Monday, 24 October 2011

Vikings and Bivouacs

On Saturday I talked about some of the Wildlife Trust reserves I volunteered at last week. But I didn't tell you what I was actually doing!

On Monday I helped at a Viking Day run for a school trip of about 30 eight year olds. Arriving at the Trust's Education Centre in Penwortham I was given my Viking outfit and Viking name, Astrid.Then we filled the mini bus with wooden swords, shields cooking pots, fire kit, water and wheel barrows. We headed out to Booth's Plantation, about 5 minutes drive away, and ferried the gear over the the "long house", a very long wooden shed.
Just after we'd hidden anything plastic or modern, the children arrived (after travelling back in time) and ate their lunches (Viking suitable with no tomatoes, potatoes or modern foods) in the round house while being told Viking tales. After lunch, and a game of Kubbthree groups split up and learnt about how Vikings lived; cooking, weaving and learning warrior craft. There were lots of questions like "Do you have guitars?", "Why aren't you dead?" and "Do you know what electricity is?" which had to be answered in character-quite tricky when being told all the Viking's were dead. All the children seemed to have enjoyed themselves and they headed back "into the future", since we decided none of them would make very good slaves.
It was a bit scary at first as I wasn't quite sure what to expect or what I should be doing but by the end of the day I was really having fun and it was great to watch the children learning and using knowledge from the classroom outside.

On Tuesday I helped with another school trip of about 60 year six children on a survival day at the Mere Sands Wood reserve. This was a little easier than Monday as I didn't have to pretend to be anything and it involved all the stuff I loved doing at Scouts when I was younger. Before the children arrived we set up logs around a fire pit and put up tarpaulins in case of bad rain later in the day.
Once the children arrived they were split into groups and half did fire making while the rest worked at making shelters from the surrounding natural materials in the woods. This was so much fun! We first propped three long sticks together to form a tripod and then covered two sides with sticks to make a roof. This was then covered with leaf little-nothing green so living plants are damaged, and then we had our shelter! I was very impressed with how the children worked together and also a little surprised at how little they seemed to know about the natural world. I was asked "Is this an olive?" while being presented with an acorn, which isn't as silly as it sound really as they do look quite similar.
After the shelters were finished the children played hide and seek games before lunch and changing over to the other activity. My afternoon group were slightly more productive as they didn't have the distraction of finding a frog whilst building their shelter! Just like Monday it was brilliant to see how enthusiastic and exciting the children (and teachers) were about being outside all day and I hope they learned something too. I definitely did.

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