THE FOREST LEAGUE
The Salisbury Schools Forest League is a success story that arose from Sarum’s longstanding Primary Schools outreach programme established by Pam Swienton and Liz Yeadon. Basic skills were taught in schools’ grounds using exercises such as Naughty Numbers, cones and simple relays. Subsequently schools were taken into local woods to learn to read O-maps, map orientation and basic navigation. From this arose the idea of a series of simple competitive events for teams from Salisbury and district schools.
Teams run in pairs, for safety reasons, and usually complete two courses roughly of white and yellow standard. Using an analysis of the overall times (using a system as steeped in mystery as FIFA World Cup selections) the teams are ranked in order. The best four teams then go on to compete in the Wiltshire games being held this year at Marlborough College.
All this wouldn’t happen without a small team of dedicated club volunteers who turn out to help run the events planned and organised by Liz and Pam. All in all it is a very satisfying day out.
It’s a real pleasure to see children having the confidence to run in the forest; most enjoy it, especially when there is mud to be had. These days it is rare for children to get lost, they know how to orientate a map and keep it that way, and they have learned how to relocate. Reasons for becoming misplaced usually come down to one, or both, of two reasons; conversation and running too fast.
At the end of the day the children swarm off back to school or home usually leaving the helpers with big smiles and thanks, very rewarding.