Lumpy Hill Children's Camp at Pertwood Organic Farm

Just as I was starting to worry I see a van shoot past the little opening in the gorse which marks the beginning of the track to the hideaway location of our campsite. Luckily they see me. The van is loaded to the gills with cases and children of all ages. They come tumbling out.  The eldest is thirteen and the youngest three are six. One of the smallest, proudly bears a broken arm. From the get go I feel the strength of the connection between the children and the three play workers, Kerry, Jordan and Charlie and I know they are in good hands and it will be a great camp – an adventure for us all.

It’s my first time camping in the outdoors and it’s the best place I’ve ever been to in my life so far because I’m only 10.
— Lois

The idea of the Lumpy Hill camp had arisen out of the Youth and Play workers training that Global Generation has been running for Islington organisations. The training sessions have been an opportunity to share our reflective practice; story, silence and stillness - creative writing finding values for how to live in the natural world.  This was a next step. How could we help embed some of this work into other organisations? We also wanted to learn from the practices of other organisations, for example Play Work is a central philosophy at Lumpy Hill.

Even though many of the children had never left London, let alone Islington before, it was a treat to be with a group so strongly acclimatised to outdoor play. Lighting fires and making dens in trees was second nature to them. Very soon they had blended themselves into the land and the profound sense of stillness that pervades Pertwood seemed to work its magic on the children. Though out the two days we spent together we made time for the children to write about their experience. 

Pertwood makes me feel calm, relaxed and happy. We tell stories and rest together. I wish we could stay here longer...
— Bob
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The land says to me I am precious. It makes me feel peaceful and nature is about connecting with the world. Nature is the beautiful work of the world
— Lois

We began with thinking about the story of ourselves, what it meant for us to all to leave the city behind. By identifying the qualities and values they experienced in this new place the children began to listen for and tell the story of the land.  

The land says to me listen to the birds, it is a wonderful sound to listen to. The birds are singing their songs. Their beautiful wings stretch every time they sing. It makes me feel relaxed, calm and every time I hear it, it makes me jolly!
— Jade

The stories in the land revealed for many of the children the ways in which nature is family.

Nature is my family and it is my home too. It has some creatures like spiders and birds and ants and an owl in the night that howled all night long.
— Sophie
Nature is all the same as us. It breathes like us, moves like us and stays still like us.
— Lois
Nature is my family because when I watched the sun go down I felt so happy and felt at home. Nature is my family because I want to do helpful things like not killing the bugs in our tent. I grab the insects with my hands with a bit of space so they don’t die and put them in the wild again. If we did not have nature we would not be here right now.
— Jade
It feels nice when my feet are touching nature because I feel like I just put new blood in me and I feel refreshed. Nature is my family because when I am close to nature it draws me in and I have so many questions to ask.
— Jade

Big thanks to Wilfred, Joanne, Chris, Nic, Nick, Pete, Tim and all of the folks at Pertwood who provide so much support to make it possible for Global Generation to keep the campsite going, whether it be sorting out blocked water pipes, providing a secure and safe space for children or getting to know the cows and the sites of Neolithic peoples on the legendary farm tours. The experiences at Pertwood travel back with us to London and make it a little bit easier to feel the quiet, the connection and the curiosity beneath the noise and the concrete of the city streets.

Pertwood makes me feel happy and curious ...happy because I am let loose and curious because I have so many questions to ask about the creatures in the land. Pertwood also makes me feel calm and relaxed. Calm because everyone is quiet and relaxed because you get the gentle breeze on you.