Box Moor Trust provides opportunity for children to connect with nature

In April, pupils from Chaulden Infants and Chaulden Junior Schools spent a very special day out of their classrooms. In collaboration with another local charity, Waterways Experience, The Box Moor Trust hosted a day of pond dipping, bird watching and a boat trip down the canal.

Over a period of six days, a total of 275 pupils took part in outdoor activities designed to help them connect with nature. When they walked to Gadespring Cressbeds (near Camelot Rugby Club) from their school, the children were greeted with a large education barge and the Trust’s newly built pond dipping platform. Organised into small groups, the children took it in turns to catch tadpoles and other pond life, bird watch from the hide, engage in a nature walk and enjoy a boat trip. As well as having lots of fun, they learnt about wildlife and nature, which form part of their science and maths curriculum.

Box Moor Trust Chairman David Kirk said that connecting children with nature is  becoming recognised as a priority within the UK and it has been a prime objective of the Trust for over 20 years.  “We want to encourage young people to be the future guardians of our precious local greenspace,” he explained.

This is a new initiative for the Trust’s outdoor education service which already runs lessons and events for 5,000 young people every year and the small team is already working at capacity in other areas of the Estate.

“This was a six day trial to set an example for local schools to run their own outdoor education days at the Cressbeds and other Trust waterways in the valley. The volunteers from the Waterways Experience were wonderful with the children and even let them help with locks and steering the boat,” said David.

As part of the organisation of the initiative, the two Chaulden schools ensured that sufficient teachers and helpers were prepared on health and safety in advance and had assistance from two Box Moor Trust volunteers who identified wildlife species that were spotted or caught. Children held frogs and toads, identified birds and had their first contact with a range of flora and fauna. The event was a huge success with many pupils reporting back on how much it inspired them. One pupil enthused, “It was the best day of my life!”

Gadespring is a  special wildlife site and requires careful protection, but similar visits can be arranged for other school groups as long as the area is respected. This is available for all schools in Hemel Hempstead and Bovingdon, please contact the Box Moor Trust on 01442 253300 to enquire about half day or full day school visits.