The boys have always enjoyed being outside. In fact I would say that while both of them love their computers and video games, there is nothing they enjoy more than messing about in the great outdoors. As far as M is concerned, since he started nursery, and has continued through school, it has often been commented about that he is much happier when he is outdoors.
We have been to Haven many times over the past few years, and one of the things the boys have always enjoyed is the nature walk. It has previously always been a session taken by one of the play leaders, and they wander a group of children around the park, looking for birds, and plants, and marking them down on a work sheet. It has always been interesting and one thing the boys expect to do.
This year however it has all change. When going through the entertainment timetable, there was no nature walk. Neither boy was happy. Then we saw something called Nature Rockz – don’t talk to Hubby about the name of the sessions as he gets quite upset by people using a “z” instead of a “s”. It didn’t give too many details but said additional information was available at the booking point. After swimming, I went to find out about it, and booked the boys up for the three daily sessions – each afternoon for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
The first session was a bug hunt – sounded perfect for two boys who love getting mucky! The instructor was a scary sight, in full combat gear and make-up! Ranger Steve. He kept the kids in line, but his enthusiasm was amazing, as he got the kids to introduce themselves – M introduced himself to his shoes. He then marched the kids over to his hideout in the woods – parents could go if they wanted to, so we did, just in case they weren’t happy with somebody they didn’t know. They were talked through the environment and the type of creature they were looking for and likely to find, before being let loose to find them and get the dirtiest hands possible – M took the dirty hands part very literally and I believe that was a higher priority to him than finding the bugs! There was great excitement amongst the kids as the first woodlouse was found, but soon all the kids were getting millipedes, worms, wood weevles, snails, and more woodlice, in their jars. D had a few problems as he is still very aware of his knees so getting down to the dirt wasn’t that easy for him, but he happily pulled bark off dead pieces of wood to see what was under it.
The next day I forget how many times I was asked when we would be seeing Ranger Steve, and we were actually at the meeting point about half an hour early than the time, because they didn’t want to be late! M spoke out much easier today, and told Ranger Steve that his favourite thing was getting his hands dirty!!!! Today the kids were building a bug hotel. They had to think about the type of things the bugs like to live in naturally, as so what they could use to make an environment that would make them happy. Using old pallets, and cardboard they then added dirt, leaves and wood, before finding bugs to stay in the hotel! Mucky hands were again order of the day. Once more two totally engaged boys loving the information being fed to them.
The last session was the one D had been looking forward to most as it was about making a fire, and then toasting marshmallows! It was a very interesting session and I think Hubby learned as much as the kids, so I can only imagine the next barbecue we have will be a real adventure and not just firelighters and matches!!!! M wasn’t so sure about the burnt, I mean toasted marshmallows, but D loved them and has insisted we buy marshmallow for next time we barbecue!
They were great sessions which were totally the highlight of the holiday for the boys. It was great to see the boys welcome someone in so easily because their knowledge and enthusiasm was infectious. For him to engage two ASD boys so completely was amazing to see and just shows that enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. The boys are already talking about seeing Ranger Steve again when we go back in October so I am hoping he will still be there!!!