Stories from my personal journey learning about and delivering Nature-rooted programs across three different countries

Lessons from a 9 year old...

Caylin (Forest Schooled)
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If you're looking for a blog post full of deep, meaningful and reflective insight, this is not it... But if you want to be entertained and hopefully even laugh out loud, please read on...

Today I went to Forest School. But I also went on a training course at the same time. How did I do these two things at once, you might ask? Well, the course instructor was a 9 year old named Charlie. The training topic? The art of Ninja...

Here are the lessons Charlie taught me about how to be a Ninja. With hand over heart, I swear the following are all in his words, not mine.
“Ok, if you want to be a Ninja, this is what you need to know:

Step 1:
The art of disguise. You must be able to alter your appearance so that you cannot be recognised.

Step 2:
Know your surroundings. You must be familiar and know the paths and routes you can take. There is no time for getting lost.

Step 3:
Be speedy and agile. You need to be able to move quickly and quietly.

Step 4:
Know your target. Understand what they're like and know their routine.

Step 5:
Build strength and stamina. You must be able to physically endure.

Step 6:
Know your own strengths and use them to your advantage. Know what you're good at.

Step 7:
Use meditation to control your emotions. When you are angry, you can't think straight, so you must meditate to calm down.”

Charlie and I practiced being Ninjas through the woods for a while and Charlie continued to offer me pieces of advice throughout, including:

“Ninja's have to be stealthy. If you get stuck on a bramble or something, you can say 'Ow' because it makes it feel better, but say it quietly.”
And, when I stopped to take a break for hot chocolate and asked Charlie if he'd like to do the same, he advised, “Ninja's don't take breaks.”

“Oops,” I thought as I sipped my hot chocolate, “my bad...”

Later on, I suppose I had proved my Ninja skills to Charlie well enough that he decided to let me in on the ultimate Ninja secret. This is what he told me:

He said, “Now it's time for you to understand Chi.” He leaned in close and whispered in my ear, “Chi is the excellence of self. Know who you are. Know what makes you, you. You can find your Chi through meditation.”

Charlie then proceeded to teach me how to meditate. It required standing in a secluded and quiet spot and involved a series of hand movements, deliberate breathing, and deep reflective thought. You place your palms together over your lips, then fold your hands together over your heart, put one arm out in front of you, take a deep breath and then concentrate on your 'Chi' (or what makes you, you).

It soon become apparent where Charlie had learned all of this when he stated, “If there's one thing Kung Fu Panda has taught me, it's how to find my Chi.”

Overall, I learned that being a Ninja is seriously hard work. But don't worry, there's a sensitive side to Ninjas too. Towards the end of the session Charlie approached my colleague, Rosie, and said, “Hugs?” She said, “Of course” and he wrapped his arms around her. He then said, “Ninjas need hugs sometimes too...”

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