Woodland Tales

The Woodland Wanderer Returns…

The woodland wanderer has returned with a brand new blog post.

The last time I wrote for Circle of Life Rediscovery was way back in 2014. Fast forward into 2017 and I am back for more blogging, capturing the involvement and adventures between CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and CLR. Oh, but there’s a twist. When I was last blogging for CLR I was a CAMHS participant on the woodland days, whereas now I’m a Peer Mentor for CAMHS. Meaning, that instead of directly participating, I am now supporting children and young people to take part in the activities involved on the woodland days – because let’s face it, it can sometimes feel a little daunting going out of one’s comfort zone.

wwFebruary last month was the first CAMHS and CLR woodland day of 2017 and the weather was on our side! It was a little grey and hazy but most importantly dry and mild- although wellie boots were still needed! The day was filled with an array of activities from making dream catchers using branches from Willow trees, to going completely above and beyond and baking gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and mini pizzas in a frying pan! I didn’t think it was possible to even bake in the woods, let alone make chocolate chip cookies that tasted like the real deal, if not better.

 

There’s something really down to earth and relaxing about cooking on a campfire in the woodland.

ww2Sitting by the fire, watching whatever it is that you’re cooking sizzle away. No timers to tell you when your food is ready to be devoured, no weighing scales to precisely measure ingredients to bake with, it all comes down to intuition. Not only that, but it’s the young people themselves whom have built their own fires. I think there’s something really special and inclusive about that. It’s getting together, being amongst others who share a deep understanding of mental health and being in an environment that is so unspoilt and forgiving to whatever you may be feeling that day.

There is that saying ‘Sharing is Caring’ which I really think rings true on our woodland days. My perspective has slightly changed since undertaking the role as a Peer mentor, as I’m able to view things from a different viewpoint, as opposed to when I was a CAMHS participant myself. I’m really seeing the way in which young people participate together and provide each other with a helping hand, if one sees another struggling. Helping each other out to achieve the same goal is all about teamwork – it’s brilliant to see first-hand.

ww3It’s the activities that young people participated in during the day, which really brought out this sense of teamwork and working together collectively. Activities including putting up a hammock, helping to build a bird box as well as supporting each other on a practical level when making a dream catcher, which sometimes felt as though it was a little too fiddly to complete. But all the young people worked together and achieved what it was that they came out to do. Of course that is subjective for everyone. Some participants come and experience the woods for the first time, step out their comfort zone and take in whatever the wooded atmosphere has to offer up them. Whereas other participants just need space to sit and just be present for that moment in time, away from the pressures of the outside world.

ww4As I mentioned before, the woodland radiates a presence of understanding. It’s okay if one is having a bad day, but if so, the woodland will equally lift your spirits too.

Participation and teamwork really is the essence behind a CAMHS and CLR woodland day!

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After all the hard work and energy spent from building bird boxes and dream catchers, it was time to reconvene together by the fire and share the magnificent gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. As a Peer Mentor I led this activity, which can feel a little daunting at first but I felt it ran really effectively and so I was equally ecstatic with the outcome (and taste!) of this activity.

ww8The result was best described as a hybrid between a warm cookie and a scone- delightful! I don’t think this will be the last of the woodland baking adventures that you’ll be seeing here…

For now and until the next woodland adventure occurs, I shall sign off here and leave you with the ever growing truth that Spring is on its beautiful way and is only right around the corner!

Em x

Bonfires, Bangers and Brighton!

Greetings fellow bloggers,

Hope you’re all well and enjoying the changing seasons wherever you may be in the world. The warm and inviting colors of Autumn are beginning to fade as the last of Autumn’s leaves fall to the ground. Really highlights how fast the seasons, and ultimately life passes by!

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Am already missing the Autumnal tones…

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CAMHS Camp participant feedback…

CAMHS Camp May 2013

What have you enjoyed about the camp?

  • “The thing I’ve most enjoyed about the last two days in spending time with your friends and not your family, so you’re going out into the forest and having all this free space and free time and you don’t have to worry about any of the stress at home, or whatever it is going through your mind. You just come to the forest, open, new space, and be with your friends, be with people that you like and can enjoy time with and just have a good time.”
  • “I’ve really enjoyed making fires. Thats what I really like. It’s nice to get together with people that I know and that I don’t know. It’s been a really nice experience. I’ve never camped out in the woods before! So I was quite nervous about when it got dark, but it wasn’t as scary as I thought!”
  • “Fire making, cooking the food, playing the games, going to see the badger sets and just hanging out with others!”

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Volunteer Feedback from 2012

Why did you volunteer?

  • For the experience, and I wanted to contribute.
  • I am very interested in conversation. I read about CLR and thought it sounded amazing and worthwhile. I wanted to volunteer for the project. I would like to eventually work in this area, and thought this would be a really good experience.
  • To gain experience working with children.

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Forest School at Ringmer Primary School

We have just reached the end of our 5 week Forest School Programme with the Year 3 and 4 classes at Ringmer Primary School. It has been an action packed course filled with exploring, playing and learning. The excitable children became one with nature and explored every inch of the ‘Wild Area’ which became Forest School’s home.

“I was brave today, and learnt to overcome my fear of fire.”

Each new activity was greeted by a wave of enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge. We watched them grow physically and mentally and adapt to learning in an outdoor setting. They developed fine motor skills using palm drills to make holes in sycamore discs, making beads from elder wood and using fire splints. And enhanced their gross motor movements climbing trees, using bow saws, and building dens.

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