A summer of fun and adventure on the bogs

Friday, 26th September 2014

~~My last Blog post was back in June as I was preparing for our summer activities on the Wetlands and in particular the Solway Nature Explorers camps, as we now approach autumn it is an opportunity to reflect on what has been a fantastic and busy summer.

Having had a little bit of time off to recover I can now say that I had brilliant time with the Solway Nature Explorers; it was fun, exciting and inspirational and I miss them all! Just to recap the Solway Nature Explorers programme consisted of three 4 day long day camps, with 15 young people on each camp exploring the flora, fauna and landscape of the Solway from our base at Campfield Marsh RSPB reserve. The Nature Explorers enjoyed a packed programme of nature discovery, exploration, adventure and creative arts during their weeks on the bogs and a good time was had by all.

A significant contribution to the success of the Solway Nature Explorers weeks was the involvement of colleagues from our partner organisations who shared their time and expertise. Special thanks should go to Norman and Dave from the Campfield RSPB reserve, they hosted us for the three weeks and contributed throughout the programme with their expertise and knowledge of the reserve.  Thanks are also due to Sue Woodland from Natural England for leading us on an exploration of Finglandrigg Woods and Geoff McCarthy from Tullie House who not only helped out with some bug hunting on the reserve but also brought some giant bugs including Hissing Cockroaches, Giant African Snails and huge Stick Insects from Blackpool Zoo for us to handle. We were very lucky to partner with the Britain from Above - Borders Project in delivering a creative arts strand to the Nature Explorers programme using the Britain from Above aerial photography as inspiration. The Explorers were introduced to photography, stencilling and lino cut printing by Emma and Michael from Tan by Two studio, the culmination of this strand has been the construction of an art installation bridge on the reserve, the formal opening of which was a couple of weeks ago on the 6th September – you can read more about this on the RSPB blog here http://tinyurl.com/RSPB-Blog. A final thank you is due to Vicky here in our team; from last minute orders of the equipment we required, managing the many telephone calls and booking enquiries from parents to chasing up a million other details in the planning of the week’s her help was invaluable.

The greatest appreciation is reserved for the young people who participated in the programme, they were without exception a pleasure to get to know and spend time with. It was great to see how they not only got on with each other but also supported and helped each other through the activities. The engagement with the activities and learning on offer was impressive as was, in many cases the knowledge participants came with and shared. However my abiding memory of the weeks is the fun laughter and energy we enjoyed across all three weeks, it certainly kept me going through some pretty exhausting weeks! If you would like to see more photos of the Nature Explorer weeks including photos and video from the camera traps the Explorers had out across the reserve check out our new Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/solway_wetlands/ and go to the “Albums” tab.

So what comes next? For Solway Nature Explorers we are committed to not only delivering further programmes next year but also offering follow up activities for this year’s participants; a Solway Nature Explorers Club of sorts with a loose programme of opportunities throughout the year. I am currently putting together a “Bogsploration” day for the Explorers, with the irrepressible Alasdair Brock from Natural England, to take place next month with further activities to follow.

With the excitement of summer now over I am hoping to progress some of the other areas of my role including promoting our Solway Wetlands Community Grants Scheme (find out more at http://www.solwaywetlands.org.uk/solway-wetlands-community-grants ), building closer links with community groups and parish councils across the project area and making a start on some exciting new learning projects including construction of a Clay Dabbin building at Holme St Cuthbert School. More details on all these projects to come soon.

See you on the bog!