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What an exciting week this was for Hazel class. We went up with the warning of possible wintry showers and the weather forecasters were not wrong!
The session started in the usual orderly fashion where the class collected the equipment to carry to the valley and, upon their arrival, raised the shelter with little fuss. We even put up a separate shelter due to the forecast that was checked before school. Both shelters were raised to a much higher standard than the first week with ropes being tighter and knots (seemingly) more secure.
How wrong we were! We’d not been in the valley 15 minutes before we felt the first spatterings of rain which quickly became hail. This then became an icy torrent and shouts of, “Get under the shelters!” rang across the valley! The class were huddled together for what must have been less than a minute before the wind picked up and whipped the main shelter so hard that one of the corner ropes ripped off! The flapping fabric then started tossing icy slush over our patch of the valley, including the squealing children! Luckily we were able to retie the ropes and raise the shelter again to brave the rest of the hail but it was certainly a very cold first for Forest School at Laira Green.
Once the weather had cleared again the children set about helping with the fire, a couple of them really put a shift in a we soon had a roaring blaze for children to warm the hands by (following a safety recap of course). This soon became the theme for the session with all children having the opportunity to use the fire steels and light cotton wool in order for them to be able to create their own fires next week. If they could master the ignition stage then it would be a much easier task next week when it comes to their group fires. There were many successes and a few failures but what impressed me most was the attitude (which we try to encourage in the woods) of resilience and supporting each other. Children would share their fire steels if some were having difficulty, keep on trying when at first they didn’t succeed and use words of encouragement to keep people’s spirits up.
Along with this fire lighting there was also a lot of den making, shelter building and creative exploration going on in the valley. Given the skills and equipment the children happily took rope and tarpaulins away to build their own shelters in their own way, just in case another hail storm was on the way!
All in all it was a wet and cold week but one where the children were able to face a challenge head on, deal with the outcome and move forwards. There may have been many squeals but there were no tears and many smiles. Here’s hoping for milder weather next week!