Written by Coach Shimin, Part-Time Coach for Thornbill Thursday
Yes, the Forest School team is so committed, we seized the Deepavali holiday to squeeze in a half-day internal training.
It is actually challenging to be able to gather most, if not all, of our coaches and team together for our trainings. As a relatively new coach, I always try my best to make it if I could, so that I can tap on the experiences of the other coaches, and also revise the important basics like tools and safety know-hows.
Being the “quiet presence” for our children in Forest School, we need to also be physically fit and able to react swiftly and calmly should any emergency occurs in the natural environment. The beauty of the forest is how there is always so much to explore and learn; and the unpredictability of the forest is also why as coaches, we have to be on “silent alert” at all times as well.
So, to be physically strong and agile, we did the most basic training ever – jogging around Mayfair Park (our base home), testing ourselves through an obstacle course (the fitness corner), shuttle runs along the basketball court (in the sweltering heat), and finally the ultimate Captain’s Ball game show-down (which I am pathetic in with zero competitiveness). Doesn’t that sound like your NAFA fitness test and old-school sporting activity of oh-so-many-years ago? *nostalgic*
Luckily, the heat drove us to finally sit down for the second half of the training. First up is skills and craft. We revised our tool-talk on how to use a knife, and guiding kids to do so. We got creative with some rope-tying and numerous sticks, and shared on what our resulting structures meant to us (there was one for crab-catching, a boomerang, a wearable-art sling bag, an atomic structure, and lots more…). We then went through our basic first-aid kit – a must-have for every Forest School coach! – and debated on how and when to use, and did hands-on safety training and protocol for emergency situations. Our 2 willing children volunteered to be “casualties” as we “rescued” them from scenarios such as snake bite and an injured elbow.
It is far too easy to forget such knowledge, so with our real sharing of experiences, such as Darren’s varied stories from Forest Schools in other countries like the UK and Medan, and bonding together to recap the essential information, it was a lot to take in within just a few hours. But with our characteristically open culture of sharing and discussing, I felt a stronger connection with our passion and with my fellow coaches. Plus, I had the unexpected bonus of bonding even more with our 2 young friends over lunch and we spontaneously decided to form our own artist team! That is Forest School philosophy working at its very best – learner-directed, lively combustion to throw up what is our hearts’ desire, and daring to venture into new things.