The details of the sessions I will be helping to run at Rosebank are becoming clearer. Charlie and I spent an hour or so discussing ideas for how best to engage the young people and came up with a list of activities and games including those based around Forest School Principles. While I have not yet worked with this group, having seen the site and having talked with Charlie about his experience of working with this group, I believe our ideas will be fun and engaging for the young people.
On a cold, windy and wet Thursday, I cycled to Killingbeck to start our programme on intervention. Unfortunately, the effects of ‘Storm Doris’ meant that view few young people turned up. We had planned to run an interactive name game and then dig up a new path and lay the woodchip, or our wet weather plan, was to play games inside the community centre. But, as so few people turned up and as it was so cold, we skipped the games, and spent an hour doing some manual labour which was rewarded by hot Ribena and chocolate brownies. While the low-turnout was disappointing, it is not surprising that so few young people wanted to attend given the conditions. Equally, as this was the first session, they have not got into the structure of attending and so maybe if this had been a month of two into the program more people would have turned up.
The weather on Friday was quite the opposite, and so attendance of the ‘Outdoor Active and Well’ group was much higher. While, I am yet to help plan one of these session, I am able to provide support and learn about food growing and permaculture. In this session, half the group were digging a new path (this seems to be regular winter activity), while I worked with one young person pruning fruit trees and re-planting wild strawberries. On previous sessions, the young person had mainly focused on manual labour, such as digging paths, but to the surprise of most of the staff, this week they volunteered for a different type of work. It is unclear whether this new type of work, worked for them. While they initially seemed engaged, they equally seemed frustrated by the pruning and then left the session half way through the strawberry planting. The focus of these sessions is to be relatively self-directed and to work on one’s own initiative, but reflecting on my practise, I wonder whether I should have been more directive. Unlike digging paths, pruning requires more instructions, the job is more complex and there is less room for error. Having not worked with this person before, I was unaware of their needs and capabilities, but if I work with them again, one strategy that might work is to be clearer in my instructions and break the tasks down into more manageable sections.
The majority of my first two weeks have been scheming and planning for future weeks. Having completed the usual induction procedures, meet everyone and sat in on the regular Tuesday morning meeting, I got straight to work. First task - understanding how a Karabirrdt works. Put simply, it is a technique for planning, implementing and monitoring a project. I am yet to see it in practise, and while it seems to me that it might be framed in mystifying and exclusive language, I am interested to see how it works in practise. Everyone here seems quite excited by it.
That Tuesday afternoon, Behla and I went to work with the GROW TOGETHER group who were this week building bird boxes which the following week would be sanded down and then put up around Hyde Park. This was a really enjoyable first experience of working with HPS. Initially, I was worrying that I might be the third wheel in the group and I wouldn’t have anything to contribute or help with. But, like with everyone I have met at and through HPS, people was open and welcoming. Two bird boxes, and a couple of scratches on my hand later, we strolled back to HPS through the Rosebank (another HPS project).
Since then, I have predominately been planning projects alongside Luke and Charlie for Killingbeck and Rosebank. The following Tuesday, I went with Luke to the Killingbeck site, where he showed me around the allotment and into the nature reserve next to it, where we are planning on running outdoor games and activities for a group of young people from Thursday. Similar to the activities I have subsequently been designing with Charlie for Rosebank, we have been attempting to work out how to integrate growing food with playing fun inclusive games. We’re trying to avoid a situation where games are the fun part, and time on the allotment is the work. For both projects, we have now discussed and identified a series of activities which will hopefully be suitable to the groups we’re working with.
Having spent over 10 years helping run outdoor education activities in a variety of different settings, I’m keen to develop my practise at HYP. I think there is significant scope for collaboration and I look forward to taking full advantage of this opportunity. So, I better stop writing about it and go out and do it.