Into the wilderness

We’ve been working closely with Korpi Forest School, in South East England, to help raise awareness about the importance of Forest School leaders and their groups being ‘tick aware’ while learning outdoors.

This month we caught up with Jen Pearson-Young, who is Managing Director and Level 3 Forest School Leader at Korpi Forest School, to ask her about her Forest School journey. Here’s what she had to say…

This is a photo of the Managing Director of Korpi Forest Schoolof
Jen is passionate about her explorers being ‘tick aware’

What inspired you to become a Forest School Leader and start your own Forest School?

I became a Forest School leader after many years working as part of SEND (Special Educational Needs & Disabilities) teams in schools where children were struggling to access the curriculum and work in the classroom.

I worked alongside many children and families and they were always less stressed and more focused if we worked in our natural spaces. This made me look at my own practice and I began my Forest School journey. It benefited me as an adult and I could only hope that our children and families would feel the same.

It was a natural progression to start my own Forest School and continue working alongside children and families but in a more natural environment. Korpi Forest School was born!

Where did you train, and what was your favourite part?

I did my Level 3 Forest School training with the amazing team at The Surrey Wildlife Trust. It was like another world opening up for me. Meeting other like-minded people and realising this is where I should be!

The best part of the training was realising that I actually felt connected, in a way that maybe I had forgotten in busy day to day life, I was not stressed at all anymore after a long busy day. I was taking on new learning and I was excited about it! My family got to hear it all every evening.

Last year during the pandemic I focused on completing my Therapeutic Forest Training so that I could further support our young people and their families. Our health and mental wellbeing is more important now than ever.

What was the inspiration for the name, Korpi?

I worked with a graphic artist and social media creative to brand my Forest School. I wanted to ensure we kept a nod to the ethos and start of Forest Schools in Scandinavia.

Korpi means ‘wilderness’ in Finnish. It seemed to encapsulate the whole world of characters that we wanted to share with the children at Forest School. Korpi Forest School and its nature element characters (Earth, Air, Water and Fire) were born from these discussions.

What’s the best thing you’ve witnessed as a Forest School practitioner?

It’s difficult to say what the best thing is as I find something new every week. Generally it is seeing children succeeding and achieving great things in their own way. I do remember one child who had been with us at Korpi for a number of months voicing ‘thank you for giving me my childhood back, I feel calm and free’; she was 9yrs old and a carer for her parents.

This struck a chord for me and if we can give back a little bit of happiness, self-confidence and a sense of health and freedom then I will be a very happy Forest School Leader!

Why do you feel ‘tick awareness’ is important as a Forest School Leader?

Tick awareness is extremely important to me and unfortunately, there’s still not enough awareness in general, as I would like. Lyme Disease has personally affected my family. Two members have had Lyme Disease and that is something I don’t ever want any family to have to deal with. At Korpi Forest School we ensure all our explorers are aware and can share this knowledge with their families.

If we all work together, we can make a difference today and for our children’s future. Let’s share this info far and wide!

Jen, talking about tick awareness

Describe how Forest School makes you feel in 3 words!

Relaxed, happy, hopeful.

What are your top 5 ‘must have’ kit items for Forest School?

I like to make sure all our explorers can access Forest School without fancy equipment, so we encourage using what we have around us in nature and what we have at home for activities. So, our top 5 may be a little different!

  1. First Aid kit, including tick spray.
  2. Appropriate clothing (we do live in the UK so weather can change quickly).
  3. Somewhere to access natural space– whether this is an open woodland or a garden balcony. I am lucky to have beautiful natural spaces near me in Surrey. Within this I would include my camera. Another amazing tool to capture nature, experiences and a great mindfulness accessory.
  4. A stick – it’s never just an ordinary stick, a wand, a magical arrow, a pole for your den, perfect for fire lighting or a tool to roast your marshmallows!
  5. Finally, an open mind, a smile and your imagination! They work wonders!
This is the logo for Korpi Forest School
Korpi Explorers know how to be ‘tick aware’

How can people find out more about Korpi Forest School?

You can follow our Korpi journey via our website www.korpiforestschool.com and on all social media, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also sign up to our monthly Newsletter to keep up to date with what’s going on and receive tips and home activities. Just email me at jen@korpiforestschool.com

If you run a Forest School and would like more information about tick prevention, please get in touch at contact@botanicprotect.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help!