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A Personal Development & Learning Journey

Posted by FSLI on January 10, 2017

When I was asked to go on the foest school leader training my first thought was to run for the hills - I really didn't want to do it but ended up on the course regardless!!

My first day arriving at Shortenills wondering how I got myself in this mess - walking in and meeting Tracy and the other ladies on the course I couldn't help but think "oh great I'm the thick one of the group".  There were lots of teachers so I was a little intimidated as well as a LSA who seems to know everything about everything! I'm wanting to go home but what will they say at school, I'm stuck here.

I was asked to colour in a man on a tree, thought great I can do this.  I picked the man sat on the floor facing the other way as this was appropriate for the situation.

The journey then began... got lots of information which wasn't so bad - YET - I thought.  When Tracy was giving all the rules of forest school I wondered why I hadn't been to forest school before and if there was a reason for it.  Turned into Tracy's number one fan, I'm starting to relax a little, the nerves are better and can't quite remember it all but felt supported and less like a failure before I even start.

Then... ASSIGNMENT  Oh no, what to do now! Worry kicking in.  Went home and without going through all my notes I did it!  I can't believe it but I did it.

Second day - wow health and safety to start.  What can I say, it wasn't that bad either.  After an information packed morning we got to go outside.  Starting to get friendly with others on the course while enjoying base camp and some free time.  Starting to feel positive towards the whole thing, I might just get through this unscathed.

End of the second day we have am massive assignment tonight.  I really want to get it done but am a little overwhelmed! There seems to be an awful amount of work.

Day three - realising that forest school and the responsibility is massive.  The morning was spent in the classroom looking at schemers which I found very interesting.  I am learning a lot and found out that I am an audio learner.  Not sure if I'm surprised or not as Im not great at remembering things so I am always thinking of ways to remember.

I must admit I am not an outdoors person however I am thoroughly enjoying being out in the wood and learning to whittle.  Knives are not my thing at all but whittling is like therapy.  I can do knots aswell, I'm really surprising myself! I can't believe that this was another area I was worried about.  It is dawning on me that,yes this is fun,but will it be when it's me and 30 children!

Tracy is amazing, she's a natural and knows so much and I can't imagine being half as good.

The next day I am feeling apprehensive and not sure why.  Could be workload, spending the whole day outside or is it because after today that's it for a couple of months.  Met Ali today, again she is amazing and knows her stuff.  A little worried now that the children might know more than me!

Looking at the trees and fungus is fun, fun fun!  I'm not even joking - having a great time.  Got to make a beautiful mallet (which I can't wait to show off when I get home).  Got to use a bill hook which isn't bad for someone who hates blades.  Also made a pencil and a picture frame, not bad for a days work. I am getting lots of ideas for my site and loving being outside.

I am thinking of all the homework and not coming to shortenills might be putting it off and have a panic later, it will be harder to keep on top of it once we leave here.  Will be looking forward to December for the skills days.

Skills Days  -  Long awaited where I got to meet Chris.  Went into the woods and recapped evergreen and deciduous forests.  Had a life lesson as well looking at male and female hollies and nettles ( very nice).  Had a great time and then started our fires ready for a very wet cook up!  The ground and branches were wet as were everybody else.  It was loads of fun though.  Had a lovely soup to start followed by baked potatoes and fruit crumble and custartd for pudding ( I felt like a pudding by the time we were finished!).

Made a shelter after lunch which went really well and managed to sell it to a tough crowd! I feel like I can take on anything at this point. Can't wait till tomorrow and get making a mallet and maybe a set of wind chimes.

Starting our final day with some coppicing which went well and remembered to rub mud on the cut branch! This was followed by first aid which I wasn't looking forward to as I forget everything but it was stuff I knew.  Looking forward to doing kelly kettles as tea is always a winner.

Enjoyed getting the tiny fire for kelly kettle.  It was very satisfying loking after yourself in the wilderness. I decided to make a mallet and a welcome sign out of discs - will have to finish at home though.

I feel a bit like a changed person since starting this course.  I've gone from dreading the course and really not wanting to be outside to now loving every minute of it and I feel sad at this being the end.  I want to show my youngest son all the fun stuff I have been lucky enough to learn.  I am excited and enthusiastic about forest school and will be telling everybody if the chance comes along to do the course then take it.  It is an eye opener about yourself as well as outdoor learning.  It is therapy for all who attend including the leader.  Love it.