Apologies for the vernacular, but it's the easiest way to describe my dilemma!
I'm part of a volunteer group that runs what are effectively scout camps for "Young People at Risk of Social Exclusion" called the Essex Experience, which are coordinated and supported by Essex Scouts.
The aim is to provide these youngsters with some extra social confidence, and allow them to try some new and exciting things: Climbing, archery, air rifle shooting, canoeing, circus skills etc. These guys and girls are all from the urban/suburban areas in Essex and from a variety of backgrounds, but have all been put forwards by their schools as candidates - perhaps if their parents neglect them (or are in jail!), if they've had a traumatic childhood, they're struggling at school, they've had too many ASBO's, the list goes on. Fair to say though that they have potential, but they've never been allowed to nurture it and have gone a bit astray. There's not much that's more satisfying than when you find someone diagnosed with ADHD sitting calmly next to an Autistic kid by the campfire singing old songs of their own will and volition (for more than 5 minutes..!)
Now, we're racking our brains for things to do with the kids during the periods when there are no formal activities, and in the evenings. I wondered if any of you had some suggestions? I know it's a bit hypocritical when we're saying that we want these kids to feel trusted and responsible, but I don't think anything to do with knife work would be allowed, and I'm a little bit concerned that teaching them how to light fires would mean the firey destruction of most of Southern Essex. Perhaps a gentle easing in to the easy country life - I thought maybe a foraging challenge? Give them some pictures of leaves/plants with a description of what they're used for then send them to go and find them?
Also, if anyone else fancies lending a hand, let me know - they're always looking for volunteers. The camp runs on the weekends of the 10th and 17th of September. If you want to volunteer some of your time to run an activity session, I'm sure you'd be welcomed with open arms. If you want to spend the whole weekend with a group of the kids as a mentor, you'll have to go through a week of training between those dates and they'll run you through a CRB check, so you'll be ready for anything. It really is very rewarding.
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