Outdoor Education

Archie learned a valuable lesson last night. He decided to go off into the woods on the edge of the hill ground to test his new jungle hammock and basha (also known as a tarp or bivi). It’s a way of sleeping outdoors which raises you off the ground and makes for a lovely airy sleep. So much better than a stuffy tent. He chose last night as it was blowing a hoolie and raining buckets. Whilst experienced with this system in good weather he’d never actually used it in poor (read atrocious) weather. His mistake was not to tie ‘drip strings’ on to his hammock straps. I had forgotten to mention it and obviously Magnus never had. Needless to say the puddle which formed in his hammock was a salutary lesson; one he won’t forget.

This got me to thinking about education and the value of allowing children to make their own mistakes and also the value of outdoor and adventure training. As you may know if you have read Windigo Archie goes to a school which places great value on Adventure training and getting kids out of their comfort zones. I have seen this pay huge dividends in terms of confidence and resourcefulness and I would urge everyone to encourage their children to get involved in Duke of Edinburgh schemes, Outward Bound, Scouts & Guides or similar, wherever possible. I know not everyone has the opportunity and I would love it to be so but if you have the chance, do!

I thought too of my own childhood, running free from dawn to dusk in the long Highland summer days, pockets knives and boats, dogs and catapults, fishing rods and skinned knees. We were feral, but we learned things. We learned that it was not a good idea to fall out of trees, to poke an adder or to not duck when the boom swung over. As the Walker children’s father put it so well in Swallows and Amazons ‘If not duffers, won’t drown’.