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Day 1 Wild.    #walkintherain

craigarmiger - OutdoorCoaching

As I drove along with the windscreen wipers heavily in motion a strange ritual was being conducted on the pavement by two non- jacket wearing teenagers. A partially blonde teenager was being helped by her boyfriend to stay out of the torrential Welsh sunshine. In order to prevent the vital locks from becoming drenched and therefore unveiling her camouflage he had placed both his hands above her head. This unconventional butterfly shaped fascinator was certainly keeping me smiling as I headed to my destination. As I passed the end of school day gates, the road became clogged with traffic and waiting parents. Surely not all these children lived that far from school? They lived on a large estate only minutes from home why was there a need to protect their precious cargo from getting wet? We live in a Wales we should be used to the dampness of the environment…

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Tipi Ceremony – Values

In the beginning, the idea of the Tipi was the USP (unique selling point) of my new business Outdoor Coaching UK. It is has now developed into a very versatile piece of equipment which enables the introduction of a variety of Outdoor Learning and life skills.

The first outing was to Maesglas Primary School in Newport to use Outdoor Learning as a vehicle to help engage pupils that had poor attendance (70%average) back into school. It was also to look at the values of who and where they were in relation with family and school. 

I had been speaking via Facebook to a friend (funny how this new world of social media creates friends who you have never met,  but have a relationship with)  who teaches in Northern Canada and has become immersed through marriage and occupation as a headteacher into the Cree First Nation people. Bruce was able to point me in the right direction to obtain more information regarding the Cree Tipi ceremony.
  The more I read about the philosophy and the ceremony the more I became immersed in it too.  These values and the way in which the Tipi was constructed resonated personally and formed the basis for the project with Maesglas.

Values are so important, as I had learnt as part of completing an International Diploma in NLP which I had undertaken a few years earlier. They under pin your very being and if upheld, then, like the Tipi create a framework and enable you to tie in all the other parts of your life on. 

The project was structured and aimed to try and have the biggest footfall possible. This meant that 3  two hour sessions per day were used so that year 4, 5 & 6 classes could be targeted during the day. Maesglas Primary is an inner city school with 33 different languages and an old dated building to accommodate this world wide population. However, the school has a fantastic feeling as soon as you go through the door, created by the welcoming staff. The head and deputy are well aware of the benefits of Outdoor Learning, hence the birth of the project. The school year 5 also attend an outdoor residential each year, but is only if they can afford to do it and unfortunately numbers are falling each year.The senior management grasped the opportunity for this unique learning to come to the school and then working together we created a programme outline and a plan was hatched for the start of the winter term. 

The first session involved an activity to understand the pole values and how they fitted into the Cree society, this was also done in the practical way of erecting the Tipi. This turned out to be a fantastic STEM activity.

The pupils were interested in how it all fitted together and there was an exploration and interpretation of what today’s values meant to them personally and in relation to their family and school life.

The building of the tipi is used as a great visual to see and feel how values are tied into their life. It required a great deal of teamwork and fun building the frame moving 25 foot poles into place and wrapping the canvas around the Tipi. 

Photographs placed on Facebook always resulted in feedback from Canada, Bruce giving his usual constructive criticism, which ‘was’ really helpful. 

  The second week as the children arrived at school the Tipi was already standing in the school grounds which was’cool’and it was cool at 7 am in the winter darkness, but it also created an amazing atmosphere. 

This second session each pupil had invited someone from home to visit and join their experience. The session began with them explaining to their adults using a metre tall model of the Tipi of how they had proudly built the structure and then what the pole values were. In a quick activity they shared with their elders their values and discussed the differences, as they had to choose one and place it on a ribbon for the top of each pole. 

Two things that caused much discussion was that in any First Nation language there was no word for ‘teenager’, they went from Youth to Adulthood. Also there was no need to have a pole value of ‘trust’ because if all the other values were in place and supporting each other – it worked! Today’s society worked a lot around trust and mentions it all the time, the adults and the pupils worked together on a few trust activities and bonding games.

At the end of the activity each adult was given a small piece of ribbon to tie to something significant like a key ring or pen. This was intended to anchor them back to the session and the values they had experienced. The challenge was to keep a value which was most important to them highlighted for 30 days.

It was fantastic to feel the learning and the engagement with their adults in the activities around the Tipi. ” That’s the fist time I’ve trusted you”   ” This so simple an idea and no effort needed to play, only ten minutes of time”. Some of the more meaningful comments heard.

The final session in the third week each participant invited another special person from within the school. Some invited siblings, relatives, classmates and best friends.

More values work, team activities and this week a fire pit and marshmallows as a treat. The using of a flint and steel was greeted with much joy when igniting cotton wool. 

A follow up programme over the next 3 weeks repeated the activities and learning, although differentiated, with year 3 who also had poor attendance and this was also a huge success.

The end of the project will come in the New Year with some follow up work sent into the classes, from which some data will be obtained to use to evaluate and substantiate the PDG money to prove that it has been well spent. Although, per head it has only come to £2 more than the price of  a Big Mac meal and the programme has engaged over 300 pupils and over 60 adults from home. 

It’s a shame that you can’t submit smiling faces and the sound of joyful engagement to tick that educational box. All we can do is hope that the creativity and effort put in by all the school staff to engage these  groups using the Tipi project will pay dividends in the long term.  

Your contribution to The Natural Revolution

Walking along the beach for the first time for far too long a period between salt intakes had a different feel. Usually there are children in tow and even adults to consider, but this time I was surrounded by excited children, but they were not my responsibility. 

White sands or Porth Mawr in Pembrokeshire has always had a special place in my heart and the perfect place to re-invigorate and inject salt back into the system. However as I strolled across the sand and between the rocks and seaweed my Outdoor eyes and child-like character imerged and thoughts came to “Wow look at that rock pool!”.  


Reverting back to childhood I became excited about the contents of what might lurk beneath the surface and hidden under the blanket of weed. Looking around the beach there were dads doing the same, digging frantically to create a water system that would flow as the tide came in and fill the moat. Basic physics and understanding of natural environment. Balancing and moving smoothly over the barnacle mats stretched out on the rocks, beckoning to the little timid slow moving person behind. In control of the kite zooming back and fro up and down spinning and turning whilst explaining the fundamentals of wind direction and aerodynamics. Mum telling the story of how the jelly like blob turns into a dancing waving sea anemone when covered in water. 

As I watched these enthused adults introduce this new world to their children, it dawned on me how important the need for “The Nature Revolution” is to make our future generations appreciate the environment around them. Not only to find out that it has huge potential as a free wild playground but that the hidden benefits of emerseing themselves in this product would benefit their health, education and well-being. 

As I walked through the rock gardens I heard a small boy ask his dad “which one is it that pops?” A small but fundamental fact about bladder-wrack (Fucus vesiculous – the original source of Iodine) that he would not have known if he’d not experienced the audible sounds of the seashore. As I scrambled over the exposed rocks I met a sister and brother about to enter into  a small cave. Shafts of sunlight danced across the ceiling like natural glitter, inspiring feelings of pirates and dragons. After a few metres they emerged back into the sunlight smiling and accomplished after their adventure.


It made me realise that “Yes”, we do need to show our next generation where they can taste, smell and hear the exciting new world which is not “screen-time”, and that innate gene which drives our Adventure Literacy is not yet bred out, it’s just dormant. As adults we need to facilitate and open the door to explore nature and then step back once the fuse has been lit and watch the explosion into “green-time” begin to work its magic.

It’s Autumn I’m Leafing!


I have passed this place every morning on the school run for the last week and every time another idea came into my head. Luckily it was on the return trip and only once did I drive past the stop with my passenger shouting “Dad!” very loudly to bring me back to present time!

It finally got the better of me and I loaded the I-pad into the car and pulled in when the bus had gone……….. it inspired the following.

Leaf it Out! 

1.  Find a spot and mark it so that your partner or group member can find it easily. You could scrape a spot moving the leaves away or mark it with a stick – or both! Make sure the ‘finder(s)’ is not looking!

Starting Point

2.  Take two or three photo’s of the leaf-carpet in front of you. Variations of differentiation could be, getting the photographer to use 360 degrees from the spot they are standing at and to give the finder an angle to use to find the spot – ‘It’s between 90 – 180 degrees’. For early years or KS1 or special needs you could arrange the leaves into easily recognisable patterns or shapes for them to find.


IMG_0169IMG_0172_2Rearranged patterns


3.  This could be done using the canopy as a spot to find without marking it first. ‘find the spot where this photo was taken from?’ or the trunk of a tree.

The photo’s could be developed into a photo – trail, connecting all the pictures together.

Moss and lichen bring in geography and biology, prevailing wind directions and clean air, compass directions.

Canopy IMG_0174_2IMG_0175_2 Moss and Lichen

Take a selfie of yourself to add a bit of humour to the session, see if they can find the same spot? It might take a while and lots of selfies to find. I must admit even if it was correct the first time I would say ‘No’ just keep the activity going.  Making sure that the ground is not too wet if the appropriate clothing is not being worn! (it was at this point that a car stopped and asked if I was Ok! – I explained that I was an outdoor teacher- and before I could add the explanation they drove off ! for some reason that seemed to satisfy him? )


4.  Use an I-Pad and with the picture you have taken place the I-Pad down on the ground and use it to find the spot it was taken from – how do we get to reduce the size of the photograph to the same as the actual leaf litter?

When back in the classroom the photographs can be used to inspire creative writing or artwork. Try using the app ‘Phoster” and make a poster for the class. Another using voice recording and other medias is ‘Explain Everything” a great way of understanding when you have to explain to somebody else. You can play it back. It gives it real context.  If choosing a sycamore leaf carpet then seed dispersal is instantly recognisable with its ‘helicopters’ as a method.

IMG_1782 IMG_2648 Phoster app.

IMG_2649  CollageGuru app.

CollageGuru app. means you can make multiple pictures of different shapes of the leaf pictures you have taken.

5.  Using the leaves around explore the shapes, colours and structures. Using a pre-prepared cardboard handmade protractor measure the angles of the stems of the leaves, root structures, branches of the veins in the leaves – compare with any manmade items around. Record and discuss in groups. It’s amazing what will come out when comparing each leaf – length, width, angles. What criteria do we use? Use the evidence back for the content of Maths lessons – maths for a purpose.


6.  Leafman Game       Sit two people back to back. One person gets to use leaves and ground materials to create a ‘leaf man‘. Then using oracy skills describe their picture to their partner to see if they can create a copy of the ‘leaf man’ in front of them. Once they have finished, compare. Discuss or record how the communication could have improved, any problems, any ‘top tips’.  Take photos to compare and use the recording of the communication along with the photo as evidence.

With imagination, creativity and any child enthused by being in the outdoors will take this session further then you can think of.

Just don’t be frightened of doing it – go and kick some leaves around. You never know it might be you that’ s  enjoying it more than the ‘Little people’!


You can’t buy a stick in a toy store.

‘You can’t buy a stick at a toy store’
It was a gun, a walking stick, a bow that shot many different shaped arrows that over time got straighter and developed small flights and later became a light-sabre. It was always a stick to start with but soon became anything you wanted it to be. A magic stick. A stick that gave you freedom to wander the universe and beyond. It gave you the authority to roam, to live another life, create another persona giving greater self confidence with a wand in hand.
It expanded your creativity in language, fluent in 6 different galactic tongues, confident in musketeer French, Apache, a touch of German statements and a good healthy working knowledge of Second World War English.
Problem solving was easier with a stick to point, wave and when drawing diagrams had the ability to to enable others to see them in 3D.
The forked stick was not only a medieval catapult but sub machine-pistol too, versatility was it’s middle name!
Divining for water in deserts and wastelands of the regions of a geographic selection from the imagination of a fluid mind.
The size of your stick was an important selection criteria to the type if day you were going to have. Small twigs could give birth to a fire. It excited the individual or group you were with, at first, then as the larger sticks were gathered and added, inhaling the calming smoke gave rise to reflections of stick games from past expeditions.
So a simple stick was far from simple. It could be a stick if that’s what you saw…….. But look again with your ‘outdoor eyes’ it will be what you want it to be within your imagination.20140707-141223-51143642.jpg