We try to spend one day a week at Forest School. We come early, we stay late. Way late.
The kids climb trees, make dens, chase zombie farmers, play at the mud kitchen, get stung by nettles, cook over the fire, fight (and make up) with friends, swing on a tyre.
What do I do? A lot of laughing by the campfire.
Because at Forest School, kids are friends with kids who are friends with adults who are friends with adults who are friends with kids. We’re all on a first name basis.
There’s some babies, some toddlers, quite a few kids roundabout M and S’s age, and some older kids too. And mums, dads, aunts, grandparents, dogs.
The whole place is an autonomous romp through the woods and the afternoons- everyone chooses what to do, what delights them.
They get to take risks – starting fires, using knives, drilling holes in logs. They get to do big stuff – giant net forts, huge screaming games of running wild through the trees and fields, collaborative projects like the ‘summer house’ that’s been being created over the last month or so.
But more than that, it’s full of tiny magic moments. Those are the ones I think are the most important.
Two kids side by side on a swing, chatting. Someone playing alone with a bowl of water and some sticks. Sitting surrounded by friends while we eat lunch on the ground.
This week we spent eight hours breathing deeply in the fresh air. Eight hours laughing. Eight hours with campfire smoke and drama and sunlight.
It’s days like that I feel so grateful and connected and at peace. These moments are not tiny pieces of their childhood, it’s what most of their childhood is like.
As a friend said after this week, how lucky the children are.
Really, how lucky we all are.