Feeling both excited and curious for what the next few days might bring, I headed off to Waterloo to meet a new group of people - ten young dynamic faces greeted me along with another intern, Hannah and photographer volunteer, Caroline. Following the retreat coordinator Rachel, with tickets in hand we boarded the train to Tisbury, in Wiltshire.
As we passed fields of varying shades of green, yellows and browns. The changing landscape reminded me of previous family camping trips I had experienced throughout my childhood and suddenly it hit me that for some of the young people on the retreat this might be their very first trip to the countryside and it hit me how truly special that was!
Off the train and out of the tiny station, wheeley baggage, pristine clothes and trainers started to look out of place…
We arrived at the farm, along a dirt track, which lead to an intricate unknown haven - everyone seemed wide-eyed and inquisitive. The space was perfect, the camp lined with gorse bushes creating secluded paths and openings snaking towards tree-covered green patches, making up our own little tent habitats in the middle of a beautiful landscape. Susie, the amazing camp chef arrived bearing afternoon tea - complete with scones, clotted cream and jam!
Once settled into camp, a group effort enabled the yurt to be readied for our first group session. Rachel introduced the "I, We and The Planet" theme of Global Generations work with everyone choosing a key value to have in mind for the duration of the retreat. These included bravery in the presence of bugs, loyalty between new friends and confidence within new and unfamiliar surroundings.
That evening, as I lay snuggled in my sleeping bag, oblivious to the cold, I found myself unexpectedly quickly, drifting into a deep sleep… the melodies of the wind, clicking of the insects and shuffling of the birds was a natural lullaby to my ears. However, this unfortunately didn’t seem to be the case for some of the other campers... An early SILENT morning walk helped to refresh sleepy, lethargic eyes and unanimously brought us into a wider and more mindful head space. We all headed on our own path across a wild flower field, using all our senses fully to capture and embrace the environment around us…
The group came to rest, sitting in a circle surrounded by nature and became engrossed in freefall writing.
We then in groups got hands-on with the environment around us, some foraged for nettles, others helped maintain our compost toilets and my group re-organised the firewood shed. This was a job requiring lifting and stacking and a level of perseverance! Esther and Carlos took it in their stride using conscientious thinking to ensure the fire lighting material was stored in a dry space and easily accessible.
That afternoon we had a tour of the farm, I had eagerly anticipated learning more about the organic processes and the differences to normal farming. I was enlightened by crop rotation cycles and the clover nitrogen-fixing fields and we all had a chuckle at the free range cow’s slightly annoyed expression… which I couldn’t help reminding me of a similar expression that had been on the faces of the young people within the group, when they were required to surrender their phones for the whole three day duration!
Our final evening was absorbed in story by the fire - the brilliance of a circular energy aided a group revelation, that in fact, we may not need this constant stream of modern technology we seem so immersed in back in London.
This simple and effective thought seemed to resonate throughout the last night and into the next morning, as we were tucking into delicious golden pancakes topped with raspberries - foraged on the first day by the group, the connection to the world around us seemed to be much clearer. And the connection within the group, a force between each individual and a togetherness had been formed. And so the last silent walk of the trip encouraged some magical and mindful words to be transferred from pen to paper, this time with the forethought of how an individual could help in making this world a better place…
The three day experience not only filled my lungs with much needed fresh air and my head with befitting clarity it also reflected my time at global generation so well. The excitement and unknowing of a new experience paired with the warmth and knowledge of courteous colleagues. The endless inquiry and inspirational forward thinking of young people and the rewarding feeling of being part of something truly unified and meaningful. My on-going adventure as a general intern at Global Generation is deepening my exploration into environmental awareness, and in turn, developing my understanding of the type of work I would like to continue to be part of.
By Jemma Chamberlain-Webber (Skip Garden Intern)