There’s something very special about setting up camp in the woods and building a fire – the damp earthy smells, the feeling of the earth under your feet, the crunch of twigs and the dappled light. Which is why it’s a perfect place for children to play, as the natural resources are unlimited.
Our Wild Play Days playscheme for 7-11 year olds is all about encouraging children to discover how creative and inspirational a natural outdoor setting can be. Wild Play Days take place in locations such as Norbury Park, Ashtead Common, Sixty Acre Wood in Chessington and Esher Common. And from the get-go, children learn new skills as they play with den building, tying knots, erecting tarps and whittling wood with a sheath knife.
“We make basic things like bows and arrows,” says Emma Wiles, Head of Children Services and Wild Play Days Leader. “We use hazel as this doesn’t have an impact on the woodland and grows back very quickly.”
On a typical Wild Play Day, the children and the leaders build their den, explore the woods, learn how to set up a camp fire and cook popcorn or marshmallows. They’ll look at droppings and paw prints to see who else is in the woods with them -and get creative with woodland art making mud faces on trees, for example.
“We teach the children about basic fire skills: sighting, lighting and managing,” says Emma. “By far, the most popular activities on a Wild Play Day are den building, toolwork and building a fire!”
The Wild Play Days holiday scheme is based at YMCA Hawker, Kingston and sets off from there to its daily woodland location. You can book your child from 8.30am-3.30pm for £30 or choose a later pick up at 6pm for just £35 per day. For more information and details of our other summer holiday playscheme, go to http://www.ymcalsw.org/holiday-playschemes/
To book your child’s place for Wild Play Days, please call YMCA Hawker on 020 8296 9747.