Becoming a Volunteer Officer at TCV Skelton Grange

The Skelton Grange Environmental Centre and Conservation Volunteer project is one of our child friendly Leeds ambassadors and have provided regular updates on what has been going on for their volunteers through some amazing blogposts.

As we haven’t heard from them in a while, we asked Rosie Snowden, a young person who is currently volunteering at the centre, to let us know what she’s been up to and what is coming up over the summer holidays…

Young people enjoying a bushcraft activity at Skelton Grange

Young people taking park in a bush craft activity

“I chose a good time of year to start my Volunteer Officer training position at Skelton Grange Environment Centre – starting in May meant the place was bursting with life!  It was so lush and green, alive with colour and flying insects and birdsong, and bustling with activity. The activity of volunteers devoting their time to enriching the lives of others, bringing people closer to nature and making the site a haven for wildlife. I couldn’t believe it is in the middle of an industrial estate.

“I came to Skelton Grange to gain experience in practical conservation and for personal development through teaching children, to help me pursue a career in the environmental sector. In my second week I had the pleasure of helping with a Year 6 Survival Day, a celebration day for finishing Primary School where, instead of a trip to a theme park, the children are immersed in nature and encouraged to work as a team to survive on a ‘desert island.’

“The aim of the game was for a fun day out but with the added health benefits of being outdoors in the woods, building confidence and self-esteem through cooperating in various tasks. Activities included building a shelter to protect you from the impending localised storm, thinking creatively to solve problems like filtering muddy water, and learning new skills such as fire building and lighting to enjoy some fresh popcorn. It was an incredible way of getting the kids to feel comfortable and confident in nature and to enjoy the great outdoors.

“It’s the summer holidays but the fun doesn’t stop when school does. The Green Team continues to make improvements to site giving volunteers experience in practical conservation, gardening, wildlife knowledge, working outdoors and giving back to the community. The wildlife walks, led by Christina, are a particular highlight for me, increasing my knowledge on wildflowers, birds and small mammals. The volunteers really benefit from working in the fresh air, learning new skills and meeting new people.

“Summer has well and truly arrived at Skelton Grange bringing with it warm days and a multitude of ripening fruit.  I’m really looking forward to celebrating this plentiful season at the Summer Festival this Friday with nature arts and crafts, bush craft activities, fun, games and food! Plus, we’ll be spreading wildflower love with seed-bomb making, wildflower seed collection and a wildflower picnic.

“There is so much going on over summer and here are just some of the things I’m looking forward to getting involved in: the notorious Skelton Grange Spy Academy where groups of children are invited to learn the art of camouflage, stealth, intelligence gathering, code breaking and infiltrating the enemy’s stronghold. It really will be an extra special day of espionage. Bush craft days are as much fun for the adults as for the children; making dens in the woods takes nearly every adult on a nostalgic trip back to their childhood and the children are in their element. Shelter building, fire lighting, woodland crafts and environmental games amongst others brings out the children’s inner creativity and is an amazing way to make them appreciate nature.

I was recently taught how to whittle and made a whistle and a pencil and I’m really excited to pass this on to children at the Bush craft days. The Into the Wilderness a two day sleepover, which is set in beautiful woodland near Leeds, will see children making their own shelter then sleeping out in it. An amazing experience to really become at one with nature!

It's hard to believe Skelton is in the middle of an industrial estate!

It’s hard to believe Skelton is in the middle of an industrial estate!

“Plus wood-made campfire cooking and woodland games galore. I can’t wait. So popular it’s already sold out, the week-long summer play scheme sounds like the best kids club I’ve ever heard of. Tonnes of outdoor, fun and healthy activities including treasure hunts, whittling, construction projects and all kinds of arts and crafts making things out of natural things found on site I never thought could happen.

“One of the things I’ve noticed at Skelton Grange is the philosophy they hold of the importance of outdoor play and learning in the natural environment and they are running professional development courses for child-minders and schools to encourage this and support them.

“Skelton Grange is also running a number of short courses including a willow deer workshop, an autumn wild food walk and feast, a fungal foray and feast, a Mimika Theatre performance about the natural world, a Christmas lino printing workshop and a winter’s woodland trail with campfire. These courses provide an engaging gateway to get people to enjoy nature and environmental arts and crafts. Please refer to the Skelton Grange website for further information, dates and booking and let us know if you have any ideas or want to run a course on our site!”

A big thanks to Rosie for taking the time to write about her experiences!

There are plenty of fun activities going on at the centre over summer and you can check out full eventing listings, as well as opportunities for older young people to get involved in volunteering on the Skelton Grange website.

Are you involved in fun activities for young people over the school holidays? How can we get children more interested in environmental issues? Why not let us know on Twitter @child_leeds or by leaving a comment below…

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