Year 5 Forest School Survival Day at Sheringham Park:

Tuesday 5th February saw Year 5 taking a stroll in the woods. Not just any stroll; a walk on the wild side! Students were treated to a day of survival at Sheringham Park led by the National Trust. Their day began by learning that to survive in the wild, and for the day, they would need to consider air, shelter, water and food.

Having understood their priorities, they set about learning how to tie knots, how else would they secure their tarpaulin to the trees? The special knot was a constrictor knot (not to be used on people).

The children were then given a tarpaulin for their groups and asked to create a shelter within a restricted but undisclosed time limit. And there were some wonderful inventive shelters indeed. At this point the National trust Forest School Teachers praised the children for their excellent teamwork and their manners when speaking with the adults. Something they assured us, was only present with very few of the groups they encountered.

The shelters were, of course, tested with great vigour. They were graded for design as well as being tested for ‘weather resistance’ (They were shaken until failure and then had water poured all over them). The next problem was water. Water in temperate climates, and especially in winter, is plentiful. But how to make it clean? The answer of course is boiling it, and what better way to boil a kettle outdoors than with a fire. So next was a fire making lesson.

There was varying success with fire building some made a fire that stayed alight for a couple of minutes but one group kept their fire going for over thirty minutes. With the kettle now steaming, there was only one thing to do and that was to make hot chocolate, which was enjoyed by all. Food was our next challenge. We had to decide which foods were poisonous and which were safe to eat. This was a very difficult task and none of the children would have survived if they had eaten the selection of foods that they chose as being safe to eat!

Our day ended with a walk in the woods where our teacher took us foraging for various foods, explaining their merits as we went. From the poisonous Yew tree to the disinfectant properties of pine the short walk gave us plenty of new information that, if ever the need arose, we might last that little bit longer in the outdoors. The day was tiring but thoroughly worthwhile. The benefits of an outdoor education can not be denied.