In a previous life I was a magazine publisher with The Skinny. The magazine began in my student flat when I was 23, and we really just learned on the job how to publish it. Then the popularity grew and grew.
But working on a magazine for years, I really saw the effects of sitting in front of a computer screen on the people around me – on their physical health and on their mental health. It took a long time for me to realise that computer culture can be really difficult for humans to live with.
Looking back, I think my childhood had made a really big impression on me. I had the kind of upbringing that exposed me to being outside on a regular basis. We never had a big garden at home, but we always had one. When I was growing up I lived in a few different countries. One of those was Norway, where the lifestyle was very much skiing – taking the bus up to the mountains with your friends and just strapping on your skis.
So when I was going through a difficult patch in my personal life I started to rethink my options. I was still working with the magazine part-time at this point after the birth of my daughter, but I could see that my values had shifted in the kind of work that I wanted to be supporting. Employing people to sit in front of a computer screen wasn’t what I wanted to do any longer.
The Forest School Certificate is a very in-depth learning process, so it was a big decision, but I started it in 2016 and I’m now a trainer as well as a leader. A typical day is working either with a school group or a holiday group. We take a walk into the woods together, taking all our shelters, our ropes for swings, hammocks, kettles and packed lunches.
Then we find a camp area and set up. We usually do that together, so the children and adults design the space – where we’re going to put the hammocks and where we’re going to play. We have a chat about boundaries in the woods too. So we sit in a circle talking and sharing the health and safety info, and also the activities stuff.