome. But don't take my word for it. Ask your children. Where do you think they would rather be? Where would you rather be? Perhaps you should come and play too?
Do you have any suggestions for our Holiday Clubs? We would love to hear them! Please comment!
These are only a handful of the hundreds of photos I took during the week. To see the rest just click below:
See you at Free Rangers soon.