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