Kids can’t climb trees!

“Kid’s can’t climb trees, they might fall out!” – Sadly, I hear this a lot and I’m not just talking about climbing trees. And why would this be the title of my blog about the taster days we have just finished, well read on to find out!

So this weekend we held out taster days which were great fun and attended by 30 children in total! Obviously it has been in the planning for ages but it started really on Friday evening as our instructors gathered to set things up. As usual the talk was all about how we are going to make it a great weekend for the excited young people who will be turning up. The setting up of the canvas was not a major job, because we have specifically selected our equipment to be easy and convenient so as to maximize our time for adventure but there were a number of tasks still to complete before morning.

So we left Alex, Tom, Sam and Duncan on site setting things up and me and Matt headed out for the food shopping and also to get some of the equipment which unfortunately our suppliers had let us down with late deliveries. It was already 11pm so we knew it was going to be a late one. The food shopping was a simple affair but trying to purchase 30 camp chairs in our colours, at the price we had planned and post midnight was like an episode of the apprentice! Thank goodness for 24 hour supermarkets though, we managed to find exactly what we needed, in the colours we needed and at the price we had planned much to the surprise of the Tesco security team and store managers who both stopped us to ask why we were loading 30 camp chairs into our trolley!!

By the time we had finished this and got back to site it was 4:00am!! But there was one final job to do, putting the signs out for the morning. With Alex and Duncan already tucked up in bed, Matt, Sam, Tom and I headed out to the main road to put all the signs up and finally turned in at 4:30am but not without first setting a 5:45am alarm! What seemed like seconds later, that alarm went off and everybody was naturally not enthusiastic about the thought of getting up at all. So I blasted out some phantom of the opera which did the trick! We headed off for showers and were ready to greet the 25 young people who were turning up for the Saturday session.

The young people arrived gradually and were all very quiet to start with but it didn’t take long for them all to start talking to each other over breakfast and after introductions and the young people clearly growing in confidence having nick named one of our instructors Tom to Jeff, we were ready to head out for our activities which included fire lighting, cooking chocolate bananas and apples on the fire, rafting, shelter building, mop hockey and games. I was instructing fire lighting and cooking myself so cannot speak for the other activities but a great time was had by all as the young people made their way around the activities.

As the activities ended, it was tea time. Spaghetti Bolognese! We sat around the table listening to the young people’s experiences and tales of the different activities and hearing about how much fund they had had. It was time for pudding, tinned fruit and squirty cream. Of course we implemented one of the rules of Navigators that all seconds of squirty cream must be administered directly and this resulted in cream round their face, in their hair, down their backs, wherever it fell really.

We then talked a bit about Navigators and what was coming up before the parents arrived to pick up their very tired children! But not without a photo of the group first.

After the last child left and because the instructors were staying overnight ready for the next day, there was a quick beer to toast the success of the day as discussions began about what had gone well, what could have been improved etc, showers to get cleaned up and then a trip to KFC for a well deserved rest and some dinner.

Then  after another trip to the supermarket to get the food for the next day, it was back to site to sit round the fire in the company of friends. As is the usual contents of discussion around the fire we covered politics, life, philosophy, religion and various other random subjects before realizing that at some point over the last hour, every one of the instructors had been asleep in their chair and as the conversation drifted into it’s third hour, it was time for bed. Sleep came very quickly as we prepare ourselves for next morning’s 5:45am alarm. Again, this seemed like seconds later and as it went off, it was as quickly dismissed before we woke up again in shock over an hour later! We had just rolled out of bed and got ourselves ready as the first child arrived!

The 2nd day was a much more intimate event with less people. We still covered all the activities and more as we went exploring the forest as well. And it was whilst doing this that I realized the highlight of my weekend and the subject of this post. The previous day I had seen kids climbing trees and all my life I have been told that this is not allowed! But as instructors we got together did a quick dynamic risk assessment and allowed the activity to go on.

Equally, whilst we were exploring the forest off the track, making our way through thick bushes and trees, crossing streams on logs and even wading through those streams, this is exactly the kind of adventures young people are looking for and it is our job as instructors not to restrict this, but to put the safety around it to enable it to happen. Kids can climb trees, they can wade through streams, they can even cross streams by shimmying across a fallen tree. They must be allowed to pursue this kind of thing and we must do everything we can to allow this to happen in a safe manner without them even realizing we are doing this. And that is exactly what we had achieved this weekend and it was definitely my highlight to see the kids doing all of this.

Another positive for me was as we made our way through the woods, one of the kids turned to me unprompted to say “You’re a great leader”. This was not a positive because of the compliment received, because I feel that all the instructors we have are equally capable, instead it was a positive because we had succeeded in creating an environment where a 10 year old will appreciate and compliment unprompted when they feel good about something and that has proved that we are teaching much more than just practical skills.

All in all it was a great weekend, a fantastic introduction to what we are all about and I can’t wait until the next activity we do so we can bring this to more young people. It was fantastic working in this new team of volunteers as well. So much positivity, enthusiasm and desire to do something great. And of course the friendship which naturally comes and grows as you work together like this.

My parting though, I can’t wait to allow more kids to “climb trees”!

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Sleep deprivation never felt so good! - Lincoln Navigators :

    […] of jobs to do, everyone was incredibly busy. Without boring you all with every single detail [But you can read about it in Mike’s blog post about the event if you want], it ended up with Mike and I touring Tesco at 3am on Saturday morning. After returning, putting […]

    2 years ago

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