Since life is pretty boring right now we thought we would update you on something exciting happening in Dempsey! We're working hard, along with so many wonderful volunteers, to bring you Singapore's first dedicated space for Forest School.
Our site is not only large, wild and teeming with life, but it boasts conveniences such as showers, chilled drinking water and a fabulous cafe! However, for fans, we may still bring along a thermos of coffee!
Campfires to end our term
We invited some of our groups to end their term with campfires at Dempsey. This was a real eye opener for us, seeing how the children used the space, how the adults interacted, how the fire pit worked and we tried out lots of new recipes, some successful and some a disaster! We recognise the need for nice, dry firewood for as little smoke on our fires as possible and we'll be sticking to quick-cook recipes to cut cooking time and exposure to smoke. There were obviously lots of new distractions for the children and these are all good - Forest School is child-led so it's OK for the children to engage in activities of their choosing instead of activities designed by the Leader.
Child-led exploration and play
We were excited to see the children engaging in the experiences available currently at our site. Exploring our jungle trails, checking out our Nature kitchen and balancing on our log courses. Some children loved wheeling tyres, others hiding in tyres, and some fetching buckets of water - this kind of gross motor play is natural and healthy for children.
At Forest School we use tools regularly. Being able to make something useful with our own hands and what we can find around us is empowering and builds confidence. Being introduced to the tools talks and safety briefings regarding tools and fires helps children to understand what it takes to keep themselves safe. With our regulation Forest School tools, plenty of wood, and natural resources we can provide more of these experiences for our families.
Naturally our customers are interested in what we will do in wet weather or thunderstorms. We all want to keep our children safe. Our wonderful volunteers helped us to put up our new 6m bell tent, large enough for 25 adults, on Saturday. Inside here we will have wet weather activities and a cosy reading corner. Outside, we will always encourage children to play in the rain, and our staff will be there to help them to make sensible choices when it comes to staying safe when it's wet.
For thunderstorms, we have access to a large brick pavilion structure at the front of the main Core Collective building, or we can use the sheltered verandahs each side of the main building. For the worst of the weather we can shelter fully indoors. We will have wet weather kits containing experiences for the children - including indoor games, stories and nature crafts. Exposure to adverse weather builds resilience, and ability to refrain from complaining about the weather conditions is an essential social skill!
Teaming up with OrcaNation
In tough times we are stronger together. The team from Orca Nation have been immensely generous with their time and skills and we will be collaborating on holiday programmes in the future to bring wild skills to older children in SIngapore, closer to home in our convenient Dempsey location.
Together we have cleared out our stream, supported NParks by clearing up a mosquito breeding ground of trash, and dug a wonderful nature paddling pool for our Wildlings. Wildlings could definitely not have made so much progress in such a short time without so much support from our community. FInd out more about OrcaNation here.
More updates to follow! Our wonderful nature space will be open to all to come and enjoy some authentic childhood experiences in nature in April. Combined with the onsite food and beverage options and our ability to comply with social distancing requirements or space will be available for families to provide a respite from isolation and indoor time, hopefully for many months to come.
Claire is an environmental scientist by training and an environmental sustainability consultant and educator by trade (aside from being a busy mum to two young (and sometimes wild) children). Claire enjoyed a very outdoorsy childhood collecting acorns, making daisy chains and sifting dirt to get the perfect pile. Once upon a time Claire was an enthusiastic ultimate frisbee player and recently taught pre-school sports classes. Claire is on a mission to help City kids experience a wilder childhood through the Forest School approach to learning and founded Wildlings offering Forest School and environmental education in Singapore to do this.