Blog | Fordell Firs first Conservation Residential was a success

Blog | Fordell Firs first Conservation Residential was a success

20 April 2023

blog by Katie Micklethwaite, Senior Instructor at Scout Adventures Fordell Firs

Earlier this month, 10 young people from across Scotland and England arrived at Fordell Firs to start their Gold Duke of Edinburgh residential focusing on the environment and conservation. After arriving, they took part in some team building activities, including our newly refurbished low ropes course, and some entertaining icebreaker games as well as being introduced to the John Muir Award which they were completing alongside the residential.

As part of the John Muir Award, the group needed to explore, discover, conserve and share information about a new environment. To start achieving this we completed a section of the Fife Coastal Path starting at Kinghorn - Pettycur Bay and finishing at Inverkeithing, totalling just over 18km and experiencing weather from every season! Along the way we explored the changing landscapes and environments whilst discussing local history and folklore. Two of the highlights of the walk were a mysterious washed up animal on the beach, which caused many a debate during the week, and our second lunch stop at the Old Kirk in Dalgety Bay.

The review of the day was “it was better than I expected, it was a walking history lesson which was really cool."- Daniel.

On return to Fordell the group had their first experience of some of the on-site activities and enjoyed flying down the zip line before having some well-earned rest.

Midway through the week, days three and four, were spent working in partnership with the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust. The group took part in two conservation projects across Fife. First, we visited Lower Largo and removed an invasive plant species known as Rosa Rugosa which is destroying the sand dunes. By removing this species, the sand dunes can restore themselves with marrow grass, re-growing and re-stabilizing the dunes. The team fully embraced this challenge and enjoyed using a wide variety of tools particularly ‘the slasher’ (which is like a scythe). The group were able to clear a large section of the dune during the day and were very proud of their achievement. In the evening we were joined by Joanna McFarlane, a local conservationist, environmentalist, business owner and campaigner who shared her journey into this field and some of the fascinating projects she has worked on over the years.

The second project that the group worked on was maintenance on a local footpath known as Ninelums in Aberdour. This path was becoming overgrown with ivy and low hanging branches, the group were taught how to safely cut down tree limbs without causing damage to the overall tree or to themselves. This proved to be a highly rewarding task for individuals and it was fantastic to see them all working so hard as a group. The clearing of the area generated healthy discussions about appropriate conservation work, it was fantastic listening to the debates and to hear the young people use information they had learned from the week to back up their opinions. In the afternoon we visited Weymss Caves and explored the history of the area. Our final evening together was spent at Black Sands Aberdour where we had a beach fire and s'mores, it was the perfect ending to the week despite a torrential down pour soaking us all to the skin - although the group didn’t seem to mind this as some of them even went for a little paddle!

 Daniel J commented:

"It is important to preserve the environment so that kids in the future can enjoy the outdoors. Conservation is also a very rewarding experience"

The final day was spent finishing the John Muir Award by sharing information learnt with the group, these 5-minute individual presentations were highly informative, well researched and delivered brilliantly by the young people. Topics included the River Forth in WW2, Dalgety Bay’s radioactive beach, a team drawing and a moving poem about the mystery seal/ porpoise on the beach. Before heading home, the group had one final activity together completing the 3G swing.

All 10 young people successfully passed their residential experience whilst gaining their John Muir Award, making new friends and learning new things about the world around them. It was an absolute pleasure to work with this group and see them grow and develop over a short period: the comradery and friendships developed were clear to see and it was amazing to see how young people’s ideas and perceptions of conservation changed for the positive over the week. It was a fantastic first Gold DofE residential held at Fordell Firs and may this be a new chapter to what we deliver.

Poppy who took part in the residential said:

"It was a really enjoyable week and a great chance to meet new people and help local communities"