Wednesday 18 September 2019

Teaching Bushcraft

Over the summer I had an unusual opportunity come my way. 

I talked about this in a previous post where I was preparing to teach my first ever bush craft lesson.

Since then I've gone on to run three sessions for this local summer school. The first was just two hours long then the others were whole afternoons.

They involved a fair bit of prep to get ready for and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of activities to keep them entertained and so I could change things depending on how well they were going or if they suited the group.

Each session was different but along the same lines.

The first activity I got them to do was to make some bannock bread. To do this they had to get their hands into mixing the flour and milk, I always find it funny to see which ones enjoy this and which ones don't! Once they'd spent some time kneading it they then have to prepare their willow sticks by pealing the bark from them (with veg pealers as a safe way of doing it).

The bread is then wrapped, snake like, around the sticks and held over the fire to cook slowly. Of course it's all good fun and a group binding exercise, some bread was perfect while others fell off into the fire causing much laughter! I had to fish a few out with welding gloves and cook them as ash cakes.

The kids love this and for some it was the first time they'd made food for themselves. One of the Chinese teachers even said she'd never cooked before!

They then had a break before coming back up to me at the forest school area. Here I put some of what I'd learnt in scouts into practice, we played some simple games.
One was the ladder game, where they sit in pairs with their legs together and have to run up and down the ladder. Another was "Tied in knots" where they children have stand in a circle and hold random hands then untangle themselves. These types of games make the kids laugh and interact with each other, which is great as many were only a few days into a new country with lots of people they didn't know.

Then I had a load of ropes set up and talked them through some basic knots. They all seemed really good at this and could pick it up straight away. A great one they enjoyed was the "Handcuff" knot as they could tie up their new friends! They also made some lassos and had the task of removing a log from the circle.

I had some great luck with this one as when demonstrating I landed on the log first time! To much amazement from everyone there! 

They also did "Move the Bomb" where they have to lift a log with three lengths of rope without touching it or letting it drop to the floor. A great one to build teamwork and coordination. I had one team with particular perseverance and they wouldn't give up until they did it.

I finished with some fire lighting where they got to try some different methods of starting a fire. We used a ferro rod for this and they loved doing it, even a few that were afraid had a go with a little bit of encouragement. And on one session there was even time for a little bit of den building!

So it was a great experience for me. I learnt lots that I can bring to Scouts and also about dealing with a larger group than I normally deal with. I hope the kids enjoyed it as well, I think it was very different to what some of them are used to so hopefully they'll remember it.

Ever had to teach a hobby or a different subject to a group of people?

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