On arrival the first task for students was to put their tents up. Following lunch round the campfire, they went on an orientation walk around the site to explore the different habitats. This included a river walk up a gorge. They walked IN the river which was for many students the highlight of their week! After supper around the fire, Jane and Caspar spoke to the students about life in the Stone Age and demonstrated the tools and clothes that would have been used.
In the evening, the groups were treated to a story-telling session round the campfire, led by Milly Jackdaw.
Camp was taken down and goodbyes said. In the closing circle around the fire one student said, “Thank you for my first camping experience. Thank you for the songs and for teaching me that if I’m depressed, to go to nature and the woods and they will help me.”
In feedback from the school staff it was commented that “the focus on mindfulness activities and back to nature was great to re-connect the young people with the outdoors away from technology” and “the location of the site was brilliant.”
The students ate well, appreciated the ‘time around the fire’ chatting and sharing stories. One student expressed, ‘This is what family really means.’
By the end of the week the students were a ‘tribe’; they had recognised their own strengths and weakness and shared the camp work accordingly. We saw minor disputes resolved amongst themselves, we saw sad faces when it was time to leave, we saw happy children away from social media, we saw children sharing personal battles and being supported by peers.
By taking the students out of a school environment staff saw a different child. These relationships continued beyond the camp and to this day we still chat about the camp and the students who attended have the confidence to approach the school staff if they have any issues in school.
This is a project that all students across Wales need to experience. Just having a week away from mobiles had a profound impact on their wellbeing and we have seen relationships develop and that old fashioned skill of ‘talking’ develop.
Finally all parents were very supportive and grateful that their children had the opportunity to experience the ‘Wildcamp’.