Dirt...For Your Health! Holiday Club Report at Free Rangers

During the end of July and first week of August, we ran our Forest School Holiday Club here at Free Rangers Forest School and had an excellent time of it too! It wouldn't be our Forest School without the curse of rain over our heads, and we had some short sharp downpours, but on a hot sunny day to keep , who doesn't like a little refreshing shower to invigorate, inspire and keep us on our toes! The children have also kept Vince and myself busy, with excellent design ideas for wooden crafts, shelters in the most imaginative of spaces, challenging and dare-devil antics as well as some excellent teamwork and games to boot.

Our clubs tend to be 'boy heavy', but this time round we had plenty of giggly & gregarious girls, ready to get knees muddy, knives carving and clothes smoky which was great to see! We spent our mornings at Free Rangers, exploring the site, looking for invertebrate at the pond, climbing on the logs and playing in the fort, making dens, using magnifying glasses to burn their names into their wooden creations, climbing the trees, riding on the rope swings, exploring the bushes and hedgerows, picking blackberries and stinging nettles for tea, lashed rope-pullies and zip wires, and created their own fires too.

Weapons of various forms featured quite heavily with some children over the weeks, with bows and arrows and pegs being created, and one child deciding a crossbow would probably be the best thing ever. So we built one! Working with the child to design and pick out the resources they would need, exploring the physics behind the contraptions and testing, evaluating and tweaking the design once it had built. Once perfected we decided a contest of Robin Hood persuasion was in order, so created a firing range and targets to test the "fire-ability" of the bow. Great fun. I didn't get competitive at all. Not once. Promise.

After our delicious folded pizza lunches (which we have now perfected I would like to add), we ventured down to the woods for more fun, whether the children were exploring the brook for more life, daring each other to jump over the brook, setting up the rope swing and slack lines, or exploring the bushes and thickets to make camps and bases, the children found plenty to while away the hours. Then it was back to base camp to re-light the fire, toast some marshmallows and indulge in a wee spot of hot chocolate before saying our good-byes.

It's a condition of our time that our children are plugged into their tablets, phones and computers. We use them and children model our behaviour. Don't get me wrong, I think children need some tech-time, especially in an age of ever advancing technological equipment that gets thrust in front us. We are continually required to 'upgrade' our lives in the pursuit of happiness or well-being whether we want to or not, but being able to break away from the stresses and pressures of mainstream living is more important now then ever. Getting a balance is key to both mental and physical stimulation and challenge, from being inside as well as outside and Forest School has been well documented as being a brilliant outlet for outdoor play, learning and development.

We have been running these courses for sometime now, and more and more new faces turn up each time. It's rewarding being able to offer a chance for children to further an obvious love of the outdoors. As our club grows many of our 'veterans' are now reaching the upper age limit. To remedy this we are looking to expand our holiday clubs in 2015 by splitting the age ranges and extending them as well as running a half day "stay and play" for our littlest of rangers (under 5's) too but they are still in the planing stages so do watch this space! We will keep you all in the loop!

The green link below will take you to some pictures we took of the 2 weeks, so do click below, feel free to comment!

>> Summer Holiday 2014 Photos (Flickr) <<

Thanks for reading,