Green Guardians learn the art of bushcraft

Sarah our Green Guardians Project Officer talks about her Easter adventures in bushcraft.

Green Guardians is all about getting young people outside to make connections to nature. Bushcraft can be a great way to do this. There’s something about spending time in the woods and sitting round a fire fettling that really brings people together.

Green guardians groups learn the art of bushcraft

Sorting sticks for the first bushcraft challenge!

I had a great couple of days out in the first week of the Easter holidays with two youth groups – Oxenhope Youth and Skipton Young Carers doing bushcraft activities. We were based up at Malham Tarn Field Centre and whilst the weather was somewhat bleak, spirits were high.

Each day began with an orienteering type quiz to collect items needed for the bushcraft session. This gave the young people time to explore the beautiful location on their own. They also found out a bit about what goes on at Malham Tarn and how the Field Studies Council work to benefit the environment.

Fire lighting challenge

Bushcraft began! Not surprisingly we started by collecting a lot of sticks and sorted them into size order, followed by a demonstration on how to light a fire without matches. The young people were then challenged to light their own fires. Given the rather wet weather, this was a pretty tricky task! But both groups succeeded without help and we made hot chocolate on the Kelly kettle to celebrate & warm up.

Green Guardians groups learn fire lighting and other bushcraft skills

Success in the fire lighting challenge!

Getting crafty

I’d designed the rest of the session to be quite informal with craft activities they could try on and round the fire. Some of the group decided they’d like to do some den building – which was great. When I work with young people I’m really keen to let them follow their own interests as much as possible. So long as it’s safe is my motto!

The group took part in some craft activities including:

  • making little clay creatures to bake in the fire
  • making charcoal to draw with and take home
  • making stick people from wire and Elder twigs
  • Pewter casting

Our favourite activity was pewter casting which produced some lovely results that the young people could take home.

Green Guardians groups learn pewter casting

Pewter casting – our favourite fireside craft activity.

Connecting with nature
The day concluded with a bit of reflection around the fire – with toasted marshmallows of course!

My favourite comments from the day were:

“That is was one of the best times I’ve had in a long time . It was just great to get outdoors and learning life saving skills and stuff.”

“That it’s a great way to re-connect with nature when you feel you are always stuck inside and want to have fun outdoors. Great time!”

Big thanks to all the young people for their enthusiasm and to the support staff who came along and to Malham Tarn Field Centre for letting us use their grounds (and come inside for lunch on the coldest day!).

Green Guardians is part of the YDMT’s Green Futures programme part of Our Bright Future, a £33 million programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by a consortium of eight organisations which is led by The Wildlife Trusts. To find out more about Green Guardians visit our website.

First summit for our young green champions!

Sian is one of our Green Futures Environmental Trainees based at Cumbria Wildlife Trust. In this blog Sian tells us all about her experience at the very first Green Futures Youth Environment Summit this October.

The scheme mine and Isaac’s apprenticeship has come from is called Green Futures, a project run by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust as part of the Our Bright Future programme. Green Futures consists of four environmental youth orientated groups: Eco Schools, Young Rangers, Green Guardians and finally the Environmental Trainee Scheme that our apprenticeships come under.

This year, Green Futures, piloted their idea of a Youth Summit, through which all four branches of the Green Futures project could meet. The three day residential was held in the gorgeous setting of the field studies centre at Malham Tarn – a suitably inspiring backdrop for such an inspiring weekend!

Making bird boxes at the Green Futures Youth Environment Summit.

Sian & other young people from across the North West came together to explore environmental issues at the Green Futures Youth Environment Summit.

With an age range of 12 – 21, it would be easy to assume that activities to suit everybody were hard to come by, but as everyone had one very big shared passion no such problem occurred – in fact the weekend flew by with the amount of things we had to do! Activities included a trail around the grounds of Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre, a talk on using your own personal strengths to get involved in the environment from Grainne, who is on the national Our Bright Future steering group, making a bird box, and the ‘recycle Olympics’. On the Sunday we had a series of incredibly informative workshops on food waste, packaging waste, and water waste.

Everybody who attended was so open minded and uniquely knowledgeable, the weekend was a huge success. Having spoken to YDMT staff after they’d received the feedback forms, I learned that the only suggestion for improvement from attendees – including myself – was that the residential was longer… which is always a good sign!

Making bird boxes - one of the many activities in offer at the Youth Summit.

Making bird boxes – one of the many activities in offer at this years Youth Summit.

Green Futures

Our Green Futures project aims to empower and support the ambitious and capable young people of Yorkshire and Lancashire to become more involved, aware and connected to the fantastic natural environment that’s right on their doorstep. Find out more on our website www.ydmt.org/green-futures

You can also find out about the Our Bright Future programme Green Futures is part of here.

 

Refugees find sanctuary in Malham

This September the small community of Malhamdale in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales opened their homes to a group of refugee and asylum seeking women and children for a weekend of fun and friendship.

The group of refugee and asylum seeking women and children & their Malhamdale hosts.

The group of refugee and asylum seeking women and children & their Malhamdale hosts.

This was our second ‘hosting weekend’ which grew out of previous day visits made by women and children from the City of Sanctuary’s Maternity Stream to the Dale, organised as part of our ‘People and the DALES’ project. Participants enjoyed these visits so much that they often didn’t want to go home and asked if there might be the chance to stay for a weekend.

This year built on the huge success of our first hosting weekend in 2015. Seven families opened their homes to welcome 35 refugee and asylum seeking women and children to experience a weekend of Dales hospitality. Among the group was Olympic athlete Muna, who represented Sudan in Beijing as a long jumper – a lawyer, doctor, midwife and various other amazing women and children from countries including Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, Albania, South Africa and Bolivia.

Farms, raft building & bell-ringing!

The weekend began on Friday evening with a delicious meal at Airton Quaker Meeting House. On Saturday morning we visited Dykelands Farm in Airton where farmer Janet Bolland showed the group around her dairy herd. It was then up to Malham Tarn Field Centre for a picnic lunch and a session of raft building whilst our resident artist Katharine Holmes (also a host) made small portraits of people to take home. That evening entertainment included a ceilidh, singing, dancing and an impromptu demonstration of South Asian dancing.

A visit to Dykelands Farm in Airton.

A visit to Dykelands Farm in Airton.

On Sunday morning we were all invited to join the church service at St Michael’s where women talked about their experiences as asylum seekers . Some of the young people were even given the chance to turn their hand at bell ringing.

A weekend filled with hope

Mirander from Albania said of the weekend:

I’m an asylum seeker which makes me feel tired, and divorced from the world, but this weekend has filled me with hope. I am very happy because people I don’t know have opened their home and this makes me feel like I am at home. My host even made breakfast like my mum does.

Diako said:

I feel ecstatic. The weekend made me feel valued and important. We felt like we are back to life instead of just existing. We felt love around us and the important thing is we are one big family.

The hardest part of the weekend was saying goodbye. One host noticed that her young visitor was very upset to be leaving and everyone wanted to return again next year.

 I have been very moved by the way simple hospitality was viewed by the members of the group and the impact it had. We were warned that Tabitha had a bad stammer and that communication might be difficult. Amazingly she felt so comfortable with us she didn’t stammer at all and was really quite a chatterbox! As the weekend progressed she opened up and shared some of her story with us. It felt good to have gained her trust so readily.

The final comment comes from a host, and sums up why the hosting weekend is so important.

If only this project could be replicated in many more places we would live in a society where there is greater tolerance and understanding of asylum seekers and refugees.

Raft building at Malham Tarn.

Raft building at Malham Tarn.

The people involved

Our thanks go to the many people involved in making the weekend possible – in particularly to Rose McCarthy of City of Sanctuary Maternity Stream, Rev Michael Jackson and the congregation of St Michaels in Kirkby Malham for organising accommodation and providing meals, to Floe Shakespeare and Airton Quakers for a quiet space and great food, Jim Wright and Abby Forrest from Malham Tarn Field Centre for providing accommodation and activities, Janet Bolland for showing us around her farm, to all the hosts for taking our visitors into their homes and hearts and Richard Hargreaves for playing at the ceilidh. A big thanks also to the Morrisons Foundation for funding towards this and other similar initiatives.

To find out more about People & the Dales outreach project contact:

Judy Rogers judy.rogers@ydmt.org or Gail Smith gail.smith@ydmt.org on 015242 51002 www.ydmt.org 

City of Sanctuary Maternity Stream www.cityofsanctuary.org