On Friday 13th May 2016 The Wilderness Foundation UK welcomed twenty five Year 9 students from Moulsham High School to our site at Chatham Green.  The aim of the day was for the students to learn about the world of work and gain information about our job roles and how the charity operates

Helium hula hoopWe had a fully packed day which started with a briefing from Sue Harrison, Education Officer and Rosie Carpenter, TurnAround Essex Project Co-ordinator who spoke about their jobs and the day ahead.  Stefanie Peck, a previous TurnAround Graduate and currently a student social worker also volunteered with the group for the day.
Following introductions our first mini task involved some icebreaker challenges to get the group moving around and talking with one another.
Stream clearingThe first main task of the day was a choice of conservation work which included a tree audit, clearing a stream of debris or litter picking the woodland.  The majority of the group decided to clear the stream and worked so hard they were able to clear double what we had hoped for!  A group of students also decided to litter pick and managed to collect a substantial amount of litter from the woodland, which included shells from historic clay pigeon shooting.  As part of their day the students also had to interview staff about their job roles and gain advice about entering the world of work.  As well as interviewing the Wilderness Foundation UK staff, some students also chose to interview their school staff which they seemed to really enjoy!
Journey stick prepBefore we stopped for lunch, we took some time for the students to try a mindfulness activity which involved them finding a spot in nature to quietly reflect on their day so far.  This proved to be a very popular activity and comments from the students included that they felt ‘peaceful’, ‘relaxed’ and ‘able to think’.  We then showed students how to make a journey stick which resembled activities that they enjoyed or things that they felt they were good at.  Some of the group enjoyed this task so much they continued into lunch.
Following a short lunch break we moved onto a survival task which saw the students working in small teams as allocated by their school staff.  The brief was to recover essential items that had been hidden on-site and to build a shelter that could withstand rainfall.  This was a great task and it was interesting to see how each team approached the task in a completely different way.   Each shelter was tested with the other groups watching on in keen anticipation and we are pleased to report that each shelter stood up to the challenge!
Our final activity was fire lighting and each student had the task of learning to use a flint and steel to light a fire and then to maintain it for ten minutes.  There were various levels of experience within the group and a number of students stood out for their ability to be patient and tend to their fires to keep them alight.
Before we said goodbye to the group, we completed a closing activity whereby we discovered what everyone enjoyed the most and what they had learned.  The most popular activity seemed to be clearing the stream (conservation task) and shelter building (survival task) with several students also mentioning the time to reflect (mindfulness) as something that they particularly enjoyed.  As a staff team we really enjoyed the day and it was great to be able to spend time with the students and allow them to have an insight into our jobs.  As well as the students seeing how we organise activities as a staff team, the day also provided an opportunity for the young people to experience working with new people and reflecting on their own personal skill sets.
If you would like to bring a school or youth group to Chatham Green for a structured programme of personal development activities or curriculum based learning with a focus on food, farming and nature please contact us.