Partnership opens up outdoors to schools

Giving children the chance to learn in the outdoor environment of rural north Northumberland is at the heart of a new initiative for schools.

Wooler Youth Hostel and Shepherds’ Huts has teamed up with Journey to Self, a locally-based social enterprise, to introduce more children to the benefits of outdoor learning.

The two groups have created a series of days aimed specifically at schools, connecting outdoor learning with curriculum-based lessons in and around Wooler.

Neil Wilson, of Wooler Youth Hostel, said: “It makes perfect sense for us to team up with Journey to Self, to combine our experience and expertise to create this unique new learning package for schools.

“We already cater for schools year-round who are seeking adventure in the north Northumberland countryside.

“Now, with Journey to Self, we’re able to give more children the chance to enjoy the benefits of learning in the outdoors.”

The hostel’s facilities work well with Wooler-based Journey to Self’s vision of reaching more children through curriculum-based outdoor-learning experiences.

Journey to Self was set up by qualified teacher and outdoor leader, Maxine Lock, who is passionate about the benefits of outdoor learning. She is currently studying its effects at post-graduate level at Cumbria University and its importance in helping to develop young people’s sense of place and identity.

She said: “As I child, I was lucky to grow up in a small village where I had the freedom to spend hours playing in the local stream, woods and fields.

“As an adult, I began to reflect on the value of those experiences and realised the importance of them, not only to develop useful skills, but also in other ways such as increasing confidence and self-esteem.

“Now through this partnership with Wooler Youth Hostel and Shepherds’ Huts, I’m hoping more young people will be able to enjoy the lasting benefits that this kind of experience can offer.”

The outdoor-learning courses can be tailored to suit curriculum requirements and can cater for up to 30 children.

They include: One-day navigation, incorporating orienteering and geocaching; supervised walk days, covering navigation and map-reading; local wildlife habitats, exploring pond, river and moorland and a day at the beach, investigating rock pools.

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