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Outdoor Explorers (The Launch)

Usually, we aim to release our newsletter and half-term blog just after the holidays, but at the start of a new academic year, that will always be challenging. There is always so much to do in preparation for the new term. One of my favourite roles at The Outdoor Learning Company is launching new sessions, and it has happened again this year. What makes this even more special is that we have set out to create something entirely new. Our Home Education offering in the Forest School had always concluded at the age of 11. We wanted to create something exciting that would capture the imagination of older participants, and for this purpose, we have come up with Outdoor Explorers…

It's been a long time in the making, with children leaving our sessions and still wanting to feed their passion for nature. We wanted something that would challenge them, reward them, and give them a sense of community. We ended up with Outdoor Explorers, a blend of Forest School, Bushcraft, and the John Muir Award.

Forest School - As a company, Forest School is our mainstay. By incorporating the freedom of Forest School into Outdoor Explorers, it provides young people who have journeyed with us over the years with familiarity around this session.

Bushcraft - Outdoor Explorers has taken on a nomadic feel. Changing base camps every so often, so as not to become too bored in one place, setting up our shelters weekly, and having a special area for our conservation work that we will visit every few weeks. Hopefully, the bushcraft skills that will be learned can be practised regularly by working in this free-roaming way.

John Muir Award - Throughout the year, our young people will have the opportunity to achieve in the John Muir Award scheme. The John Muir Award encourages young people to discover, explore, conserve, and share their experiences in the natural world. It's a personal journey that fosters a deeper connection with nature and a commitment to protect our planet.

Our First Session - We have completed our first session and I believe that we all enjoyed it. We arrived at our barn at 10.30 ready to meet new friends and have a little chat about what to expect. The aims of our first session were all about making connections, discovering our first base camp, and getting a feel for how everything will run.

After Sara (our super knowledgeable supervisor) spoke for 10 minutes, we divided our equipment among the group and headed out to our first location. The weather was looking a little ominous, so everyone pitched in to set up our shelter. This was followed by organising a wood store and finding materials for seating. This left a little time before lunch to explore and discover our surroundings. Lunch will always be a time of community, a chance to connect with others, share stories, and build relationships.

After lunch, some of our young people worked on renovating a bridge across the stream, while others worked on creating their nature journals. Then, as a group, we played a tracking game around the woodland where we were based. One team laid out a trail and then hid at the end of it, while the second group followed the trail and searched for the first group. We then switched the groups around.

To conclude the session, Sara had brought in the ingredients to make cinnamon buns on the campfire. This was well received by everyone in the group. We may not be the Mary Berry’s of our woodlands just yet, but give us time.

In the next few weeks, we will focus more on connections, and then we will be ready to embark on our journey with the John Muir Award and the associated conservation work. If you are interested in joining this group or any other home education offerings, please email

Written by Justin Hannam

co-founder of the Outdoor Learning Company

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