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Young People, Survival & Wilderness Education

There is no wifi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection

Whilst teaching survival out in the woods one day, a young boy picked up a pine- cone and asked “Is this an Acorn?” Another girl had no awareness as to where bacon came from and thought the “The supermarket” was its true origins. The knowledge that ‘Bacon comes from pigs’ was new information. Another teenager once asked me if the popcorn I was serving him was Halal. Just a few amusing but slightly troubling memories from the wild!

Then there are moments like this… I remember seeing a teenage girl standing overlooking the river by the outskirts of camp. She was looking out to the view and admiring the Welsh landscape of the Brecon Beacons.

When I approached her she expressed gratitude and explained that she had never really had the opportunity to admire beautiful views like this one before. This was the first time she could appreciated natural beauty and was fascinated by all the different colours in the landscape. She said it made her feel calm and content.

The beauty of nature can indeed have that effect.

Being in woods and forests help young people to get back in tune with natural surroundings and this is a place where they can begin to see things from a different perspective, a natural and wild one.

Stimulating the imagination to tune in with the natural environment and to use what nature provides to survive is an engaging, fun and challenging activity for both children and adults.

Every outdoor leader will have inspiring stories to share of when witnessing transformation in people of all ages and cultures in the wilderness.

Nature can teach us things we can’t learn from books and it all lies in the human experience.

Humans are in essence are nature at core and being in the wild stimulates parts of the mind that city dwellers may have locked away or forgotten about. More research is coming forward stating how being in nature is very beneficial to the mind, body and spirit.

Technology has indeed advanced humanity in many ways and bought us unique wonders. This message would be not reaching you right now if it wasn’t for humans and their technological advances. Though at the same time, our artificial development seems to have disconnected many of us from the natural world. We are spending more time indoors but do we really understand how much all this time spent in sitting in front of a screen may be affecting the psychology of a growing child?

City dwellers are exposed to a large amount of advertising; electro-geomagnetic stress levels that can alter and effect brain frequencies and patterns.

Being constantly surrounded by geomagnetic stress emitted from artificial influences and with the added decrease in outdoor exposure, we could be more prone to depression, anxiety or mental illness. We have become increasing reliant on technological gadgets to help us evolve but with it, we are losing touch with the great outdoors and natural wilderness.

It’s important to inspire youth to keep active and motive them to connect with the natural world at an early age – especially inner city children – where they have little or no exposure to the wilderness. Spending time in nature is also proving to help support the brain development and health of growing children.

Exploring the natural world can indeed be a classroom without walls. Outdoor adventure activities such as survival and bush craft will help young people and adults to step out of their comfort zones as they get the chance to explore unfamiliar territory.

Survival and bush craft skill sessions educate in how to use natural resources to live in the wild but also how to respect, connect and value the importance of nature.

Being in natural surroundings also stimulates the imagination and can activate sensory systems in the body and mind.

Restricting young peoples movement to sitting down for most of the hours of the day and spending less time outdoors may be causing more harm than we are led to believe. The importance of wilderness education is coming through big time and proving to be extremely beneficial.

According to recent studies the number of children with sensory deficits is on the rise and schools are developing certain programs to assist in the increase of students presenting sensory deficits.

Children need to move and play frequently on a regular basis in order to be happy, content and healthy.

There is a need for more adults to encourage young people to connect to wildlife, the environment and the natural world. We need to remind ourselves of our roots and to become conscious of spending more time in the outdoors for physical and mental wellbeing.

Supporting children and helping them find a balance between growing up and living up to the expectations of modern city life but at the same time, remembering human’s true roots and the connection we all share to each other and the natural world.

We must push for this knowledge to manifest on a global conscious level for the next generations to come and for humanities ultimate survival. Whether we be sheltered from the wild elements of nature by growing up a city landscape, humans are forever connected to the natural world and we must make an effort to engage in the environment.

Without a doubt, a natural human connection occurs when spending time immersed in nature. After a while, social programs disperse and you become aware of your surroundings.

Having witnessed young children on the spectrum, who may have had difficulty focusing in classrooms although once they’re presented with outdoor education. The challenges usually common in the classroom setting, begin to decrease and they are noticeable behaviour changes.

Often teachers and parents are positively surprised when they see the difference in behavioral changes a child may display after interaction and play time in nature. With the positive rise in Forest Schools emerging, out door education and its importance is coming back strong.

Activities in Survival such as shelter building, fire lighting, search & rescue and cooking in the wild. Not only teach valuable skills but also at the same time create an awareness of the cycle of life. Youth learn about the importance of having awareness as to where their food comes from and the process it goes through before it reaches the plate.

Fire lighting doesn’t just demonstrate having responsibility and safety. Getting a first time fire lit on a rainy day can be quite testing. Practicing having patience, learning from mistakes and a good amount of determination can be applied to all aspects in life.

Natural shelter building gives young people an insight into how nature can provide all we need to survive. Search and rescue practice develops leadership, team-work skills and communication skills. First aid develops empathy and compassion.

Young people get the chance to let go of all the gadgets they have become so attached to and explore unfamiliar territory. Physical movement keeps them active and being outdoors gives young people a chance to use their imaginations. This also knowledge also applies to adults.

A great man of the past once spoke these words.

Imagination is more important than knowledge – Einstein

Knowledge gained to create something out of nothing using only the materials that nature provides brings forth a sense of empowerment. Being in nature can enhance creativity, put the imagination in use and encourage problem solving. When there is no artificial stimuli to distract the mind or technology there to complete the effort, and being left to your own wits and devices makes you realise that the amount of energy you put into something, equals a more successful outcome.

Mistakes are made and re-adjusted instead of giving up and walking away from the situation. You are faced with only the natural environment, your mental strength and sense of will. You keep pushing and you keep going because you know that if you do not, you will not have a place to sleep and no shelter for when the sun goes down. If you haven’t collected enough fuel and got a fire going then it will be cold in the night, sleep will be uncomfortable and there will be no food on your plate.

Life initially becomes what you make of it.

Experiencing life in the wild also encourages the practice of environmental awareness. Engaging youth to natural ecosystems develops and enhances perceptions, conscious actions and mental awareness. It could also assist in helping create well-informed environmentally conscious adults for a healthier future.

Survival is not always about all the fancy equipment you possess or how big your bush craft knife is. Survival encourages having a strong mental attitude and a positive mind-set. Positivity and mental strength are vital in survival. ​In essence, there is not just a physical aspect to all the survival skills adopted but also a very clear mental development which can occur.

If there is an absence of connection to the natural world with young people today, than this may have an effect on their commitment and care to the environment as adults.

Try it out yourself by going back out into nature becoming conscious of the way it benefits your wellbeing mentally and physically. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a stroll down the beach, appreciating a twilit sky or even earthing/grounding. Be sure to get outside and connect with the natural world; the real world.

The majority of the wildlife in the UK is declining therefore it’s vital to reconnect the younger generations back to nature. Educating youth on the environment, sustainable living, conservation and wildlife expands consciousness and awareness to the natural world.

We seem to have forgotten about the world’s last remaining natural ecosystems which are rapidly declining. In the last 50 years, we have consumed half of the world’s rain forests. And for what?

We can never forget about the world’s woodlands, mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, rain forests, deserts, arctic regions and all the other magnificent landscapes mother earth offers. Even though many of us dwell in urban landscapes, these places still exist and govern our existence.

We must teach our children to love the untouched places of natural beauty. They need to be protected now more than ever.

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