Here, Charlie, one of our attendees, has written a short piece about his experience on a Forest Refresh day. We are are so thrilled and proud that he had such a great time and took away so much from his day with us.
Forest Refresh — 24th July 2020
My Forest Refresh day started with meeting Rebecca in the car park and finding out this was not the final destination. After 10 minutes driving through the countryside, we arrived at a locked gate which was our entrance to the Forest. On the other side of the gate the day really began and as we drove deeper into the forest, I was more and more intrigued by what might be in store.
We arrived at base camp at around 10am and I found myself in what I can only describe as every kids’ (and plenty of adults’) dream forest playground. There was a circle of log seats around a fire under the large canopy, handmade dens and forts, rope swings and a couple of forest huts to complete the feeling of being in the middle of nature. I didn’t know what to expect but the setting had a really unique feel to it.
After meeting everyone with introductions over tea/coffee and some camp rules (including Forest toilet etiquette!) we got down to business, with the first of the day’s opportunities to practise some mindfulness. This is something I’ve never really embraced previously but I arrived with an open mind, hoping to learn something new. Being surrounded by the stunning woodland and guided by the fantastic Rebecca and Lisa it was easy to find the right mindset. After some time to declutter the mind and just listen to the forest, we got back around the campfire to share our intentions for the day with Lisa and Rebecca creating a safe space to share openly. Having been made redundant recently, I was hoping to be able to reset and let go of the last few months’ events and refresh ahead of moving on from what has been a difficult time.
Having discussed each other’s intentions for the day, and gaining valuable input and insight from the discussion, we explored some more of this incredible setting, rating the shelters that have been made previously and learning plenty about the forests’ trees and ecosystem from the passionate and inspirational Lisa.
Following that, lunch was served! A delicious bacon sandwich or two later and it was time to spend some more time being at one with the forest in the hammocks. Having not been in a hammock for nearly 10 years, I amazed myself by managing to get in without an embarrassing fall and really enjoyed the time to contemplate, let my mind wander and watch as the resident squirrel panicked slightly at our presence. Again, following this time, it was easy to share thoughts and reflections, and we had an insightful discussion as a group around what we can control and influence and what we can’t, with Rebecca expertly coaching at the right moments and facilitating important takeaways for all. This was a definite takeaway for me and I have since tried to incorporate ‘hammock moments’ in my day to day life.
After lazing about in the hammocks, it was time to do something a bit more energetic so we moved to the archery range. Lisa, a qualified archery instructor, showed us the ropes and it was a highly enjoyable session. I learned that evidently, I am a left-handed archer, hitting the bullseye once I had made the switch from a right to a left-handed stance so Lisa must be a good teacher (it’s apparently all to do with being “eye-dominant” as opposed to “hand dominant”). It also turns out learning archery is a wonderful metaphor for business, and lead by Rebecca, we were able to reflect on our resilience to missing the target as well as our ability to learn from experiences to get closer and more consistent over time.
The final part of the day, took us to a small meadow in the middle of the forest for one last mindfulness session. Rebecca lead us excellently in some guided meditation and I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time I have felt so relaxed or switched off from everyday life. To end the day, we reflected as a group on what our intentions had been and what we were taking away from the day and again Rebecca and Lisa create a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings completely openly.
To summarise, it was an incredibly powerful day that has opened my eyes to a range of techniques to cope better with the stresses and strains of work and everyday life. Rebecca and Lisa are both inspirational people. Lisa’s passion for the forest, sustainable living and her work shone through and I learnt a lot from her throughout the day. Rebecca’s coaching style is perfectly suited to the stunning location and I have come away feeling mentally refreshed, armed with renewed perspective in my own life, as well as techniques I will use to step back and just be when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.