Just the other day, I set myself a question to answer: What was scarier, a bunch of schoolchildren or the rainforest? I was going into my daughters’ school to talk about my experiences in the rainforest.
I wanted to give you an update because I’ve now given my talk. It was, I have to tell you a fantastic experience and I am still buzzing.
In fact, it was epic. Can I get away with saying it was epic? It’s what my eldest child would say so I hope I can say “epic” without sounding like I’m trying to cling on to a long passed youth!
Anyway, the kids have been learning about the rainforest over recent weeks. I have been very fortunate to have visited jungle in Asia, Africa and South America.
I thought I was talking to Helen’s class. In fact, I ended up speaking to two combined year groups. That’s about 120 kids in total, many more than I anticipated.
I can only describe it as immense fun and really, really uplifting. I’ve helped out in the school many times but never during lesson time.
I was, I confess, really worried that I wouldn’t be able to engage with the kids. In fact they listened very intently and were very keen to askl questions and hear what I had to say.
Even if I say so myself, I think it helped that I had a few good stories to tell. I don’t mind admitting, I am a bit of a story teller.
I took great delight in telling them about the late-night journey I took aboard a narrow rowing boat in a crocodile-infested river. Lucky I lived to tell the tale!
I also told them about the insects that attacked my eyes in the Peruvian cloud forest I visited, the monkeys in Malaysia that broke into people’s hotel rooms so they could steal and drink the banana shampoo (yes, really) and the leaf cutter ants that ate their way into our tent in the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia.
Okay, okay, I’ll stop repeating my traveller’s tales. Let’s just say that having heard my stories the kids were full of questions.
Had I been forced to run away from a jaguar? What food did I eat in the jungle? Had I climbed any trees? Had I seen any snakes? The questions came thick and fast.
I have no idea if I said anything inspiring or educational. All I can say is that it was an immensely positive experience and all the kids seemed genuinely curious to hear about the rainforest.
It was wonderful to see youngsters wanting to learn about the wider world. It made me realise why teaching appeals as a career (indeed, I considered it myself a few years ago).
Having done it once, would I do it again? Well, yes I would. I may, however, have to go and spend some more time in the rainforest. I wouldn’t, after all, want to bore the kids with the same stories a second time would I? Oh, and I can also answer the question. While schoolchildren might seem scarier, trust me they aren’t. The rainforest is a much scarier, harsher environment than a school!