YOU’VE become lost in the wilderness, it’s getting dark and the temperature is dropping – would you know how to survive?
A group of twelve-year-olds at Robert Blake Science College would know exactly what to do to create shelter, make a fire and find their way home.
For the past few months the school has been running a ‘Bush Craft’ course which teaches students essential survival skills, resilience and teamwork.
Hazel Morris, Flexible Learning Centre manager, said: “I learnt the course by doing forest school leaders’ training at Bridgwater College.
“Our eight-week course here is for students who have behavioural issues, social issues or just need help focusing on their work.
“It teaches navigation skills, shelter building and how to create fire in a safe and effective way.
“If they focus and do well in class, they get to take part in the activities and eventually test their skills at Great Wood. If they don’t, then they watch and make notes.”
Boys and girls take part in the activities. I went along to a fire-lighting class which saw students get separate fires going with matches, a flint and a bow drill.
The girls had the largest fire using matches - which is a lot harder than it sounds when you’re doing it from scratch – and the boys created small fires with the flint and kindling. The bow drill was unsuccessful, but if a group of grown men took eight hours to succeed with one on Bear Grylls’ The Island, it was unlikely our little group would.
Older students helped the younger ones by teaching them how to find the right sized wood for the fire and how to get it started.
Nickey, 12, said: “Bush Craft definitely helps us work together more. I’ve had a lot of fun right from the start. It also helps us be more motivated to complete our homework.”
Liam, 12, said: “We’ve learnt to use different knots in shelter building. The skills also help me in class because I work better in a team.
“It’s also made me more resilient because if I don’t succeed right away I won’t give up and I’ll keep trying.”
Deputy head teacher Gregg Morrison said the course has been really successful.
“It’s helped students a lot,” he added. “They learn personal skills, resilience to learning and how to work together and tackle problems.”
Survival skills might sound like an odd thing to teach in school, but next time you’re trying to get the chiminea in the garden to light – you might want to call over the kids.