It’s always easier to provide a PR service when you get to know a client’s product or service first-hand. So it was that I recently found myself in the middle of the woods, at the Exmouth Forest School. This is one of several sites the group runs in Devon, to deliver its innovative outdoor ethos for education, experiences and training. The course I was joining was Learning Beyond the Classroom, aimed at teachers and volunteers working at primary and secondary schools.
This course aims to build confidence for teachers wanting to take classes outside, giving them ideas, practical skills and guidance on risk assessment. It’s held outdoors, unsurprisingly, with a a central campfire and overhead tarpulin in case of rain.
Just as I arrived, the course attendees were about to embark on a creative task – making faces out of mud! They used sticks and leaves they found in the woods to create the face, and soon discovered that it was more practical to make the face on a tree stump than an upright tree. Something called gravity…. Other activities included ‘ninja sticks’ which caused much hilarity and more than a litttle competitiveness. Interwoven with the activities was serious discussion around the campfire, which gave me a real insight into how teachers can really use the outdoors to encourage learning.
While I was there a toddler group was also taking place, giving me a great opportunity to have a sneak peek of children having a huge amount of fun in natural woodlands. And not just the children, but their parents too.
I’m really taken with what The Outdoors Group wants to achieve, and to be working with them as they expand and develop. From the work I’ve done so far, it’s clear that getting children outside has a huge beneficial impact on their wellbeing, development and social skills.