Young volunteers Love Outdoor Play
Guest post by Pip Levett.
Play Gloucestershire are bringing the Love Outdoor Play campaign to Gloucestershire this summer. With funding through the Free Time Consortium’s Get Involved in Play programme, we aim to get more children in Gloucestershire playing outdoors more often.
At the heart of our campaign and our charity’s work, is our growing band of Young Volunteers who never cease to amaze us with their kindness, compassion and appetite for outdoor fun! Young people are so willing to give up their free time to help others through community play activities, and we have long believed that their actions are under valued and not often recognised.
Our summer Love Outdoor Play campaign has provided a whole new level of volunteering for a core group of these Young Volunteers, and as a consequence many new volunteers as well. With funding from the Get Involved in Play programme enabling us to provide volunteer training, 25 roadshows and an end of summer showcase event, we are really going for it in Gloucestershire. We are making sure that the media knows what we’re up to as well in order to spread the campaign message far and wide, social media is a great cost-effective way of doing this.
The campaign has got off to a flying start with our volunteer training weekend. Fifteen young people committed themselves to a gruelling weekend of formal training, outdoor play and a large dose of sociable teenage fun. The young people have piloted the first ever Young Volunteers in Play training programme led by Playwork Partnerships at the University of Gloucestershire. A full days training included modules on teamwork, the playwork principles and risk benefit analysis as well as parachute games and scavenger hunts. Campfire cooking skills were fine tuned at lunchtime with a popular cook out session at the Oxstalls Campus. The training culminated in a written exam, which all students passed with flying colours!
Formal work completed and with excitement building up, the minibus arrived to deliver us to the pretty village of Saul, where our sleepover commenced. Those lovely people from The Canvas Cottage Company had prepared our camp with bell tents equipped with air beds, rugs, tables, solar lights and bunting and it was our first taste of glamping. With the sun setting and our celebration fire pit blazing, the festival vibe was soon in full flow. The young people organised a treasure hunt in the dark for themselves, and as the evening got colder they huddled around the fire singing campfire songs with our talented musical Rangers Lana and Gary. By midnight, our Play Ranger song was recorded and boy were we chuffed with it! Check it out on the link below:
Following full English breakfasts and full bellies, team leaders Ben and Katie arrived to brief the young people on our forthcoming Love Outdoor Play campaign. It felt like Christmas as the youngsters pledged to become our key campaign volunteers, opening a goody bag full of information, wristband and coveted hoody. Workshops designed to enable young people to deliver some key messages over the summer followed. Enthused by the whole experience and some promotional photos, a final feast of campfire chilli wraps was devoured before fond farewells and some much needed sleep before school the next day.
A month, four roadshows and two radio interviews later, the Young Volunteers proudly arrive at play sessions in campaign hoodies ready to sign up anyone who shows an interest to the campaign. Children and adults can join the campaign by filling out Love Outdoor Play hearts and drawing a picture of their favourite play activity. This is rewarded with a campaign wristband. For those wishing to become an active campaign supporter, they can earn a t-shirt by pledging themselves and two other people to play outdoors more often.
Our Young Campaigners are going to be busy. They’ve already been interviewed on local radio, in the paper and on our new audioboo page.
Pip Levett is the Director of Play at Play Gloucestershire.