Tucked away in the woods amongst badger sets, birch & oak, we set out on an adventure…
Burn and Brae* is a year-round Wilderness School programme for home educated and flexi schooled young people between the ages of 8-14, based near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. It runs every Tuesday from 9am -3pm during the school term. As well as providing wild time in nature for young people, Burn and Brae is a weekly childcare option that offers parents a day to themselves whilst their children learn and explore with our qualified leaders.
*Burn and Brae means ‘hill and stream’ in Scots language
Why Wilderness School?
In an age of screens, urban living, and endless information we believe that spending time outdoors in nature is of great value to our young people. It nurtures wellbeing and confidence, and reconnects them to a sense of belonging that runs deep into human history. We know that our ancestors interacted with the natural world all the time and relied on it for everything they needed to survive and thrive. This legacy of wisdom and ability is inside all of us, and Wilderness School invites young people to rediscover it through play, learning and exploration. Our weekly sessions provide the chance to try new things and develop confidence in doing so and, most importantly, to make friends and have fun!
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What do we do at Wilderness School?
Learn… wilderness living and survival skills, how to make and tend fire, animal tracking, natural crafts, foraging for wild edible & medicinal plants, campfire cooking, ecology & wildlife, camouflage. Young people also learn about the complex network of natural life and how to take their place respectfully within it. In the widest sense, we are learning how to be good ancestors for those yet to come.
Play… our groups embark on team challenges, sensory immersion activities, nature based games, problem solving, den building, singing, hiding & sneaking, fire-side story telling and child-led play amongst the trees, streams, nooks & crannies of our wonderful Wilderness School site.
Connect…because this is a regular, small group there is a real opportunity to make friends. We focus on connection and working together rather than competition, and nurture skills of cooperation, communication and self- confidence. Space is also made for young people to connect more deeply with themselves as they take time out to dream and imagine, tune into the senses and just be themselves. It is wonderful to witness the gifts and passions that naturally emerge when given the chance.
Who runs Wilderness School?
Our Wilderness School leaders are Claire Godden and Leonie Morris. Both Claire and Leonie have many years experience as forest school leaders and nature mentors. Their training includes bushcraft instruction, outdoor first aid, playwork and child development. You can read more about Claire and Leonie here.
Claire Gooden: In 2009 whilst working as an “Outdoor Play Ranger” in a wooded country park I began my forest school training and was hooked. I’d found something that combined my love of play, child development (I had been a playworker for many years) &
environmental education with working outdoors and crafting with wood.
In 2012 I did an apprenticeship with woodsman Ben Law of Grand Designs fame and lived in a tiny wooden cabin for a year with no electricity; if I was going to be teaching woodland skills to people then I wanted to really know my stuff. During this time I got comfortable lighting fires in the rain with only birchbark for tinder, using tools and axes, learning which plants to forage, and reading the landscape for signs of animals.
I have taken many groups of children out in the woods over 10 years of being a forest school leader and each day is different. The woods have so much to teach us and so do the children- now that I’m a mum, I’m loving learning from my little one too as I watch him experience the world through fresh eyes.
Leonie Morris: A qualified Bushcraft Instructor, Forest School Leader and Wild Food Teacher, Leonie has over 10 years experience working outdoors with children and adults. She runs Burn and Brae Wilderness School in Hebden Bridge, after many years working with Manchester Forest School and The Wood School in Manchester, which provides a nature based learning experience for urban children.
After finishing a degree in Anthropology and Sociology and a Masters in Visual Anthropology, Leonie realised that it was being in nature that made her feel most alive. She began on the path of immersing herself in greenwood craft, foraging and fire making and she is keen to share all her learning and passion for nature with others.
Where is our Wilderness School?
Our base-camp is at Knott Wood, 1 mile outside of Hebden Bridge. At our camp we have a firepit and seating, compost toilet and covered geodome. We also have a community of beautiful trees, birds, mammals and plants that make this area feel like a wild getaway despite its safety and relative proximity to civilization. The cycles of nature can be observed and enjoyed away from roads and buildings and it is a joy to be able to hear the wind in the trees, the birds tweeting and the streams chuckling through gunnels and rocks.
Read more about how to get to our meeting point here.
We have a sliding scale of £29 – £45 per day depending on your family’s income. If you are eligible for Working Tax Credit childcare help, you get up to 70% back making it only £13.50 a day.
Young people can try for a month to see if it is a good fit.
To find out more about Burn & Brae Wilderness School or to book in for a taster session email firstname.lastname@example.org