Next week I'm running a project at Cogges near Witney (Oxfordshire) with young people aged 14 to 18 and I thought I might try to post something to a discussion each evening as we progress.  We're going to be building an outdoor wattle & daub thatched shelter and cooking each day in the earth ovens.  Some of the youngsters are coming from a youth offending background and others are just local kids - at the moment we don't have enough participants.  Karen Wydler and I are running the activities (her woodland project Touchwood Trees is amazing) so we'll let you know how it goes as it unfolds but the main areas of interest for us are introducing the playstation generation to concepts like foraging, self sufficiency (on a very simple level of using what one can find), safe use of tools and fire, simple cooking and a bit of history around Saxon life.  All of it proper Fireside Learning! Will post more next week and hope that people are interested in joining in the discussion....(ps we hope we might be little bit 'world changing' - hence the choice of category)

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Eager to hear how things are going, Janine!  Glad to have you on Fireside.  Keep us updated. Can't wait to see pictures, too!
Well end of day 3 and progress is slow but sure on the structure we are building.  We're making an outdoor kitchen using hazel cut from the walled garden, lashing it together with string to make a frame which will be 'wattled' (woven with green hazel), daubed and thatched.  The young guys we're working with have been amazing - some come via referrals through youth workers and others just signed up from the publicity. We have 7 in total aged 14 - 19, including one American visitor.  We've all learned from my colleague Karen how to make knots, lash poles together, and build a structure for the kitchen.  I've been leading on cooking over the fire or in the earth ovens, and the most exciting development was finding that everyone was willing to try homemade tomato soup (which hopefully didn't sound unusual to them!) and cheese griddle scones.  Yesterday everyone made their own pizza and baked it in the earth oven, and for kids who live on the dreaded McDonald's it was a real breakthrough - only one had ever eaten a home made pizza!  Small progress with some things - one boy has drunk three bottles of high energy, caffeinated drink a day (aged 14) for years and didn't notice any impact on his sleep....he turned up today and made a point of drinking 2 litres of mineral water.  We've really noticed people have started taking on individual roles too.  At the start of the week they would all do the same thing at the same time, but now they are spreading out on the site more.  One participant has taken to making stakes with a billhook and is now lead 'stake maker' - the others just ask for the length they need and he makes it - he's also developed the idea into making javelins and today made an instruction video on how to make your own javelin.  Someone else is very precise and is determined that everything he does has to look good at the end.  Our most disaffected participant has started really opening up, and whilst he still finds being in a team a bit challenging, he is staying and given the choices young people have that seems like a real win. So tomorrow rain, rain, rain forecast - thank goodness we built a quick shelter yesterday when it rained - and that will be somewhere for us to stay dry tomorrow.


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