Dangerous Dads Torbay launch event


                      It’s not everyday you get to be involved in the birth of something, but we had the pleasure to support the launch event of  “Dangerous Dads Torbay” community group on Saturday 18th April between 1 and 4 pm at Primley Park in Torbay. This new community group is also being supported by Action for Children Torbay with its aim to provide free monthly activity events for Dads and male carers with at least one child under five.

                       We were joined by 18 children and 8 dads on a beautiful sunny spring afternoon, with the smell of wild garlic blowing on the breeze as we explored and play in Primley Park nature reserve in Torbay. There were requests for the old favorites like hide and seek, which we did. It was brilliant watching the dads and their children playing and interacting together, either as they hide amongst the undergrowth or supporting them in counting.


            Then we made our way to base camp for den and fire making activities, with all the dads and their children busy playing, socialising and discovering the wonders this nature reserve has to offer. Some enjoyed the delights at lighting their first fire with a flint and steel, which is not as easy as it looks,


        Whilst other undertook the challenge of building dens using natural materials and tarps, creating their own woodland palaces:


          After all this fun and physical activity, they all were keen not only to toast some marshmallows, but to try some campfire popcorn, as you can see there was more then enough to go around, before heading home very muddy and tired.


         For more information on Dangerous Dads Torbay, or it’s next event please check us out and like their Facebook page Dangerous Dads Torbay,  or email Dan on danbest@sylvanadventures.org

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Spring cleaning the website!

Spring is here so it’s time to spring clean the website, if you notice any errors give us a few days. If they are still there in a week let us know!

We have some new adventures and activities blooming watch this space!



Forest School SW Gathering


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CentrePeace Community Event 6th August


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Exhale Festival 22 – 25th August.

Details of Exhale Festival activities

Details of Exhale Festival activities

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Summer Here.

Well the summer holidays is here and what lovely weather we have had so far.

Chilling in the sunshine

Chilling in the sunshine

So with schools out for the holidays, our activities have  also changed from Forest School sessions to outdoor play sessions and community workshops. It started with a beautiful sunny day for Preston Picnic, where we were helped at the event with young people from our Nature Explorer Project. The activities on offer included clay creatures, tree medals and whittling, we were busy all day long with excited children and young people.

For the rest of the holidays we are busy supporting outdoor  play sessions for a variety of organisations including:

Outdoor play sessions at  an adventure playground in Torquay for Play Torbay.

Birthday parties and woodland holiday club for A Touch of Wild.

Last couple of Nature Explorer Sessions in Torbay, a project funded by New Wave Torbay.

A Wandering Whittling craft workshop for Centre Peace in Paignton.


Sylvan Bear getting our workshop ready.

Sylvan Bear getting our workshop ready.

And lastly on bank holiday weekend in  August, we are organising and delivering the outdoor play session with Outdoor People at Exhale festival. More details to follow.





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Nature Explorer project

Where can a year take you in the playwork field?

Well for me it’s been a full circle, as this time last year I was here in the same little eco-cabin on Little Arthur Farm on St Martin’s drafting a nature play based John Muir Award and I am here again working on another nature play based John Muir Award. I am feeling like a writer that retreats to a writing den, were they are inspired by the peace, tranquility and natural beauty of the Scilly Isles.
Last year I was delivering a cross generational environmental play based Discovery level John Muir award for Play England’s Exploring Nature Play Southwest project, where families were engaged in discovering and exploring local wild places through nature play activities and end up with 14 participants gaining a discovery level John Muir Award.
Two of the young people were so inspired and infused by their time with Sylvan Adventures on this project that they have asked to do their Explorer level John Muir awards with us and especially do an overnight wild camp, which of course I was over the moon to hear. However that left us with the problem of how we could fund such a project?
Then a few months later along came the New Wave funding opportunity for young people to organise and deliver projects which were creative and cultural based in Torbay, that they wanted to see happened. Jacob and Chelsea with the support of their parents were successful in securing a grant.
So now I am here and really excited to be am to facilitate a two tier John Muir Award based Nature awareness project, which they have called “Nature Explorers”. This is going to involve Jacob and Chelsea and few other returning discovery level John Muir award holders working towards their Explorer levels whilst they design and co deliver the activities to another group of young people, wh are working towards their Discovery level John Muir award.
For more details please contact Dan Best at danbest@sylvanadventures .org or check out our Facebook page or website.

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Lets Talk about Play

Well you know the old saying, “when one door closes another opens”. That is whats happening to me this March with my play opportunities.

Last September I was very lucky to be successful in gaining a place on a playwork study tour to Copenhagen, Denmark, investigating adventure playground, afterschool clubs and forest school settings with 7 other playwork professionals from around the UK. It was a very busy, but an exciting week with over 25 play settings visit and 350 photographs taken, were I had specific duties of using social media to record our playwork journey. Here is the web link for the mobility trip journal, I took of our amazing time in Copenhagen:


One of the conditions of attending the study tour, was too attend the 12th National Play conference in Eastbourne, which of course I was happy to attend. But I didnt have any real duties to perform, because of doing the social media stuff on the tour or so I thought. Well I really enjoyed the study tour and still reflecting on what I saw and heard there, but didn’t expect anything else to come of it so you could say the door closed.

Well another door opened in February, when Dr Mel McCree (whom I met on the Danish study tour), had to cancel giving her presentation due to ill health. However she suggested I deliver the work on “Could play workers benefit from Forest School training?”, which of course I was delighted to deliver, so another door opened.



Whilst at the play conference on the 4 and 5th March, another workshop was cancelled. This time whittling, one of my favourite past times so I offered to deliver for it. Such an amazing opportunity with about 30 adults joining me and a friend (thanks Jem Collins for your help) for a one hour whittling session. Now that door has closed, two more have opened both involving me giving presentation on play and adventure playgrounds, one is happen on 28th March as part of the Somerset Play Forum . The other presentation is happening on 2nd April in Totnes, with the aim of raising the awareness of the benefits adventure playgrounds to the community.

totnes talk

Come and join me and some of my fellow playwork travellers, as we speak about our playwork discoveries from the study tours, on 2nd April.


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Spring Forest School SW Gathering

night sky        Well it has not been our normal winter, warmer but wetter and windier.

However spring is in the air with sighting of Snowdrops and other flowers have been seen and enjoyed. I am also excited about it being spring, because it is nearly time for the Spring Forest School SW Gathering (May 10-11th) and this time is being held in Torbay.

I know this, because Sylvan Adventures has the pleasure of organising and hosting this gathering, which is a networking and skill sharing meeting of Forest School practitioners and like mind people. The last gathering was held at Hallr Woods in Somerset and was enjoyed by 30 or so Forest School practitioners, with loads of skill shared. we also agreed to be an affiliated regional group of the Forest School Association.

This gathering is happening over the weekend of 10-11th May, were we will be meeting on the beach Saturday morning to learn about beach school, discover new activities as well as enjoying the sea and sand. Then it will be off to a nearby wood for some wild camping, with meals cooked over a campfire for more and of course more outdoor fun and games. The gathering finishes with a meeting of Forest School SW group.

The whole gathering is not a training event, more an informal social event, were practitioner gather to share skills, meet old friends and make new ones. This is why the fee for the  gathering is £30 for non Forest School Association for the whole weekend and £25 for Forest School Association members.

Please contact us for more details and a booking form.



Playful Memories, a seed is born?

Whilst building the website I found a document that dates from September 2012 during the Play England Exploring Nature Play Project South West. It was written by my colleague, Jane Hembrow, Project Officer for Exploring Nature Play South West for Play England. It may well have been the seed from which Sylvan Adventures developed. It made me smile so I thought I would share it.

Dan Best
Sylvan Adventures


Listening to Chris Evans show this morning I was reminded of something that took place during the summer. Imagine if you will, a circle of people who have been brought together, prior to this week they were mainly strangers and are now sat (having received a “how to, how not to” brief) in a circle enjoying the late summer sun. They have sticks and knives, and the discussion goes like this .. where have you been on holiday? .. natter natter .. Is it true that the water that goes down the plug hole in Australia goes down the opposite way to here? … natter natter …Did you enjoy the theatre the other evening? .. natter natter .then one of the group gets out a ukulele and starts playing, slowly and quietly .. taking requests … the whittling continues, things are starting to take shape ….then a strange but rather magical thing happens .. a rather thoughtful, but shy member of the group “Robin” moves around the back of the circle and stands behind the musician, he is transfixed by the tune that is being played – Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World” – he starts to sing along, beautifully accompanying his new friend … a continued peace envelopes the group … and knowing looks are passed amongst some .. all very lovely you may think!

But what was really special about this is that it was a group of 11 year old boys meeting for the first time this week before they start secondary school as part of Torbay’s Summer school project. They had started the week, lively slightly disruptive, runners in the group had already been identified by the teachers, playworkers had through observation checked out those that would benefit from outdoor play. And here they were a group of such children including a “runner”, (a visit earlier in the week had allowed our “Robin” – from batman and Robin – his choice of name as Robin is always dissapearing!) the opportunity to show us what he liked doing and after a chat had made a really best friend of one of the playworkers) 2 or 3 “disruptives”, a couple so shy that they had not engaged with the sport or art on offer .. but here they were back with the playworkers ( their favourite place), whittling wood, careful thoughtful conversation, and the most beautiful musical offering .. it is indeed a “Wonderful World” and this group had certainly experienced it as part of their “Exploring Nature play” session! (During the session the school lead had popped out to check and make sure everything was OK and was totally amazed by what he found – this group totally absorbed in the wood whittling, high level conversation, afterwards he had told us that he was blown away! and just wished that the school could meet the needs of these youngsters in the same way… but he feared that this wouldn’t be possible …..Our Community Play Development worker is popping back to school soon to see how play can support them to make sure it continues to be a Wonderful world for these young people….

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