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.

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….

Happy new year and Sylvan Adventures Website live

New Sylvan Adventures Website live

Happy new year everyone! We’ve been stuck indoors beavering away for nearly the last week and the website is just about done! We can’t wait to get Sylvan Bear from Hibernation (Ashburton) and get outdoors. It may not be perfect so if you spot any mistakes or have any comments please let us know.

New Logo

We also have a new logo  (Thanks to Vicky Smith, contact us for her contact details), the lovely otter face has been moved to cover our family adventures so he isn’t far away!

Sylvan Adventures website Logo


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We’ve also created a libary of lovely quotes from John Muir and other adventurers and you will find a few quotes dotted around the site, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did finding them.  Do you have a favourite nature quote? let us know.

Dan Best
Sylvan Adventures

Volunteering opportunities

If you are interested in outdoor education or play you could volunteer with us, learn skills, help the community and possibly gain certificates. Please contact us for more information.

Dan Best
Sylvan Adventures