Summer squirrel days

Original Author: Lorna Hutchison

Most people seem to think that taking school children into the woods getting them to cook lunch on an open campfire, then giving them axes and knives is crazy. But not at Green Aspirations.


Over the last few weeks of the summer holidays I joined the team at Green Aspirations and school pupils from all over West Dunbartonshire 5 times. Green Aspirations is a place where city kids of all ages can get out of the city and into the forest to play and re-connect with nature. The school pupils I worked with there were all spending the summer working towards their John Muir Awards, learning about the outdoors and bush craft skills at Green Aspirations (hence the campfire, axes and knives), which is where I came in.

I taught them about squirrel ecology, explained why the Grey Squirrel is a threat, destroyed squirrel myths (nope, they don’t hibernate!), asked them to search for signs of squirrel activity (cone debris, scratch marks etc.), to build dreys (squirrel nests), and encouraged them to look for squirrels and report their sightings in their day-to-day lives to help our project. Although we didn’t see a squirrel while at Green Aspirations, we did see plenty of evidence so maybe, just maybe there are squirrels still there and we didn’t scare them off with all the noise!

They (the school pupils) seemed to really enjoy learning about squirrels, quoting me back to me and asking more questions when they were next at Green Aspirations. In return I tested them to see what they remembered from the activities and I was very impressed – those kids were like sponges! So hopefully that means we have a few more squirrel-recorders out there!

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