The Outdoors Group Forest School has stepped in to run Quarry Fields near Ilfracombe so local children can continue to play and learn outdoors.
This will be the fifth Forest School for the organisation which has established sites in Exeter, Exmouth, Tiverton and Okehampton. The opportunity arose after Tasha Greenwood, founder of Quarry Fields decided to step away from the business to pursue a new venture.
Nick Murphy, Forest School Manager says “We’re excited to take on Quarry Fields as our newest location. Tasha did her Forest School Leader Training with us and has worked really hard to develop the site and forest school sessions.
“With much of the groundwork already done we’ll be up and running quickly. We anticipate starting toddler club sessions after Easter and holiday clubs later in the year. We’re really looking forward to developing the site further and bringing in new employment opportunities for local people.”
Quarry Fields currently includes a campfire area with outdoor kitchen, sheltered educational area, a treehouse and sandpit, vegetable patch, woodland trail and a muddy play area where children can enjoy messy play.
“There are so many opportunities here for children and young people to have good old-fashioned fun, which at the same time helps them to develop skills, manage risks, think for themselves and learn to problem solve - all in a safe, secure outdoor environment,” explains Nick.
During the lockdowns, more people have come to recognise the importance of children getting outside, enjoying nature and outdoor activities whatever the weather.
“Children have been spending so much more time inside in front of screens and kept apart from their friends. The full impact of the pandemic on their mental health isn’t fully known yet, but at Forest Schools we can help to mitigate this by allowing them downtime and the chance to enjoy activities like climbing trees, building fires, enjoying creative play and making new pals.
“There’s a well-known saying that children are the future. At Ilfracombe, as with our other sites, we aim to give them the confidence and experience to succeed through the Forest School cornerstones: play, explore, discover and learn.”
The site is to be renamed Ilfracombe Forest School. Once open, sessions will include home education groups, holiday clubs and the hugely popular toddler clubs - referred to as the ‘Glastonbury’ of the organisation as they always sell out so quickly at other Forest School sites. There will also be opportunities to book children’s parties, and there are plans in the pipeline to offer family days plus retreat and rewilding weekends for adults.
Quarry Fields founder Tasha said that although she is sad to say goodbye, she is keen to encourage the local community to continue to support the site. “The Outdoors Group is epic and I wouldn’t be where I am without their awesome training programme. Quarry Fields was my baby and I put my heart and soul into developing and managing the site, but it is now time to move on not only professionally but as a family.
“I’d like to thank each of the amazing children, parents, carers and grandparents who have supported me. From the beginning I said that this is your Forest School and you truly make it what it is. The learning we have achieved together, the fun, the mud and the adventures will last me a lifetime and stay with me forever. Outdoor learning really is the best and I feel privileged to have worked and been a part of the journey.”