I’m standing in the car park at Brandon Marsh, telling parents that their teenagers will be with them shortly after taking part in our Call of the Wild photoshoot.
The truth is that they are reluctant to leave the campfire where the session has concluded because they’ve had such a good time playing survival games with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust youth worker Matt Cox. So we’re running a good half an hour late and when they do appear, I explain to parents, they may not be recognisable as their faces are covered in charcoal. Camouflage was essential.
More than 35 young people from Playbox Theatre gave up their time to join the photoshoot so we could take pictures and video to promote our two-week Call of the Wild summer programme for 11 to 17-year-olds from Coventry, Nuneaton and Bedworth.
Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we’ll be offering pre-teens and teenagers a great opportunity to swap their gaming and i-gadgets for an entirely different kind of data roaming. We’re aiming to lure them out of their online and virtual screen world with a chance to learn hands-on bushcraft and survival skills.
It will be free to take part and if the enthusiasm of Playbox Theatre is anything to go by, it’s set to be a popular programme; with just 15 places available each week, we’ll be running a competition inviting would-be participants to tell us via email or social media how they’d benefit from signing up and whether they have what it takes to survive our Call the Wild!
The lucky winners will work with our ecological, education and survival experts to develop the skills needed to be self-sufficient and comfortable in a wilderness environment. Setting up camps, cooking on an open fire, learning to track animals, mastering the art of stealth and being able to identify useful species: all of this and more will be offered in a tightly-packed schedule of fun, outdoor tuition, teamwork, games and exercises. There will also be a celebration camp-out on the final weekend.
Nuts about nature
On a recent visit to St Mary and St Benedict Catholic Primary School, it was great to see the children having such a lot of fun at our weekly after-school Nature Club session.
Funded thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, it was a reminder of just how vital our £66,000 grant from this organisation has been in providing outdoor learning for local schools. Without this support, the school would not have been able to fund the sessions from its budget.
Located in Hillfields in inner city Coventry, many of its pupils live in the high-rise flats which overlook its outdoor spaces and when our Nature Club sessions first started there after Christmas, only one of the children taking part owned a pair of wellies.
The school decided to buy some so each child had equal access to everything the sessions have to offer – giving the children a fantastic opportunity to spend time outdoors learning about nature and having fun playing. The children no longer need their wellies, as the weather improves, but they are still totally nuts about nature! When the sessions re-started after Easter, the vast majority of the original group of children who took part signed up again.
As we were leaving, there were eager questions buzzing around among the goodbyes: “Do you really have to go now, can’t you stay longer?” Followed by: “Please will you come next week?” To the reply that yes, we’ll be back, we have our reward for another session delivered, another set of children inspired. The smiles are priceless.
Paula Irish, Communications Officer