Teeny explorers, except not so teeny as right from the start of the session each week, every child (and adult) is filled with the hope and belief that one day they will fly! What better message to be giving our young children, and in such an enabling environment, with space as far as the eye can see and the sky knowing no limits?
I grew up in an outdoor loving family in Birmingham with the Lickey Hills providing the backdrop for many happy childhood memories. When a friend told me about Teeny Explorers, I knew it was something I wanted to try with my little boy, I am so glad we did. One sunny Tuesday morning in February, H and I put on our wellington boots and waterproofs and embarked on an adventure that was about to become something that we would look forward to every week. In that morning alone we experienced storytelling, hill rolling, searching for early signs of spring and creating artwork from beautiful resources nature had given us.
Each week we embark on a new adventure, from journeying through the Giants Land, crossing bridges without waking Trolls, searching for dragons, following animal trails and marvelling at mother nature and how she has changed over the weeks/months. Each week we explore the same park, but nature in all its glory always has something new to offer, always inspires a new story, invites a new question, sparks a new adventure, something that cannot always be as easily achieved indoors.
H has learnt that stumps are not just where a tree has been cut down, they are where a tree has provided a new challenge, “see a stump and you have to jump”. We are never allowed to cross a bridge, on foot, unless we have howled like a wolf, “we don’t want to sound like a Billy Goat!” Hills were designed to roll down, a skill that has now been practised in many of Birmingham’s parks and further afield. We very rarely follow a path as H has been filled with confidence through Teeny Explorers to explore off the beaten track, you never know what you are going to discover. Each session fills H with excitement but, when you ask him about his favourite memories of Teeny Explorers he will always talk of the sessions when we use ‘baby dragon sparks’ to make a fire and heat hot chocolate to drink with marshmallows.
Teeny Explorers quickly became our escape from the busy working week, time to spend together in a special place, “My Lickey Hills” (H’s words) come rain or shine! I will be forever grateful to Teeny Explorers for filling H with confidence, curiosity about the world around him, and the eagerness to explore further than his eyes can see.
Parks need people, people need parks, children need opportunities to experience the magic of our parks.