It is clearly evidenced (below) that Storms of 2020: Brendan, Ciara and Dennis have left their mark on DMS’s adventure school – as well as more widely and destructively around the country, of course.
Can we fix it?
Over the year we have patched up the shelter with taps, extra canvas, branches and home-made industrial strength tent pegs and guys. But as can be seen, we’re getting to the point were we need to think of a replacement. And a replacement is definitely warranted (and needed) as the shelter, and the general area we have developed into our Adventure School, provides an important role in encouraging people into the outdoors (to enjoy the benefits that being outside brings).
And so, as we move into the spring, the young people at Derrymount will be involved in a new Outdoor Learning Project called, Shelter 2.0.
And whilst plans are still a bit sketchy at the moment, the vision is for something initially like this (but bigger) …
That will ultimately be developed into something like this…
Well, OK… this might be a little ambitious (and too contained) but there’s no point in NOT dreaming big, is there… after all, that’s what dreaming is all about, isn’t it?
Forest School is alive and thriving at our Churchmoor Site. In our newly fenced off area at the top of site things are developing well despite the constant downpour creating some lovely mud baths for the young people.
We are incredibly thankful to the Alpkit Foundation for their support of our growing project in helping us to buy a new set of knives and flint and steels, a tree saw, some hammocks and our well-loved Kelly kettle. A lot of what we do with our young people wouldn’t be possible without the support charitable organisations that share our share vision.
Being outside in ALL WEATHERS is so good for our young people who face so many challenges in their lives, as it helps them to learn to cope in potentially uncomfortable environments trying new activities and learning new skills. Some of these young people would never be expected to take part in some of the activities that we provide and it is incredibly rewarding to see them grow and thrive in this very unique and unusual environment.
Being in the moment
When people talk about mindfulness as being ‘in the moment’, it all seems rather straight forward and therefore easy to achieve – doesn’t it? But truly being in the moment can be much harder to achieve than one might think. But why? Well, probably without out us each realising, our mind, or should I say our attention, is in high demand – largely due to our 24/7 technologically-connected lives. Modern living is taking its toll and it’s making it difficult for us to switch off, find calm and be in the moment. And the evidence to support the belief that our lack of awareness of, or attention to, the present is a major cause of poor well-being that can negatively impact on our mental health.
So where does climbing come in?
Well, anyone who has climbed before – indoors or outdoors – will probably agree that when you are on the wall, working out your feet and hand placements, navigating a route, you tend to be pretty focused (for obvious reasons). Often time at the climbing centre flies by. You become more aware of your body: which muscles you are using (are getting tired), your breathing and level of sweat, which part of your feet or fingers you are using to gain grip and purchase. Very rarely, when on the wall, do you think about checking your phone or wondering what to buy from the supermarket for dinner. Some people describe this lack of attention to things other than the act of climbing itself as being ‘in the zone’ or ‘in flow’. Others call it a heightened state of ‘mindfulness’. They all pretty much mean the same thing, I think: being completely in the moment … consciously in the present.
So, with this in mind, it became more apparent to a colleague and myself at Derrymount – responsible for our Adventure School provision – that climbing might be a fantastic activity to help our students to not only develop their physical skills, overcome fears and barriers, develop self esteem through the effort and determination etc etc (and the list could go on for a long time) BUT the act of climbing could also (maybe?) have positive outcomes on mental health and well-being – if developed, deliberately, as a mindfulness exercise.
Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
Anyway, it’s on a bit of a hunch and a ‘well we can at least try it’ attitude that prompted us to try and look into this a bit further. So, the plan …
In the second week in January 2020, we will be taking a group of young people on a weekly visit to Nottingham Climbing Centre where they will be introduced to climbing and receive a 1.5hr a week (for 7 weeks) period of instruction and opportunity to climb. We’ll encourage the students to be body aware, help them focus on the moment and try and gauge their thoughts, attitudes and awareness of themselves both before, during and at the end of the 7 weeks.
It’s going to interesting to see what impact climbing as mindfulness can have.
Thank you to Alpkit!
We are very grateful to the wonderful people at Alpkit for supporting our 7-week project. The Alpkit Foundation generously donated some money towards the costs of setting up this project, and for that we are very grateful.
NB. Anyone is free to make an application to the Alpkit Foundation, so perhaps a project idea you have might receive their support.
As part of our Adventure School activities we are planning to have a Big Sleep Out event in our outdoor classroom on Thursday 28th November 2019 (weather permitting) to support FRAMEWORK’s Big Sleep Out event. During this event a few selected young people who have agrees to participate will stay at school on the Thursday night and will take part in a variety of activities. By taking part in this event the young person will get an insight into how a homeless person sleeps in the evenings, as well as getting to experience some outdoor fun and learn new skills.
The young people would appreciate sponsors to help support them. This would also help boost their confidence during the event when it will be cold and wet outside. Please encourage family and friends to sponsor as well. Sponsor money can be sent to school.
Thank you for all your support
In music this week Zakk, Deuel and David watched a short film about a group of individuals who came together to write a song in order to save the planet from destruction by Aliens. This is what the lads came up with……
The power of the outdoors
One cannot under estimate the power of the outdoors.
Picture this: a sunny Autumnal day, a bunch of students who prefer being outdoors doing practical things to being indoors sat still, a school therapy dog who also prefers being outdoors, staff who again also prefer being outside, and an outdoor space that is an exciting and stimulating natural learning space. Add to the mix an opportunity for students to get ‘hands on’ to further develop this learning space to make it even better (as part of their DofE work), plus the opportunity to show responsibility, trust and the chance to demonstrate their abilities to work with others to prepare for, light and manage a small fire; and you have the perfect educational scenario:
- students intrinsically motivated to work collaboratively
- a stimulating learning space
- enthusiastic learning facilitators
- and … well, a therapy dog that quite simply just needs a trim.
You could call it the ‘perfect storm’ for a successful timetabled option where students who need outdoor time get their fix and soak in the therapeutic benefits as much as the vitamin D they get from being outdoors.
Maybe not bums on seats (in the traditional sense), but certainly smiles on faces 🙂
On 10th October Derrymount School went along to St Mary’s Church in Arnold to celebrate our Harvest Festival.
We collected an amazing amount of food which will be taken to the local food bank. The fresh fruit and vegetables will go to Emmanuel House and a refugee centre in Nottingham.
Some of our pupils performed on guitars as part of the service and others had brought their paintings of vegetables, salt dough, Harvest Sheaves, and Harvest poems to decorate the church.
Parents and carers also came along, and some came back to school for coffee and biscuits afterwards.
Margaret, the Vicar was really impressed with Derrymount and said we had given more than 20 big bags of food! A big thank you to everyone who helped and contributed something towards those who are in need.
We will be visiting Margaret again at St Mary’s in December for our Christingle.
Well done everyone!
DMS Duke of Edinburgh programme
Andrew and I are really pleased that that a number of students have persevered in a determined way towards achieving the DofE Bronze Award – which is no mean feat! Actually, at the time of writing, our first practice expedition is only a few days away and the first batch of DMS participants students will hopefully graduate in time before they leave.
Our second group will take their practice in July and final expedition in September, with a view of graduating before the end of this year’s DofE season.
We’re really proud of all of the students that have taken part this year and really hope to take more students through their Bronze and a group of 2nd year AS/DofE students through the Silver Award during our next academic year.
With the above in mind, we must say a massive THANK YOU to Jackie Bull at DofE Central for helping us secure some important funds to help us get our DofE (and Adventure School) programme up and running. Not only have we been able to purchase the kit we need to run the DofE programme, we have also been able to develop our Adventure School into a key part of DMS; DofE and AS provide valuable opportunities for our young people to get outside, get active and see and reach the potential that is within them (which is sometimes buried and needs uncovering).
Below are a few images of the students organising our kit, and wrestling with one of our expedition shelters when 8 of them were trying to get inside 🙂
The DofE future at DMS is up, but shhhhh… not too much rejoicing – it might upset the neighbour.
Thanks to our new tent stove (bought with funds from DofE Central), we have a warm and less smokey environment – with an extended covered area – that will help us keep working outdoors during the colder months.
Already enjoying the benefits
A lunchtime visit from students from our junior site resulted in smiles all round: archery, some moving of bark chippings, relaxing in the hammocks and bellies full of hot dogs all helped create a very enjoyable lunchtime for all. Speaking of dogs, Gryff played his part too.