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What a week in the woods! The skill level definitely rose this week as the children learnt about knives (specifically techniques for their safe use) and were challenged to make fires that lasted for 5 minutes in small groups.
Despite the big plans for this session we started on a sour note as when we arrived in the woodland arena some thoughtless people had set fire to one of the benches. The damage they caused was appalling and as a result that area of the bench is unusable due to safety concerns. It was a shock for the children as in our sessions we have been using the motto of ‘Leave no trace’ and this was anything but. We want to teach the children to treat their community green spaces with respect and use their motto, not spoil the areas for others to use.
Putting this sadness behind us we quickly set about our instructions for the session. A third of the group went with Mr Blake for their introduction to knife skills and the rest stayed with Jason to light their controlled fires.
The children showed great enthusiasm for the challenge of knives, they recalled the principle of ‘blood bubble’ well and also took on board the different cutting techniques. We avoided the ‘triangle of doom’ of all the blood vessels in the thighs, making sure to have elbows on knees as we cut in front of us. The children also used the ‘towards your mate’ strategy of legs together and cutting away from you (where the blood bubble becomes even more important). The children managed to overcome challenges of tough sticks, knots in the woods, angling the knife and lots of other things that arose with using them for the first time. Seeing as this was their inaugural session with the blades they did fantastically well!
The children are quite adept at making sparks using the fire steels now and managed to light their cotton wool with ease. Now however, the real challenge arose. They showed a level of perseverance not seen before in the woods by these children as they tried to find thin enough kindling to keep it going for five minutes, damp wood from the floor and not building the fire before it was lit. There were definitely lessons learned going into our last week and one of those is that we need dry wood! A bit of clever thinking or some prior planning and preparation is definitely in order. Bring on the final week of fun and marshmallows!