Children of all ages have the chance to learn bushcraft skills - foraging for food, and creating toys and tools out of woodland materials - on special courses aimed at families. Check out these seventeen different ways of connecting with nature as a family this summer.
1 BECOME NATURE AWARE Wildnature, Sussex creates a space for individuals to learn about themselves and the natural world, through bush-craft and Nature Awareness skills. “Ray Mears plus Jedi training,” one child described it. By understanding how everything we need, from shelter, fire, food and medicines comes from the natural world, children develop more respect for their environment, each other, and a greater sense of worth and self-confidence. To be free to run, shout and play. To imagine, build and create, to feel their wild nature. See wildnature.org.uk for the latest courses and camps for 2012.
2 FATHER AND CHILD CAMP Knowledge of fire, hunting and woodcraft will be shared with fathers and their children aged over eight from 30 Jun – 1 Jul at Westley Farm, Glos. Families will then get to build their own shelter, cook and sleep out by an open fire. See westleyfarm.co.uk.
3 FAMILY WEEK IN THE WOODS The Woodland Skills Centre is situated in North Wales and runs a range of woodland holidays for adults and families from one day to a whole week. During the Family Week from 11-15 Aug the main programme for the children will include exploring the woodland, learning about the trees, plants and wildlife, building shelters, fire lighting and camp cooking, and a range of art and craft activities. Adults can do some more advanced green woodwork and make a stool using traditional craft tools and techniques. woodlandskillscentre.co.uk
4 CAMPFIRE COOKING Fancy a birthday party in the woods sitting round a campfire toasting marshmallows? Readers near the Woodland Play Centre in Somerset will be able to choose from a range of themed parties for their child, including survival, nature detectives or fairies. See woodlandplaycentre.co.uk for details.
5 LIGHT MY FIRE Dryad Bushcraft (01792 547213; dryadbushcraft.co.uk) in the heart of the Gower offers Family Bushcraft camps on its site in the Parc-le-Breos valley. Activities on offer range from wilderness cookery to tracking, lighting fires and building shelters, and the days cost from £180 for adults and £90 for under-16s.
6 ECO-VENTURE The eco Superweek run by the ATE educational trust is set at an outdoor education and eco-centre near Bewdley, Worcs with 90 acres of woodlands, forests and meadows to explore from 9-16 Aug. Children aged eight to 16 can enjoy rope courses, climbing towers and canoeing on the river Severn. See superweeks.co.uk.
7 FAMILY BUSHCRAFT An introduction to bushcraft on 21 Jul covers firelighting; knotwork; collecting and purifying water and shelter building skills at wildwoodbushcraft.com
8 SURVIVAL DAY OUT Learn many important skills including: how to identify animal tracks; build a team shelter from natural materials; and identify trees on one of the family bushcraft courses set in the heart of the New Forest. newforestbushcraft.com.
9 FOLLOW THE GRUFFALO TRAIL Take a guided walk through the woods of the Chiltern Hills, find a comfy spot and then sit and “listen to the woods” for a short period: before the Gruffalo story is read for everyone. See green-school.co.uk for details of this and many other family bushcraft adventures this summer.
10 DISCOVER NATURE TOGETHER This two night course designed by Ray Mears offers a chance for the modern family to come back together and explore the secrets of nature. Enjoy campfire stories, games, and the chance to learn key survival skills. See raymears.com for dates and details.
11 EXPLORE BY CANOE Glide down the River Dart in Devon on a Canoe and Bushcraft Day with your family, stop for a BBQ lunch cooked on an open fire. Spot kingfishers and seals. See backwateradventures.co.uk.
12 START YOUNG Three day course to introduce families to the joys of the natural world. This is an interactive course with lots of fun actitivites to appeal to even the youngest family members. Courses available throughout August – see bushcraftexpeditions.com.
13 ORIGINAL BUSHCRAFT Wilderness Gathering (wildernessgathering.com) in Wilts from 16-19 Aug is a festival of bushcraft, survival and primitive living skills.
14 SHARE SKILLS Share new experiences together on a Family Bushcraft Course in Derbyshire. One day, one night course for a family of four costs £320. Courses aimed specifically at teenagers also available, see woodland-ways.co.uk for details.
15 BUILD FIRE AND OTHER SKILLS A three day course that teaches many essential skills such as how to use a knife safely, build and maintain fire, create a natural shelter and more. After taking part in a Wilderness Family Camp in Kent you’ll never have need for matches or a lighter again! See natural-pathways.co.uk.
16 USE YOUR INGENUITY Designed for parents and children aged over eight, a family Bushcraft Weekend in Leics (pictured) with Woodland Survival Crafts offers plenty of wow moments. See woodlandsurvivalcrafts.com for more.
17 MAKE YOUR OWN Forest Garden in Shovelstrode, Sussex is an inspirational place where people can go to learn traditional woodland crafts. On 27 July adults and children over 10 can spend a day learning green woodworking skills and using equipment such as the pole lathe and shave horse. Families can also seek refuge from modern life in one of the stunning yurts set within ancient woodland. See forestgarden.info for courses and more info.
18 HAVE AN OUTDOOR ADVENTURE This summer, Devon based organisation WildWise are offering more great opportunities for children and families to have some outdoor adventures. For 13 years, WildWise have devised creative and meaningful ways to coax people away from modern habits and lifestyles into the great outdoors, in order to redress our collective ‘nature deficit disorder’ to coin Richard Louv’s phrase. Devon has so much diversity and rich natural heritage to offer so join the WildWise campfire, broaden your horizons and take some well-deserved time out in some of Devon’s finest nature. This summer WildWise are running two week long Summer Schools in July 23-27 and in August 20-24. These events are a fantastic opportunity for kids between 8-12 years to have fun in the woods and learn a variety of skills such as fire craft, den building, wild food, natural cordage, traditional crafts, nature awareness and tracking as well as lots of games. Bookings can be between one day to all five days, times are 10 am – 4pm daily and the cost is £30 per day or £140 for the week. For more details see www.wildwise.co.uk or call 01803 868269.