Get to know our summer clubs
Last summer we worked in partnership with a number of community groups throughout Glasgow and Renfrewshire to offer summer clubs at the Commonwealth Woods legacy forests we look after.
The idea behind the summer clubs was to engage local children and their community group leaders in activities in the forest - showing that local woodlands are a great place to do fun, educational, healthy and affordable activities.
The summer clubs took place in Windyhill, Cardowan Moss, Auchenshuggle and Garscadden Wood – all of which offered a wide variety of terrain and habitat, and were spread over a variety of neighbourhoods and communities in Glasgow.
Around 50 people took part in the woodland-based activities led by contractors from Earth for Life. The activities followed the themes of:
- Get involved
- Get active
- Be inspired
A summer of fun
Weather conditions were variable across the programme, but primitive fire-making brought everyone together. Children especially were very engaged in learning the bushcraft and safety aspects of fire-making, and even more so in toasting marshmallows and cooking chocolate bananas!
Foraging activities brought a new dimension to food in the woods. Participants were taught the basics of safe, sustainable plant foraging and - for most - it was their first taste of wild food, free and available from their local woods.
As part of the 'get involved' theme, participants were encouraged to explore using all their senses, then find ways of mapping and communicating what they discovered using materials and object they found in the woods. This resulted in the creation of a 'woodland pizza' –a kind of compass and map combined to show what lay at various distances in different directions.
Teambuilding and exercise
The sense of camaraderie amongst the group was tangible. There was also bug-hunting, den building, making sculptures from woodland materials using 'natural clay' (actually biodegradable flour dough), camouflage and stalking games. Participants created their own unique interpretations of their woodland experiences through environmental art too.
With all the outdoor space to investigate and new experiences for the sense, the children needed little encouragement to 'get active'. Many relished the chance to explore the surroundings through both guided activities and 'free play' - a vital component in the programme. Free play encouraged natural and spontaneous healthy exercise, without the need for any equipment, other than what they found and created for themselves from the woodland environment.
Check out the videos to find out what participants and our partners had to say about the summer clubs…
Feedback on the clubs was fantastic. Some said it was a ‘valuable day of father-son bonding through bushcraft’ and one participant even suggested we ‘set up an alternative to the scouts’! We’re pleased the summer clubs offered new possibilities to children and their families for healthy, free and fun activities in peaceful places of natural beauty - within easy reach of their neighbourhoods. These woodlands provide vital spaces for facilitating positive cohesion between family members, peer groups and local communities. And we hope all those involved will return to the forests soon, for more of the same!