Tree-mendous Learning

7th February 2022

Children are spending less time playing outside in parks, woods, and fields due to lack of green spaces, digital technology and parents’ fears.

Tree-mendous Learning, based in Carlisle, facilitates outdoor learning for young people to develop life skills, confidence, and enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Established in 2018, the organisation received £4,180 from the Beck Burn Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund and the Laidlaw Fund for the Environment to support its forest-school activities in north Cumbria. Forest Schools offer a unique educational experience using the outdoor environment of the forest as a classroom.

Children aged 7-11 from the Longtown area were able to attend a one-day holiday camp. After a long period without important social contact with their friends, 20 children took part in bug hunting, archery, team building, woodwork and enjoyed a meal by the campfire.

Nicola Story, Trustee said: “For many of the children, it was the highlight of their summer holidays as some parents simply told us they didn’t have the money to go on holiday or spend on expensive days away. Not only did the children have a wonderful day learning and playing together, they also all enjoyed a hot campfire lunch, which for some of the children is not something they always have access to. For many children it was a much-needed opportunity to have a safe and fun day away in the great outdoors.”

Pupils from Caldew Lea School and Morton Central Academy attended four forest school sessions. They were emerged in nature, learnt new skills and have a greater understanding and appreciation for the environment where they live.

Gayle Story, SENCO Support Officer, said: “The children have loved their time in the great outdoors, attendance was 95% every week.

“One young man, who was late to school every day and usually arrives at 9.30am, enjoyed the activities so much at the forest school days he was on time, as he didn’t want to miss it.”

Nicola continued: “The project opened these pupils’ eyes to a world they had never had the opportunity to explore, the were happy and laughing and it was an amazing experience that they will always remember.

Ava, age 10, said: “I’ve learned that I can still go outside whatever the weather.”

Gracie, age 10, said: “I feel safe, happy protected and at home in the forest.”

All the children reported that they felt they had improved their communication, confidence, teamwork and their resilience.

Outdoor education can help children to grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in their learning.

“The project was a tremendous success with these pupils from urban schools who have never had an opportunity like this,” said Nicola.