Resharpen your skills day

With a bit of delay, here’s a roundup of the Resharpen you skills workshop that happened some Friday in late November, on a rather cold and wet day in Chatelherault:

It was with a bit of apprehension that I’d signed up for the Resharpen Your Skills day, organised by the Glasgow Cluster of the Forest Education Initiative. I’m not a teacher, or nursery teacher, or even someone who has undergone any type of forest education training. I’m just someone who has experienced the positive impact outdoor play has on children, on any child, regardless of temperament, background or anything else that may label a child. So I was ever so slightly apprehensive that I’d be the odd one out at the event, the stranger amongst teachers who know each other through their shared passion for forest school education.

I arrived to see the familiar face of my older daughter’s outdoor kindergarten teacher. Then I got to know, one by one, all the different people who had made it to the day, and no, it wasn’t a closed clique. Yes, my case was a bit unusual, but it surely wasn’t a problem, everybody was there to learn and to spend time outdoors.

It was a cold and very wet day, one of those typical Scottish November days. I couldn’t remember which workshops I’d signed up for, but after lots of tea and a scone to start the day off, I joined the outdoor games crowd. It was a bit of safe footing, probably the one workshop where I actually had some prior knowledge, and there’s nothing like starting off with a game that was known to me. After that, it was just a really enjoyable day spent with a very diverse crowd of people. They may all have been teachers, but sure they came from very different settings. Some had forest school qualifications, some were just starting out on their journey to open up schools to outdoor learning.

The event was led by countryside rangers who had a very hands on but also fun approach to things. The workshop on outdoor games ran through a whole range of different games which I found were in part just variation of games I knew anyway, giving me ideas how to adapt games in general for the outdoors.

Too much standing about meant it was getting chilly though, so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on some tools and make a stool. Tools are one of these areas of forest school activities which I guess are more attractive to the guys, or maybe that’s just a presumption, because, to be honest, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on saw, drill and carving knife and the last time I checked, I was female. So I made a stool, which was hard sawing work, and it came in very handy because at the end of it, I had a less than perfect stool but above all I was warm.

Meanwhile, another group had lit the fire. Which really was the best thing to do. So we gathered around the warmth that emanated from the fire, enjoyed our lunch and the time to get to know other participants.

Next up I decided that tracking animals would be a good workshop to take part in. And so it was – I learned rather a lot of interesting facts. For instance that Chatelherault boasts a badger population of about 1000 and that many of the paths weren’t human but made by badgers, as they tend to stick to specific paths. I learned how to spot badger marks, saw deer hoof prints, and can tell you that badgers eat 300 worms a day (multiply this by 1000 badgers and you wonder where the worms come from!) or even 600 if they’re nursing their young. And they have 5 toes! Other tracking activities brought childhood days back, when I used to collect the fluff balls from birds of prey and dissect them with gusto to find which animals they had devoured. Yes, I think I actually enjoyed doing that.

I came home and was knackered. Now that I’ve returned to my normal job and no longer take the kids out for full days whatever the weather, so much fresh air did to me what it should. I was relaxed, happy and very tired and would have slept like a log had it not been for those two girls in my life who need a lot of attention at nighttime.

And I now have a stool in my front garden.

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