The Community Sacred Fire & Fire Quest

The Community Sacred Fire

Are you or your child ready to participate in a Fire Quest Rites of Passage? Do you want to come and support the village and Sacred Fire, whilst learning about this ancient ceremony?

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Join our Community Sacred Fire & Fire Quest Weekend

The Community Sacred Fire is a special container which holds space for people to connect on many levels. It is a place to remember departed loved ones, to honour the ancestors, to remember our ancient relationship with the elements, to reconnect with people, to share stories, to laugh, to cry, and to return to inner harmony. It is also a place remember the blessings of life, and to remember to live in service to the future generations.

 

 

The Community Sacred Fire is a multi generational event held at times of need. That need can include times of deep sorrow and times of great joy and celebration. It is a place that allows the safe processing for grief; and it can also be a focal point for a community during Rites of Passage.

In September 2016, we are offering a weekend of Community Sacred Fire teachings for people wanting to learn more. The weekend will be led by Salvatore Gencarelle.

People will be introduced to this powerful container and some of its applications. As part of these teachings we will be exploring our relationship with the natural elements (fire, water, stone, and air) and how to combine these elements into the event. On Saturday September 17th we will hold an overnight Community Sacred Fire for all those attending. The fire will be tended throughout the night allowing a time for people to connect. This Community Sacred Fire is being held in support of people doing a Rite of Passage called a Fire Quest.   We will also participate in an Inipi, more commonly known as a Sweat lodge – all ages welcome.

The Fire Quest

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Taking place in September 2016, Fire Quest Weekend & Sacred Fire for adult, young people and families.

Many people in the modern world so desperately want to live lives full of connection and love. Yet we were never given the opportunity to go through authentic Rites of Passage to support our growth out of childhood. People now find themselves locked into a childlike state of reactions and views.

 

 

 

How can we help ourselves and the next generation of children to become well grounded, completely connected individuals?

Historically, the role of indigenous cultures has been to ensure that each community member develops into a healthy and happy “Human Being”. The ancient cultures hold a deep understanding of the life stages, as well as how to meet the challenges that come with these life stages. They had processes to facilitate the transitions between the stages. Individuals were enabled to unfold and blossom into their own personalities and gifts, with responsibility, aliveness and incredible joy. This knowledge and understanding was necessary in order to prevent people from stagnating in their personal development and getting stuck in loops of adolescent behaviour, something we can often observe in modern societies.

The Fire Quest is a Rite of Passage which was historically used as a means to mark and support the transition from childhood into young adulthood. The quest traditionally occurs during the formative teenage years, approximately between 12-17 years of age. The quest involves a person being honoured by the community, sent out from a Community Sacred Fire into nature to tend a personal fire throughout the night. During the night the quester reflects on their life, their gifts, their wounds, and learns directly from their interaction with the fire and nature. During the night the quester is supported by their family and the people at the Community Sacred Fire. In the morning the quester is welcomed back to the Community Sacred Fire where they share their experiences from the night.

In the modern world any adult undertaking this Quest will gain deep insight into themselves and their relationship with all of life.

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Taking place 16th – 18th September 2016 with Salvatore Gencarelle

 

Please click here to find out about our Community Sacred Fire & Fire Quest Weekend, taking place from 16th – 18th September 2016, for adults, families and young people.

 

 

Date: 16th – 18th September 2016.
Location: Laughton, East Sussex.
Who should attend: Adults, families (including siblings) and young people (aged 12 – 17 years).

 

An Award Winning Woodland Project for Children and Young People with Learning Disabilities and their Families

A Woodland Celebration!

Circle of Life Rediscovery (CLR) and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Learning Disability / Family Intensive Support Service (CAMHSLD/FISS) held a Celebration Day on 31st March to mark the huge success of their three year project.

“We have had a great three years working together supporting families, siblings, parents and grandparents to get outdoors, find peer support, discover new skills, have fun and relax.” Marina Robb, Founder of Circle of Life Rediscovery.

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The Woodlands Project was awarded Silver at the 2015 Sussex Partnership Positive Practice Awards and Highly Commended in the national Innovation in Child, Adolescent and Young People’s Mental Health Award presented by the Positive Practice Collaborative.

 

The Issues

Children and young people with learning disabilities often have fewer opportunities in life and their families find it harder to spend time together as a family, building the kind of memories we all expect to find in our photo albums. Furthermore, families attending our project rarely get out and some have withdrawn into their homes completely. The reasons can be shocking; being asked to get off a bus because their autistic child is anxious and making noises to communicate their distress, or other adults asking parents to remove their child from the play area because they don’t understand the non-verbal communication being used. These daily experiences of prejudice, judgement and sometimes, abuse, make day to day life even more challenging.

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These are the issues CLR and CAMHSLD/FISS decided to tackle in a programme which was specially designed, in partnership with families. The project enables them to enjoy a whole day together, to relax and have fun in each other’s company and to explore their capabilities, talents and strengths both as individuals and as a family unit. Due to the complex needs of the young people attending the activities, a very high level of support is put in place with each family being supported by one staff member from CLR and one from CAMHSLD/FISS.

 

So far 150 people have attended and benefited from this project over the past three years. Learning has happened on all sides. Families have gained woodland skills and can now build and cook on a campfire, some have learnt safe saw and drill use. Families have learnt that they can access the outdoors and that when they do, they feel much calmer and more resilient. Parents and siblings have met other people who share their experiences and found that sharing their stories is deeply supportive.

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We know that there is very little provision for families to stay together as a whole unit when there is a child with a learning disability. Most of the support offered consists of respite which splits the family up and they have told us how limiting this is. We have also learnt that families that are already coping with high levels of distress are subject to daily experiences of rejection and threat in their own communities. And finally, we have seen first-hand, the healing power of getting together with peers in woodland. As one parent said, “the trees are drinking my stresses.”

 

The Project

The Woodland Project aims to make a relaxing, whole family day a reality; stretching young people to learn new skills and discover new talents and supporting parents so they could find peace, and create fun memories of their time together. Typically a day begins with songs around a main fire before tuition in building a cooking fire is given. After lunch, woodland crafts are the order of the day with young people learning how to safely use a saw or drill. Throughout, access to hammocks and swings provides quieter, reflective spaces if children feel over stimulated by the new sensations available to them.

The project seeks to challenge some of the assumptions that limit the experience of young people with learning disabilities. In addition the goal is to equip adults with the necessary skills and key safety knowledge to give them the confidence to make choices to go outdoors independently of the project.

See our wonderful film about our Woodland Project:

Photos from our Woodland Days can be seen here.

Photos from our Celebration Day can be seen here.

Feedback from a parent

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“We had a brilliant day and felt very relaxed. The children loved the woods and the quiet life and thoroughly enjoyed on how to make camp fires and cook on a camp fire. This environment is really perfect and safe for children, who love the outdoors and learning new things. The staff were brilliant and made us feel very welcome and very supportive. Would love to come back again as the day was great and the kids were kept busy from beginning to end.”

 

 

Quote from Clinical Psychologist

“Spending time in a new environment, away from usual routines, provided a space for the family to interact with each other in a different way. As parents have support from staff at the woodland they are able to relax and engage with their children in a way that is not always possible in everyday life. Parents were also able to connect with other parents. This is not usually easy for parents or carers of a child with a learning disability as transport is often arranged to take the child to school, so they do not have the opportunity to meet and talk to other parents.”

“As a clinician the day provided a unique opportunity to get to know the family in a way that is not possible in the course of normal clinical work. It facilitated relationship building with the family as well as providing an opportunity to observe family dynamics in a completely natural, unobtrusive way.”

Feedback from parents:

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“I can’t express enough how much relaxing, healing and peace there has been for me today.”

 

 

20150613_105416 “This is not the kind of place we would normally come to so it has been a nice change. It makes me think we will come back. You forget it doesn’t have to be structured such as a playground. It has been good that we have been outdoors rather than in a play centre or community hall.”


WHY NATURE MATTERS

Nature has an extraordinary way of bringing out the best in people.

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Circle of Life Rediscovery bases all its work around nature. It now has information gathered from over 15 years of why nature matters. The belief that change comes with the right environment to be able to try new things is at the heart of this nature work.

It’s a simple thing to go out into nature, and yet so many people don’t think of it or because they don’t do it often are afraid of it. We use it to support our work and in return we feel nature has exceptional ways of teaching so much that can be used in everyday life.

Find out more about our Funded work here.

SUPPORT OUR PROJECT

If you would like to make a donation to support the future of our Woodland Days, please click here or contact us at info@circleofliferediscovery.com. Any funds received will help to provide much needed disabled toilets, containers for tools and temporary structures for shelters.

Leaky Buckets GIG on 29th and 30th April

The Leaky Buckets are back at Iford Village Hall on 29th and 30th April with a new set of songs to get you on your feet! The evening includes a cash bar, barbeque and a collection to support our Funded Projects. Please come along – we hope to see you there! Entry is FREE but must be pre-booked. Please see details here.

Circle of Life Rediscovery would like to thank to NHS England for supporting us over the last 3 months; to SPARK for their Life More Ordinary Grant support and to all the families, staff and people who helped shape this project.

About Circle of Life Rediscovery
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Circle of Life Rediscovery is a Community Interest Company based in Ringmer, East Sussex that provides funded and bespoke learning with nature experiences and training for young people, adults, families, schools and organisations.

Our team of outdoor Learning specialists are passionate about nature and our aim is to share our knowledge and expertise with the next generation while helping to boost self-esteem, confidence, communication skills as well as physical development.

About Sussex Partnership

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Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust provides NHS mental health, specialist learning disability and substance misuse services across and beyond Sussex.

Learning with Nature – Reflections, Thoughts & Reviews

“This book offers a chance to the youth of today and the nature of tomorrow. It has a wealth of structured, tried and tested projects, ideas and games all designed to allow children to breathe fresh air and engage personally with a real world where their minds and bodies can develop and bloom, burst into life and inspire them to love life.”
Chris Packham, BBC

Learning with Nature, special offer available now!

 

“This wonderful new book aims to connect children with nature. Through a broad range of outdoor activities and games, young people are encouraged to engage their senses and interact with nature. This not only leads to a better understanding of the natural world but can also contribute to much broader agendas such as personal and social development.

 

Most importantly, the activities are fun. It is through enjoyment and understanding that people will want to conserve and care for their environment and so I encourage everyone to give the book a try.”
Andy Naylor, John Muir Award England Manager

“Whether you are a parent or educator, Learning with Nature is full of ideas for fun in the great outdoors. It caters for children and young people of all ages and abilities – and comes with clear instructions and illustrations. So grab a copy, get your boots on, fill your backpack and head to your nearest wild (or not so wild) space for some playful adventures.”
Tim Gill, Author of No Fear: Growing Up In A Risk Averse Society

Learning with Nature, special offer available now!
“Learning with Nature is fittingly described as “A how-to guide to inspiring children through outdoor games and activities”. Featuring a foreword from Chris Packham, the book is packed with dozens of activities and games as well as survival skills and a brief note on looking after nature. The activities, some of which are split by season, are varied and suitable for families of all sizes.

 

We especially enjoyed the Walnut Boats activity and the Swallow Migration activity, which involves children simulating the epic journey swallows make with their own home-made birds.

The games section of the book is perfect for youth groups or schools, as the majority of games require 4 or more children to play and many are suitable for groups of 8 or larger.
Learning with Nature is an excellent resource for youth groups or schools looking for some inspiring ideas for outdoor pursuits. In terms of activities, the book is great for families, though some of the games will require your children’s friends to come along!”
Farming & Countryside Education (FACE)

“Beautifully presented as a ‘how-to’ guide to inspire children, Learning with Nature is aimed at families, schools, youth groups and anyone working with children. The activities are suitable for ages 3 to 16 and will help develop practical skills, awareness and respect for the natural world. An initial flick through reveals great images and a layout of activities that is easy to follow.
Reduction in Roaming Radius
The introduction gives context in the form of an intriguing diagram showing an ‘extinction of experience’ revealed by the decline in roaming radius from home of 8 year olds from the 1920s (6 miles) to 2007 (700 yards), followed by the benefits of increased time in nature.

 

There’s also advice on how to make the most of the book through the art of questioning to nurture curiosity, and a section on Looking after Nature which sets out the interplay between nature and people to allow both to flourish. I was thinking hard before I got to the activities!

The activities are set out in 4 themes: games, naturalist, seasonal and survival skills. There’s a large range and each activity has clear advice on resources needed (often none, which I like), number of people, age, duration and how to do it. A note on variations and links to similar or complimentary activities is helpful. A side box titled Invisible Learning gives an idea of what we might expect when using the activity, advice I found either reinforced my own ideas or alerted me to new possibilities.

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If the book lacks anything it’s the benefits of using the outdoors from a formal education perspective. However I think those working in this context will easily recognise ways of using these activities in their work. This book is much more than a collection of great activities. It has an aim we can all buy into to forge “a heartfelt relationship [with nature] that will renew and inform our culture, creating love and respect for the natural world.”

 

 

This is an excellent book for parents, teachers and youth leaders alike looking to inspire young people with nature. Get a copy and head outdoors!”
Graham Watson, John Muir Award Cumbria Manager

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“I picked this book up thinking that it would be another ‘nice to have but probably not essential’ addition to our Learning through Landscapes library. I glanced briefly at the introduction expecting to be presented with the usual list of academics’ justifications of why learning and playing outside is good, quoting myriad obscure references with long names and concepts that mean little when you are thinking – ‘shall we go outside today to do something?’. I was very pleasantly surprised indeed.

 

The book has clearly been written by people who have their own clear, well developed and straightforward understanding of why challenging, fun and educational activities in the outdoors are not only good, they are essential, enjoyable and inspirational.

Simple concepts presented in beautifully illustrated pages in a very non-patronising style. For example – there are assumptions made that practitioners already know how to make things like bread dough and if they don’t, they can easily look it up – we don’t want to spend money on a book that tells us how to make dough – we want to spend money on a book that takes bread dough outside for an interesting experience. This book does that. I have to confess I went completely off task at one point as I was trying to remember if I had any essential oils hanging around so I could try sniff-tracking with them or if we had any suitably shaped wood for the burning bowls.

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Many of these ideas are new or are presented in a new context which is a refreshing change from reading about 50 things I was doing ten years ago with children. Many of them use risk and adventure as vehicles for effective experiential learning meaning that these activities will appeal to older children as well as the younger ones and indeed many adults.  I can see these activities turning up in LTL training sessions.

Some activities will need to be delivered by people who have experience of the safe handling of tools such as bow-saws and palm drills. Others can be safely delivered by anyone who can be trusted with a spot of clay or some melted candle-wax.

Not all of the activities require resources or tools at all. Some make new games out of old concepts, others do require specific items but these are generally not hard to source. The language of the book is gentle and thoughtful, we are asked to harvest sticks of wood ‘respectfully’, one activity refers to the ‘heartbeat of a cow’. A bug hotel suggests that we make ‘diverse rooms for the insects’ rather like some sort of more boutique or art-house style bug hotel, a cut above your cheaper end motel. The references to invisible learning ensure that no activity fails to hold its own and everything can contribute to effective teaching and learning. The book has a sense of a refined collection to it not a random gathering of ideas. My over-whelming feeling when looking through the ideas is that I really, really want to try some of these. Some of the artistic creations are very beautiful.

And if I am this excited about it then I am sure others will be too. Be nice to yourself – invest in this harvest of ideas, it’s actually really worth it. Isn’t it time you got out more?” Juno Hollyhock, Executive Director, Learning through Landscapes

“By my bed I have a pile of books I dip into every now and then for a bit of inspiration. This book is now top of my pile; a must have resource for outdoor fun. Learning with Nature is full of activities, games to get children outside, keep them motivated and most importantly of all having fun. The book is split up into sections covering games, nature activities, seasonal activities and survival skills. The book is straightforward to navigate and gets the right balance of pictures and text, which can be all too often overlooked in books. This book gets in just right. The information is uncomplicated to follow and easy to digest, with top tips and interesting facts throughout the book.

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The activities are well structured, though some of the activities work best with groups, but can be adapted for the family. I like the extra  information provided on what’s being learnt and provides some inspiration on questions you can ask your child to enhance their learning. We decided to try out a few of the activities.

 

We had a great fun trying out these activities on a woodland walk and enhanced a walk into something much more exciting and educational for the children.”
Shell, Get Out with the Kids

Learning with Nature – special offer available now for Christmas, click here to purchase and find out more!

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

Learning with Nature

In our time of fast-paced, exam-pressured, high-tech culture, where does learning with nature have a place?

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When adults are asked to recall a time in their youth when they were happiest, invariably they refer to times spent outdoors and with friends. Our clever screen world keeps us busy and on the go, but does not help us to communicate, feel loved, gain the satisfaction of the quiet mind, and relax. Time with others in nature does exactly that — and much, much more!

Engaging and Thriving
We need an education that includes learning and understanding how the world is much more than human-centered, and that instills in us a sense of belonging and curiosity about life. When subject learning takes place outside, it becomes embodied and has greater meaning. Our work aims to bring the subjects outside while building meaningful relationships with the natural world. For example, a tree becomes a living being with its own characteristics and often with healing properties. The class “builds a tree” using all the parts: the bark, xylem, cambium, sapwood, heartwood, roots, and leaves. Real experiences build empathy, a hallmark of a healthy human.

In language arts classes, sensory description supports a good piece of creative writing and generally helps the reader to be “in” the piece. If we ask students to describe what things smell and sound like, their attention is drawn to notice the smells of soil, how rough some tree bark may feel, or the sound of the wind through branches. One consequence of this sensory focus is improved, descriptive writing full of imagination — with an added bonus of high marks on writing assignments!

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Young children thrive outdoors. They develop their sense of balance by moving, not by sitting down, and exploring the world around them. We all need encouragement to take risks, building up our resilience and confidence — the skills that will equip us all our life.

We live in a time where disconnection is rife. It is common for 14-year-olds to not know that a book is made from a tree or that the fuel for their school bus comes from the earth long before it comes from the petrol station.

We have taken hundreds of young people out into nature for a one-time afternoon session, overnight or weeklong camping trips, and regular on going woodland programs. We have worked with young people from a wide diversity of backgrounds. The satisfaction of seeing them transform from indoor kids afraid of nature, recoiling at the yuck factor and the thought of getting dirty, to brave young adventurers diving into bushes to hide from the “eagle eyes” that will be looking for them in “3, 2, 1…” makes it all worth the effort.

Outdoor Learning
There are hundreds of activities that we could suggest, but here are a couple of the simplest, most accessible, and effective.

Try a scavenger hunt in an outdoor area. In small groups or in pairs, children must seek different objects that you have written on their list, such as:

A feather
An acorn
Something that’s been eaten
Something that smells
A seed
Something that’s rough
Something that’s heavy
Something yellow
An animal hair

Depending on your age group, it can be fun to add objects that engage the imagination even more, such as something that could be a gnome’s hat. Once many objects have been gathered, you could use them in many ways depending on your aims and objectives. You could talk about classification and group the objects according to whether they belong to the animal, mineral, or plant kingdoms. You might keep some of the more robust items in a bag and have a child feel inside, pick one up, and describe what he or she can feel while the others guess, thus developing vocabulary and understanding of adjectives.

20150523_142734Before launching into any biology around botany, plant life, and transpiration, it can be a fun challenge to try doing leaf puzzles with your class. This is just like a jigsaw puzzle. We start by choosing a leaf that is at least as long as an adult’s palm and tearing it into four or more pieces (depending on age and ability of your students). Give each child a single torn leaf and break the class into pairs. Partners trade leaves and try to put the puzzle back together again. Children often soon notice how the veins can help them in rearranging their leaves and detecting differences in the upper and lower sides. Just be mindful not to include any leaves that could be toxic. Common examples that work well include hazel, lime, oak, and dandelion.

In the end, we hope that our children will be healthy and happy, and that they’ll have a good future. It’s unusual to hear people ask whether nature has a place in education. How can it not? The most important question of our time is how we can look after the natural world, because we need so much from it to sustain us. The future belongs to a generation who figures out how to do this.

Marina Robb and Victoria Mew. Authors of ‘Learning with Nature’.

Whose Tracks? Answers here!

Did you have fun with the kids guessing who made the tracks on our recent activity sheet?

Click here to view our answer sheet!

Keep your eye on our emails to download the next FREE activity sheet – coming soon just in time for the Easter break. Packed with quizzes, games and guess the egg!kids-walk-wood-parent

Need Easter holiday ideas? Why not come along to our family day on 7th April. Fun in the woods for the entire family including games, activities and crafts. Take some time out and connect with nature, inspire your children and most importantly – have fun!

 

Holiday, Family Activities and Camps

Keep your family entertained this Easter by attending our holiday and family days! We offer bespoke days in the Sussex countryside aimed at getting your children outdoors to learn new skills, make things, meet new people and have fun whilst enjoying the great outdoors. Please note spaces are limited so please get in touch to secure your place! Don’t forget we also offer family camps and summer camps for children during the school holidays – early booking essential.

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*New* – Family Camp 28th-30th May

Enjoy the woods and relax with your family during May half-term. Nature based games and activities for all the family including tracking, crafts and fire lighting. Find out more.

Early booking essential – limited spaces. View our photo gallery to see how much fun you can have in the woods!

Complimentary Download – Whose Tracks?

Looking for ideas to entertain the children during the holidays? Click here to download our FREE seasonal activity sheet. Answers will be posted on our Blog shortly!

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Book Review by Graham Watson, John Muir Award Cumbria Manager

Learning with Nature.

20140617=learning-with-nature=front-cover=low-res-1000x1000Beautifully presented as a ‘how-to’ guide to inspire children, Learning with Nature is aimed at families, schools, youth groups and anyone working with children. The blurb tells me the activities are suitable for ages 3 to 16 and will help develop practical skills, awareness and respect for the natural world. An initial flick through reveals great images and a layout of activities that is easy to follow.

The introduction gives context in the form of an intriguing diagram showing an ‘extinction of experience’ revealed by the decline in roaming radius from home of 8 year olds from the 1920s (6 miles) to 2007 (700 yards), followed by the benefits of increased time in nature. There’s also advice on how to make the most of the book through the art of questioning to nurture curiosity, and a section on Looking after Nature which sets out the interplay between nature and people to allow both to flourish. I was thinking hard before I got to the activities!

leafThe activities are set out in 4 themes: games, naturalist, seasonal and survival skills. There’s a large range and each activity has clear advice on resources needed (often none, which I like), number of people, age, duration and how to do it. A note on variations and links to similar or complimentary activities is helpful. A side box titled Invisible Learning gives an idea of what we might expect when using the activity, advice I found either reinforced my own ideas or alerted me to new possibilities.

If the book lacks anything it’s the benefits of using the outdoors from a formal education perspective. However I think those working in this context will easily recognise ways of using these activities in their work.

10246355_10152042900188803_739863649045105486_nThis book is much more than a collection of great activities. It has an aim we can all buy into to forge “a heartfelt relationship [with nature] that will renew and inform our culture, creating love and respect for the natural world.” This is an excellent book for parents, teachers and youth leaders alike looking to inspire young people with nature. Get a copy and head outdoors!

Learning with Nature is now available at the special offer price of £14.99 (+ postage) via the Circle of Life Rediscovery website.


Graham Watson is the John Muir Award Cumbria Manager with the Lake District National Park. “Connect, enjoy and care for wild places.”

Graham can be contacted at cumbria@johnmuiraward.org 

The John Muir Award encourages people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places. It’s the main educational initiative of the John Muir Trust the leading wild land conservation charity in the UK, which works to protect wild land and wild places.

Find out the difference the John Muir Award makes and why they need your support.

Viva Lewes Book Review

bookreviewvivalewesAnother fantastic book review! Thank you Viva Lewes. Glad to see these activities being tried and tested! Special Christmas offer is available now.

Long Time, No Blog!

Have I got an abundance and a half of news to share with you all.

Summer is here. College is finished forever and I’ve bagged myself a new job, in one of my all time favourite shops! What could be better? Maybe this is life beginning to look up for me!

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perhaps I gazed at these Chinese lanterns long enough for good fortune to come my way

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How connected to nature are you?

“I NEVER TOOK IT FOR GRANTED, but nature was always in my life: I loved it, need it and it defined me. Somehow it made a connection with everything else.

As a child, we walked a lot. Not having a car, my mother was resourceful and independent and could find her way home from anywhere. Having a dog ensured good, long walks were a necessity whatever the weather and we did simple things: we played in the fields, in the river, build dens and came home in time for tea. Nature was part of me, not something separate to be sought out. But we had time on our hands.

Our parents had more freedom than us, and we had more freedom than our children. And that’s not down to a fear of what might happen to them: we lead far busier lives, there are more distractions and no time to get bored. We see the world through a screen, darkly, and it can isolate and insulate us from nature.

Continue reading