On the morning of our second visit to CFS, the group were incredibly excited to see that we had perfect weather for it, even if it was a little cold.
The sky was clear, the sun was shining and the light was again bouncing off the autumn colours creating a wonderful glow. Despite their enthusiasm, which seemed palpable at times, the group managed to listen to staff requests to get the jobs done before we left in an organised and timely fashion.
The journey to the woods was an enjoyable experience for all as the boys just talked amongst themselves and listened to the anecdotes told about prior visits, which only built upon there excitement at once again having the opportunity to be part of such a fantastic project. Jonno and his team were there to greet us on our arrival, embracing and harnessing that enthusiasm and positive energy into the tasks we faced during the day.
The experience started with collecting firewood, kindling and tinder to start our fires, which the group engaged with as they remembered the places to collect the punk wood and other materials for the fire. It was brilliant to see the group working together and thinking about the task in hand, remembering what they had learnt on the previous visit about looking for air-dried twigs, twigs of different thickness and the all important punk wood. Then it was back to the main camp to light a main fire and individual ones under the parachute.
Once this task was completed, Jonno informed the boys that we were going to coppice some hazel to make into a bow to fire some arrows at the end of the day. Understandably, the boys were excited about this, but to their credit they controlled their enthusiasm and listened to the safety brief to use the tools safely and effectively. Having coppiced the wood they dragged it back to the fire area where they cut the branches into suitable lengths to make a bow. They were puzzled with the end result, as it was just a straight length of wood, which did not look like a bow at all. Jonno then demonstrated the next task, which was to bend the wood around a tree trunk to create the bow shape, the staff then helped them to string it and encouraged them to individualise it with grips, markings and carvings.
Having completed this task successfully, the group then spent some time toasting their sandwiches and eating their lunch, before having an opportunity to cook marshmallows over the fire. The day finished with a chance to fire the bows at the front of the copse. To their credit this was done successfully and safely as the group all listened to the safety brief and were not put off by the odd failure. It was then time for the journey home, during which they all reflected on the fantastic adventure they had enjoyed on the visit. This was made all the more meaningful by the fact that some of the boys openly said it was much more fun than playing on a games console.