Keeping our young people wild

I must have been about 5. Still small enough to push through the closely knit branches as they spiraled up the tree, my arms and legs scratched each time I wiggled through, tree sap stuck to the palms of my hands as I clung on to each new branch that lifted me higher. 

I could see the next tree about 3 meters away to my right. It’s out stretched tentacles waving at me in the gentle breeze, calling me over. Feeling like a bear in it’s natural habitat I wondered if I could climb between the two. Could I cross this daunting gap and end up over there, from this tree to the next, via it’s flimsy branches. 

Then, all of a sudden I was jolted from my mission, 

“Fiona, what the hell are you doing? Get down from there!”

- - -

I was adventurous as a kid. I remember exploring woods with my brother, kicking around in huge piles of autumn leaves and generally running wild around the small village we grew up in. But then we moved to a big town and I became a teenager. 

I was no longer wild. But I didn’t fit in this urban jungle either. 

Loosing my sense of adventure and a daring to go beyond what I knew, it had a real impact on more than how dirty my clothes were. I left a part of me out there, in the wild. I was a shy, awkward teenager. I lost confidence, had low self esteem, and never dared to wonder if there was somewhere else I could be other than right where I was. 

It took 20 years to rediscover my sense of adventure and to find the confidence to really challenge myself in ways I could never have imagined, to cross that daunting gap between known and unknown. I wonder how different my life would be now if I’d had that daring to try nurtured?

It’s for this reason that I loved speaking at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award presentation at St James’s Palace at the beginning of October. 

Celebrating the incredible achievements of those young people who were supported to go beyond what they already knew. To challenge themselves in the wild and deal with whatever was thrown at them. Hearing their stories it’s clear the Duke of Edinburgh Award has given them a firm sense of daring and a confidence in their abilities to dream up a crazy adventure and make it happen. What an incredible life skill to take with you out into the world. 

Let’s support more of our young people to stay wild. 

To find out more about how you can support the Duke of Edinburgh Award, check out the details here

If you’d like me to speak to your next event, please see details here