Wilder Woods

Central Somerset Outdoor Learning Partnership

Inclusive Woodland Adventure

by Hannah Aitken - February 20th, 2012.
Filed under: Events.

12 young people with a variety of abilities and additional needs attended Wilderwoods Woodland Adventure day at Drayton Woods on Thursday 16th February. Well supported by Forest school leaders & support carers, the young people spent the whole day in the woods, getting involved in various woodland tasks: making bird feeders, planting trees and helping create a willow screen.
3 young people from Langport came along to buddy up with some of the young people attending.
The day started with an opportunity to take part in an animal stamp trail. This was designed to be followed at the individual pace of different participants, including Katy in a wheelchair. Everyone was very proud of the stamps they had collected.

Pine cones were ‘found’ and collected on the trail and then filled with a bird food mixture. Some loved the different textures involved, others left the sticky bits to others! The filled pine cones were then taken out into the wood and hung on branches for the woodland birds to find.
Meanwhile cooking was getting underway back at the campfire. 17 baked potatoes were buried in the ashes and left to bake as a team set off to plant trees in the wood.
The Woodland Trust has kindly donated a mixture of trees that will eventually bear edible fruit: blackthorn, elder, crab apple & wild rose.
A wonderful tree planting team planted 10 trees, complete with stakes and protective spirals, while others engaged in clearing ivy away from selected trees. One boy just enjoyed sitting on the woodland floor soaking up the peaceful atmosphere. We were lucky to have a sunny and warmish day!

At lunch time young people helped cook and eat: 60 sausages, (plus 6 veggie ones) 15 baked potatoes, a big pan of homemade baked beans and loads toasted bread, all prepared on the campfire.
After lunch we were treated to a wonderful story about the beginning of spring, told by our visiting story teller Amanda. All (but the most hyper-active), listened enthralled, including the boys.
Young people then had the choice of various activities and took part in: peeling sticks and making charcoal around the fire; helping create a beautiful ‘free form’ willow screen in our woodland garden; sawing firewood using the bow saw; using tools to make gypsy flowers, bows and arrows, creating & using a safe target run in the woods;
The older boys were able to go into the wood with the buddies for target practice with only monitoring adult supervision needed. This was a wonderful freedom for both the disabled young people and the buddies involved.
The presence of the Langport buddies worked really well, they took on
mentoring 3 young people, all with varying degrees of Autism. They had to be reminded a few times but they hung on in there, showed care for others and created a brilliant, safe, boys atmosphere. I think those less able really loved it and really felt part of a group.
One very hyperactive autistic girl loved just hanging around the boys when they were using tools. I was very impressed by the maturity of the buddies who were able to accommodate this in a safe, non confrontational way.

The day finished with a review looking at photos of activities and sticking 2 stickers on favourites

Many thanks to Karen, Amanda, Camilla, Kevin, Fiveways School support carers Jane, Mary, John, Emma, Lauren, Alice, and Langport Buddies Matt, Joe and Keiral, for making this day such a success and enabling the group of young people, who normally spend a lot of their time indoors, to ‘Get out in the woods and go wild’!

Also many thanks to the Short Breaks funding team for their continuing support!

Hannah Aitken
Wilderwoods Forest School Leader