Nestled in an ancient woodland lies Reddam house school, a Hogwart-esque building with the grandeur of a sizeable stately home. The perfect location to host a bushcraft camp for the pupils leading up to Christmas. Typically, the build up to Christmas is quiet for Polaris Outdoor on the schools front as they are winding up to the end of term and is in most cases the busiest time of their year. However, 2020 was not like any other year as we all know and the pupils were in desperate need of some outdoor fun and epic adventures.
What a fantastic week we had with Reddam house! It was high energy for almost every minute of every day. The youngest in attendance was 4 and the oldest was 13 so we catered for a wide range of capabilities every day. What impressed us most about the students was their ability to mingle across the age groups and support one another. We had particular student stood out as being exceptionally helpful throughout the whole week. Plus another whose passion and commitment to learning new skills was exemplary and infectious – such a curious little bean.
This was a fabulous week to remember and the students enjoyed it so much we have been asked back again for Easter to run another week which we are looking forward to. This occasion will be progressive for the pupils and they will build upon the skills they have already learnt. Among some of those skills are: fire lighting and sourcing materials and fuel, foraging, search and rescue, first aid, Spoon carving and more.
Take a look at the below video to see some of the highlights of the week:
A closer look at the features of a live female stag beetle. Find out about where they live, what they look like and what you can do to help this nationally scare beetle to survive and thrive. Half way through we switch to a macro lens to see the features up very close. Find out more about stag beetles and join in with the Great Stag Beetle Hunt at The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)
Latin name Lucanus cervus
3-7 years as a larva that eats only decaying wood underground. They are great in the garden as they don’t attack living plants or timber. They can grow up to 110mm long!
Adult beetles can’t eat and don’t live long. They are usually seen between May and August.
The males have mandibles shaped like antlers – hence the name Stag Beetle.
Males can fly about 500m but females rarely move more than 20m from where they emerge.
Extinct in some European countries!
Staying Grounded in Time of Uncertainty
Sam has just written a great blog post on staying grounded and helping our wellbeing during this uncertain time. Check out his easy to try activities to find joy in the simple things in life: eat a meal mindfully, connect with the natural world, get creative.
Sam is our Polaris Outdoor Psychotherapist and has been a great help to both the team and all of our customers during lockdown. Drop us a message if you’d like a chat.
Plant Profile – Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Sam set a challenge to identify this plant… he was a bit mean and didn’t include the flowers! Well done to Mhairi Hughes for guessing correctly.
Herb Robert is a member of the geranium family which all have a distinctive strong smell (some say it’s horrid, others like it!), when the leaves and stems are crushed. This scent is said to keep insects away – just rub on the skin.
Small Pink Flowers (8-12mm) with 5 petals, 10 stamen and 5 stigmas, divided leaves (6cm) and reddened stems. For more images see The Wildflower Finder Website.
Often called Crane’s Bill due to the shape of the developing seed pods: the pods have an explosive catapult mechanism which widely disperses the seeds.
Mainly used as a medicinal – good for reducing inflammation, antispetic, nosebleeds, used for diarrhea (it contains geraniin) and prevent kidney stones/ gall stones. Flowers, leaves and roots can all be used in teas and fresh in salads.
You can pick and chose between historical folks who it is said to honour: Saint Robert of Molesme, an 11th-century herbalist, abbot, and founder of the Cistercian order; Robin Goodfellow, pseudonym for the forest sprite “Puck” or the bandit Robin Hood.
It is a nectar and food source for many invertebrates including: barred carpet moth, bees, hoverflies and the wood white butterfly. All of them have long mouth parts to reach the nectar. If you are interested in finding out more about food source plants for butterflies you can find a big list on the UK Butterflies site.
We can’t wait to see you all soon. In the meantime we hope you enjoy the sunshine and discovering new things outdoors each day.
Thanks for joining us on our social media this week, here’s a sum up of all the things we have been discovering, making and chatting about…
The Great Camp In/Out by DadsNet
Mat ran two very well received classes online for Dadsnet – firecraft and knifecraft. You can watch them on Facebook. Mat also takes questions from the live audience and you can even find out his favourite colour!
Find out how to make fire in six different ways, two techniques to successfully use a firesteel, preparing firewood, gathering kindling, and choosing the right fire lay.
Knife and Axecraft
Learn how to be safe while chopping firewood, discover the different types of knife, be aware of knife laws, then see a step-by-step guide on making a spatula.
A fabulous resource and community to help… “Every dad equipped, connected & entertained. We’re passionate about making parenting easier whether that’s through a quick laugh to help you escape those stressful moments, a top notch recommendation or simply introducing you to a like-minded dad.“
They have helpful groups for various interests, regional groups and support for all situations. Each year they run a camp which we are thrilled to be invited to, hopefully next year we will be able to see you all in person again.
Mat collects tinder
Collecting tinder is a really important part of the preparation for making a fire. Knowing where to go to find this important resource is a good idea. Dead grass, dead bracken fronds, silver birch bark and western red cedar bark are all found and discussed in this video. Remember the key to tinder is dry, fibrous and fine materials: it needs to be fluffed up as much as possible to get oxygen in. Lots of top tips here.
Enjoy a moment of peace and birdsong in our local woods. Can you identify any of the birds singing in this video?
The RSPB bird identifier is a great ID resource with 408 species of birds found in the UK (and some rare overseas visitors).
My personal favourite ID app on iphone is Birds of Britain by natureGuides Ltd. It’s an old one but it’s fab with lots of calls & songs sounds and so much information it feels like having a library in your pocket. The new version of it is contained within Birds of Northern Europe App.